The Dawn-Breakers

Nabíl’s Narrative of the Early
Days of the Bahá’í Revelation


“I stand, life in hand, ready; that perchance, through God’s loving-kindness and grace, this revealed and manifest Letter may lay down his life as a sacrifice in the path of the Primal Point, the Most Exalted Word.” — Bahá’u’lláh


Translated from the Original Persian
and edited by

Shoghi Effendi

inmost shrine of the Báb The Inmost Shrine of the Báb

To The Greatest Holy Leaf The Last Survivor of a Glorious and Heroic Age I Dedicate This Work in Token of a Great Debt of Gratitiude and Love


The Bahá’í Movement is now well known throughout the world, and the time has come when Nabíl’s unique narrative of its beginnings in darkest Persia will interest many readers. The record which he sets down with such devoted care is in many respects extraordinary. It has its thrilling passages, and the splendour of the central theme gives to the chronicle not only great historical value but high moral power. Its lights are strong; and this effect is more intense because they seem like a sunburst at midnight. The tale is one of struggle and martyrdom; its poignant scenes, its tragic incidents are many. Corruption, fanaticisms and cruelty gather against the cause of reformation to destroy it, and the present volume closes at the point where a riot of hate seems to have accomplished its purpose and to have driven into exile or put to death every man, woman, and child in Persia who dared to profess a leaning towards the teaching of the Báb.

Nabíl, himself a participant in some of the scenes which he recites, took up his lonely pen to recite the truth about men and women so mercilessly persecuted and a movement so grievously traduced.

He writes with ease, and when his emotions are strongly stirred his style becomes vigorous and trenchant. He does not present with any system the claims and teaching of Bahá’u’lláh and His Forerunner. His purpose is the simple one of rehearsing the beginnings of the Bahá’í Revelation and of preserving the remembrance of the deeds of its early champions. He relates a series of incidents, punctiliously quoting his authority for almost every item of information. His work in consequence, if less artistic and philosophic, gains in value as a literal account of what he knew or could from credible witnesses discover about the early history of the Cause.

The main features of the narrative — the saintly heroic figure of the Báb, a leader so mild and so serene, yet eager, resolute, and dominant; the devotion of his followers facing oppression with unbroken courage and often with ecstasy; the rage of a jealous priesthood inflaming for its own purpose the passions of a bloodthirsty populace — these speak a language which all may understand. But it is not easy to follow the narrative in its details, or to appreciate how stupendous was the task undertaken by Bahá’u’lláh and His Forerunner, without some knowledge of the condition of church and state in Persia and of the customs and mental outlook of the people and their masters. Nabíl took this knowledge for granted. He had himself travelled little if at all beyond the boundary of the empires of the Sháh and the Sulṭán, and it did not occur to him to institute comparisons between his own and foreign civilisations. He was not addressing the Western reader. Though he was conscious that the material he had collected was of more than national or Islamic importance and that it would before long spread both eastward and westward until it encircled the globe, yet he was an Oriental writing in an Oriental language for those who used it, and the unique work which he so faithfully accomplished was in itself a great and laborious task.

There exists in English, however, a literature about Persia in the nineteenth century which will give the Western reader ample information on the subject. From Persian writings which have already been translated, or from books of European travellers like Lord Curzon, Sir J. Malcolm, and others not a few, he will find a lifelike and vivid if unlovely picture of the Augean conditions which the Báb had to confront when He inaugurated the Movement in the middle of the nineteenth century.

All observers agree in representing Persia as a feeble and backward nation divided against itself by corrupt practices and ferocious bigotries. Inefficiency and wretchedness, the fruit of moral decay, filled the land. From the highest to the lowest there appeared neither the capacity to carry out methods of reform nor even the will seriously to institute them. National conceit preached a grandiose self-content. A pall of immobility lay over all things, and a general paralysis of mind made any development impossible.

To a student of history the degeneracy of a nation once so powerful and so illustrious seems pitiful in the extreme. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who in spite of the cruelties heaped on Bahá’u’lláh, on the Báb, and on Himself, yet loved His country, called their degradation “the tragedy of a people”; and in that work, “The Mysterious Forces of Civilisation,” in which He sought to stir the hearts of His compatriots to undertake radical reforms, He uttered a poignant lament over the present fate of a people who once had extended their conquests east and west and had led the civilisation of mankind. “In former times,” he writes, “Persia was verily the heart of the world and shone among the nations like a lighted taper. Her glory and prosperity broke from the horizon of humanity like the true dawn disseminating the light of knowledge and illumining the nations of the East and West. The fame of her victorious kings reached the ears of the dwellers at the poles of the earth. The majesty of her king of kings humbled the monarchs of Greece and Rome. Her governing wisdom filled the sages with awe, and the rulers of the continents fashioned their laws upon her polity. The Persians being distinguished among the nations of the earth as a people of conquerors, and justly admired for their civilisation and learning, their country became the glorious centre of all the sciences and arts, the mine of culture and a fount of virtues. ...How is it that this excellent country now, by reason of our sloth, vanity, and indifference, from the lack of knowledge and organisation, from the poverty of the zeal and ambition of her people, has suffered the rays of her prosperity to be darkened and well-nigh extinguished?”

Other writers describe fully those unhappy conditions to which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá refers.

At the time when the Báb declared His Mission, the government of the country was, in Lord Curzon’s phrase, “a Church-State.” Venal, cruel, and immoral as it was, it was formally religious. Muslim orthodoxy was its basis and permeated to the core both it and the social lives of the people. But otherwise there were no laws, statutes, or charters to guide the direction of public affairs. There was no House of Lords nor Privy Council, no synod, no Parliament. The Sháh was despot, and his arbitrary rule was reflected all down the official scale through every minister and governor to the lowliest clerk or remotest headman. No civil tribunal existed to check or modify the power of the monarch or the authority which he might choose to delegate to his subordinates. If there was a law, it was his word. He could do as he pleased. It was his to appoint or to dismiss all ministers, officials, officers, and judges. He had power of life and death without appeal over all members of his household and of his court, whether civil or military. The right to take life was vested in him alone; and so were all the functions of government, legislative, executive, and judicial. His royal prerogative was limited by no written restraint whatever.

Descendants of the Sháhs were thrust into the most lucrative posts throughout the country, and as the generations went by they filled innumerable minor posts too, far and wide, till the land was burdened with this race of royal drones who owed their position to nothing better than their blood and who gave rise to the Persian saying that “camels, fleas, and princes exist everywhere.”

Even when a Sháh wished to make a just and wise decision in any case that might be brought before him for judgment, he found it difficult to do so, because he could not rely on the information given him. Critical facts would be withheld, or the facts given would be distorted by the influence of interested witnesses or venal ministers. The system of corruption had been carried so far in Persia that it had become a recognised institution which Lord Curzon describes in the following terms:

“I come now to that which is the cardinal and differentiating feature of Iranian administration. Government, nay, life itself, in that country may be said to consist for the most part of an interchange of presents. Under its social aspects this practice may be supposed to illustrate the generous sentiments of an amiable people; though even here it has a grimly unemotional side, as, for instance, when, congratulating yourself upon being the recipient of a gift, you find that not only must you make a return of equivalent cost to the donor, but must also liberally remunerate the bearer of the gift (to whom your return is very likely the sole recognised means of subsistence) in a ratio proportionate to its pecuniary value. Under its political aspects, the practice of gift-making, though consecrated in the adamantine traditions of the East, is synonymous with the system elsewhere described by less agreeable names. This is the system on which the government of Persia has been conducted for centuries, and the maintenance of which opposes a solid barrier to any real reform. From the Sháh downwards, there is scarcely an official who is not open to gifts, scarcely a post which is not conferred in return for gifts, scarcely an income which has not been amassed by the receipt of gifts. Every individual, with hardly an exception, in the official hierarchy above mentioned, has only purchased his post by a money present either to the Sháh, or to a minister, or to the superior governor by whom he has been appointed. If there are several candidates for a post, in all probability the one who makes the best offer will win.

“... The ‘madákhil’ is a cherished national institution in Persia, the exaction of which, in a myriad different forms, whose ingenuity is only equalled by their multiplicity, is the crowning interest and delight of a Persian’s existence. This remarkable word, for which Mr. Watson says there is no precise English equivalent, may be variously translated as commission, perquisite, douceur, consideration, pickings and stealings, profit, according to the immediate context in which it is employed. Roughly speaking, it signifies that balance of personal advantage, usually expressed in money form, which can be squeezed out of any and every transaction. A negotiation, in which two parties are involved as donor and recipient, as superior and subordinate, or even as equal contracting agents, cannot take place in Persia without the party who can be represented as the author of the favour or service claiming and receiving a definite cash return for what he has done or given. It may of course be said that human nature is much the same all the world over; that a similar system exists under a different name in our own or other countries, and that the philosophic critic will welcome in the Persian a man and a brother. To some extent this is true. But in no country that I have ever seen or heard of in the world, is the system so open, so shameless, or so universal as in Persia. So far from being limited to the sphere of domestic economy or to commercial transactions, it permeates every walk and inspires most of the actions of life. By its operation, generosity or gratuitous service may be said to have been erased in Persia from the category of social virtues, and cupidity has been elevated into the guiding principle of human conduct.... Hereby is instituted an arithmetical progression of plunder from the sovereign to the subject, each unit in the descending scale remunerating himself from the unit next in rank below his, and the hapless peasant being the ultimate victim. It is not surprising, under these circumstances, that office is the common avenue to wealth, and that cases are frequent of men who, having started from nothing, are found residing in magnificent houses, surrounded by crowds of retainers and living in princely style. ‘Make what you can while you can’ is the rule that most men set before themselves in entering public life. Nor does popular spirit resent the act; the estimation of any one who, enjoying the opportunity, has failed to line his own pockets, being the reverse of complimentary to his sense. No one turns a thought to the sufferers from whom, in the last resort, the material for these successive ‘madákhils’ has been derived, and from the sweat of whose uncomplaining brow has been wrung the wealth that is dissipated in luxurious country houses, European curiosities and enormous retinues.”

To read the foregoing is to perceive something of the difficulty of the Báb’s mission; to read the following is to understand the dangers He faced, and to be prepared for a story of violence and heinous cruelty.

“Before I quit the subject of the Persian law and its administration, let me add a few words upon the subject of penalties and prisons. Nothing is more shocking to the European reader, in pursuing his way through the crime-stained and bloody pages of Persian history during the last and, in a happily less degree, during the present century, than the record of savage punishments and abominable tortures, testifying alternately to the callousness of the brute and the ingenuity of the fiend. The Persian character has ever been fertile in device and indifferent to suffering; and in the field of judicial executions it has found ample scope for the exercise of both attainments. Up till quite a recent period, well within the borders of the present reign, condemned criminals have been crucified, blown from guns, buried alive, impaled, shod like horses, torn asunder by being bound to the heads of two trees bent together and then allowed to spring back to their natural position, converted into human torches, flayed while living.

“... Under a twofold governing system, such as that of which I have now completed the description — namely, an administration in which every actor is, in different aspects, both the briber and the bribed; and a judicial procedure, without either a law or a law court — it will readily be understood that confidence in the Government is not likely to exist, that there is no personal sense of duty or pride of honour, no mutual trust or co-operation (except in the service of ill-doing), no disgrace in exposure, no credit in virtue, above all no national spirit or patriotism.”

From the beginning the Báb must have divined the reception which would be accorded by His countrymen to His teachings, and the fate which awaited Him at the hands of the mullás. But He did not allow personal misgivings to affect the frank enunciation of His claims nor the open presentation of His Cause. The innovations which He proclaimed, though purely religious, were drastic; the announcement of His own identity startling and tremendous. He made Himself known as the Qá’im, the High Prophet or Messiah so long promised, so eagerly expected by the Muḥammadan world. He added to this the declaration that he was also the Gate (that is, the Báb) through whom a greater Manifestation than Himself was to enter the human realm.

Putting Himself thus in line with the traditions of Islám, and appearing as the fulfilment of prophecy, He came into conflict with those who had fixed and ineradicable ideas (different from His) as to what those prophecies and traditions meant. The two great Persian sects of Islám, the shí‘ah and the sunnís, both attached vital importance to the ancient deposit of their faith but did not agree as to its contents or its import. The shí‘ah, out of whose doctrines the Bábí Movement rose, held that after the ascension of the High Prophet Muḥammad, He was succeeded by a line of twelve Imáms. Each of these, they held, was specially endowed by God with spiritual gifts and powers, and was entitled to the whole-hearted obedience of the faithful. Each owed his appointment not to the popular choice but to his nomination by his predecessor in office. The twelfth and last of these inspired guides was Muḥammad, called by the shí‘ah “Imám-Mihdí, Ḥujjatu’lláh [the Proof of God], Baqíyyatu’lláh [the Remnant of God], and Qá’im-i-Ál-i-Muḥammad [He who shall arise of the family of Muḥammad].” He assumed the functions of the Imám in the year 260 of the Hegira, but at once disappeared from view and communicated with his followers only through a certain chosen intermediary known as a Gate. Four of these Gates followed one another in order, each appointed by his predecessor with the approval of the Imám. But when the fourth, Abu’l-Ḥasan-‘Alí, was asked by the faithful, before he died, to name his successor, he declined to do so. He said that God had another plan. On his death all communication between the Imám and his church therefore ceased. And though, surrounded by a band of followers, he still lives and waits in some mysterious retreat, he will not resume relations with his people until he comes forth in power to establish a millennium throughout the world.

The sunnís, on the other hand, take a less exalted view of the office of those who have succeeded the High Prophet. They regard the vicegerency less as a spiritual than as a practical matter. The Khalíf is, in their eyes, the Defender of the Faith, and he owes his appointment to the choice and approval of the People.

Important as these differences are, both sects agree, however, in expecting a twofold Manifestation. The shí‘ahs look for the Qá’im, who is to come in the fulness of time, and also for the return of the Imám Ḥusayn. The sunnís await the appearance of the Mihdí and also “the return of Jesus Christ.” When, at the beginning of his Mission, the Báb, continuing the tradition of the shí‘ahs, proclaimed His function under the double title of, first, the Qá’im and, second, the Gate, or Báb, some of the Muḥammadans misunderstood the latter reference. They imagined His meaning to be that He was a fifth Gate in succession to Abu’l-Ḥasan-‘Alí. His true meaning, however, as He himself clearly announced, was very different. He was the Qá’im; but the Qá’im, though a High Prophet, stood in relation to a succeeding and greater Manifestation as did John the Baptist to the Christ. He was the Forerunner of One yet more mighty than Himself. He 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 the Báb the Herald or Gate of Bahá’u’lláh.

There are many authentic traditions showing that the Qá’im on His appearance would bring new laws with Him and would thus abrogate Islám. But this was not the understanding of the established hierarchy. They 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 Báb revealed His Bayán, proclaimed a new code of religious law, and by precept and example instituted a profound moral and spiritual reform, the priests immediately scented mortal danger. They saw their monopoly undermined, their ambitions threatened, their own lives and conduct put to shame. They rose against Him in sanctimonious indignation. They declared before the Sháh and all the people that this upstart was an enemy of sound learning, a subverter of Islám, a traitor to Muḥammad, and a peril not only to the holy church but to the social order and to the State itself.

The cause of the rejection and persecution of the Báb 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 a merely moral reformer have escaped the vengeance of the Scribes and Pharisees. But to claim that any part of the Mosaic law, even such material ordinances as those that dealt 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 Pharisees 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 Báb was from the beginning opposed by the vested interests of the dominant Church as an uprooter of the Faith. Yet, even in that dark and fanatical country, the mullás (like the Scribes in Palestine eighteen centuries before) did not find it very easy to put forward a plausible pretext for destroying Him whom they thought their enemy.

The only known record of the Báb’s having been seen by a European belongs to the period of His persecution when an English physician resident in Tabríz, Dr. Cormick, was called in by the Persian authorities to pronounce on the Báb’s mental condition. The doctor’s letter, addressed to a fellow practitioner in an American mission in Persia, is given in Professor E. G. Browne’s “Materials for the Study of the Bábí Religion.” “You ask me,” writes the doctor, “for some particulars of my interview with the founder of the sect known as Bábís. Nothing of any importance transpired in this interview, as the Báb was aware of my having been sent with two other Persian doctors to see whether he was of sane mind or merely a madman, to decide the question whether he was to be put to death or not. With this knowledge he was loth to answer any questions put to him. To all enquiries he merely regarded us with a mild look, chanting in a low melodious voice some hymns, I suppose. Two other siyyids, his intimate friends, were also present, who subsequently were put to death with him, besides a couple of government officials. He only deigned to answer me, on my saying that I was not a Musulmán and was willing to know something about his religion, as I might perhaps be inclined to adopt it. He regarded me very intently on my saying this, and replied that he had no doubt of all Europeans coming over to his religion. Our report to the Sháh at that time was of a nature to spare his life. He was put to death some time after by the order of the Amír-Niẓám, Mírzá Taqí Khán. On our report he merely got the bastinado, in which operation a farrásh, whether intentionally or not, struck him across the face with the stick destined for his feet, which produced a great wound and swelling of the face. On being asked whether a Persian surgeon should be brought to treat him, he expressed a desire that I should be sent for, and I accordingly treated him for a few days, but in the interviews consequent on this I could never get him to have a confidential chat with me, as some government people were always present, he being a prisoner. He was a very mild and delicate-looking man, rather small in stature and very fair for a Persian, with a melodious soft voice, which struck me much. Being a Siyyid, he was dressed in the habit of that sect, as were also his two companions. In fact his whole look and deportment went far to dispose one in his favour. Of his doctrine I heard nothing from his own lips, although the idea was that there existed in his religion a certain approach to Christianity. He was seen by some Armenian carpenters, who were sent to make some repairs in his prison, reading the Bible, and he took no pains to conceal it, but on the contrary told them of it. Most assuredly the Musulmán fanaticism does not exist in his religion, as applied to Christians, nor is there that restraint of females that now exists.”

Such was the impression made by the Báb upon a cultivated Englishman. And as far as the influence of His character and teaching have since spread through the West, no other record is extant of His having been observed or seen by European eyes.

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, often converting His gaolers to His Faith and turning the ill-disposed into admiring friends.

To silence such a man without incurring some degree of public odium was not very easy even in the Persia of the middle of last century. But with the Báb’s followers it was another matter.

The mullás encountered here no cause for delay and found little need for scheming. The bigotry of the Muḥammadans from the Sháh downwards could be readily roused against any religious development. The Bábís could be accused of disloyalty to the Sháh, and dark political motives could be attributed to their activities. Moreover, the Báb’s followers were already numerous; many of them were well-to-do, some were rich, and there were few but had some possessions which covetous neighbours might be instigated to desire. Appealing to the fears of the authorities and to the base national passions of fanaticism and cupidity, the mullás inaugurated a campaign of outrage and spoliation which they maintained with relentless ferocity till they considered that their purpose had been completely achieved.

Many of the incidents of this unhappy story are given by Nabíl in his history, and among these the happenings at Mázindarán, Nayríz, and Zanján stand out by reason of the character of the episodes of the heroism of the Bábís when thus brought to bay. On these three occasions a number of Bábís, driven to desperation, withdrew in concert from their houses to a chosen retreat and, erecting defensive works about them, defied in arms further pursuit. To any impartial witness it was evident that the mullás’ allegations of a political motive were untrue. The Bábís showed themselves always ready — on an assurance that they would be no longer molested for their religious beliefs — to return peacefully to their civil occupations. Nabíl emphasises their care to refrain from aggression. 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 nor strike an unnecessary blow.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá is quoted in the “Traveller’s Narrative,” pp. 34–35, as making the following statement on the moral aspect of their action:

“The minister (Mírzá Taqí Khán), with the utmost arbitrariness, without receiving any instructions or asking permission, sent forth commands in all directions to punish and chastise the Bábís. Governors and magistrates sought a pretext for amassing wealth, and officials a means of acquiring profits; celebrated doctors from the summits of their pulpits incited men to make a general onslaught; the powers of the religious and the civil law linked hands and strove to eradicate and destroy this people. Now this people had not yet acquired such knowledge as was right and needful of the fundamental principles and hidden doctrines of the Báb’s teachings, and did not recognise their duties. Their conceptions and ideas were after the former fashion, and their conduct and behaviour in correspondence with ancient usage. The way of approach to the Báb was, moreover, closed, and the flame of trouble visibly blazing on every side. At the decree of the most celebrated doctors, the government, and indeed the common people, had, with irresistible power, inaugurated rapine and plunder on all sides, and were engaged in punishing and torturing, killing and despoiling, in order that they might quench this fire and wither these poor souls. In towns where there 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-defence in accordance with their former beliefs, since it was impossible for them to make enquiry as to their duty, and all doors were closed.”

Bahá’u’lláh, on proclaiming some years later His Mission, left no room for uncertainty as to the law of His Dispensation in such a predicament when He affirmed: “It is better to be killed than to kill.”

Whatever resistance the Bábís offered, here or elsewhere, proved ineffective. They were overwhelmed by numbers. The Báb Himself was taken from His cell and executed. Of His chief disciples who avowed their belief in Him, not one soul was left alive save Bahá’u’lláh, who with His family and a handful of devoted followers was driven destitute into exile and prison in a foreign land.

But the fire, though smothered, was not quenched. It burned in the hearts of the exiles who carried it from country to country as they travelled. Even in the homeland of Persia it had penetrated too deeply to be extinguished by physical violence, and still smouldered in the people’s hearts, needing only a breath from the spirit to be fanned into an all-consuming conflagration.

The Second and greater Manifestation of God was proclaimed in accordance with the prophecy of the Báb at the date which He had foretold. Nine years after the beginning of the Bábí Dispensation — that is, in 1853 — Bahá’u’lláh, in certain of His odes, alluded to His identity and His Mission, and ten years later, while resident in Baghdád, declared Himself as the Promised One to His companions.

Now the great Movement for which the Báb had prepared the way began to show the full range and magnificence of its power. Though Bahá’u’lláh Himself lived and died an exile and a prisoner and was known to few Europeans, His epistles proclaiming the new Advent were borne to the great rulers of both hemispheres, from the Sháh of Persia to the Pope and to the President of the United States. After His passing, His son ‘Abdu’l-Bahá carried the tidings in person into Egypt and far through the Western world. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited England, France, Switzerland, Germany, and America, announcing everywhere that once again the heavens had opened and that a new Dispensation had come to bless the sons of men. He died in November, 1921; and to-day the fire that once seemed to have been put out for ever, burns again in every part of Persia, has established itself on the American continent, and has laid hold of every country in the world. Around the sacred writings of Bahá’u’lláh and the authoritative exposition of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá there is growing a large volume of literature in comment or in witness. The humanitarian and spiritual principles enunciated decades ago in the darkest East by Bahá’u’lláh and moulded by Him into a coherent scheme are one after the other being taken by a world unconscious of their source as the marks of progressive civilisation. And the sense that mankind has broken with the past and that the old guidance will not carry it through the emergencies of the present has filled with uncertainty and dismay all thoughtful men save those who have learned to find in the story of Bahá’u’lláh the meaning of all the prodigies and portents of our time.

Nearly three generations have passed since the inception of the Movement. Any of its early adherents who escaped the sword and the stake have long since passed away in the course of nature. The door of contemporary information as to its two great leaders and their heroic disciples is closed for ever. The Chronicle of Nabíl as a careful collection of facts made in the interests of truth and completed in the lifetime of Bahá’u’lláh has now a unique value. The author was thirteen years old when the Báb declared Himself, having been born in the village of Zarand in Persia on the eighteenth day of Ṣafar, 1247 A.H. He was throughout his life closely associated with the leaders of the Cause. Though he was but a boy at the time, he was preparing to leave for Shaykh Ṭabarsí and join the party of Mullá Ḥusayn when the news of the treacherous massacre of the Bábís frustrated his design. He states in his narrative that he met, in Ṭihrán, Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí, a brother of the Báb’s mother, who had just returned at the time from visiting the Báb in the fortress of Chihríq; and for many years he was a close companion of the Báb’s secretary, Mírzá Aḥmad.

He entered the presence of Bahá’u’lláh in Kirmánsháh and Ṭihrán before the date of the exile to ‘Iráq, and afterwards was in attendance upon Him in Baghdád and Adrianople as well as in the prison-city of ‘Akká. He was sent more than once on missions to Persia to promote the Cause and to encourage the scattered and persecuted believers, and he was living in ‘Akká when Bahá’u’lláh passed away in 1892 A.D. The manner of his death was pathetic and lamentable, for he became so dreadfully affected by the death of the Great Beloved that, overmastered by grief, he drowned himself in the sea, and his dead body was found washed ashore near the city of ‘Akká.

His chronicle was begun in 1888, when he had the personal assistance of Mírzá Músá, the brother of Bahá’u’lláh. It was finished in about a year and a half, and parts of the manuscript were reviewed and approved, some by Bahá’u’lláh, and others by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

The complete work carries the history of the Movement up to the death of Bahá’u’lláh in 1892.

The first half of this narrative, closing with the expulsion of Bahá’u’lláh from Persia, is contained in the present volume. Its importance is evident. It will be read less for the few stirring passages of action which it contains, or even for its many pictures of heroism and unwavering faith, than for the abiding significance of those events of which it gives so unique a record.


A. The Qájár Soverigns

“In theory the king may do what he pleases; his word is law. The saying that ‘The law of the Medes and Persians altereth not’ was merely an ancient periphrasis for the absolutism of the sovereign. He appoints and he may dismiss all ministers, officers, officials, and judges. Over his own family and household, and over the civil or military functionaries in his employ, he has power of life and death without reference to any tribunal. The property of any such individual, if disgraced or executed, reverts to him. The right to take life in any case is vested in him alone, but can be delegated to governors or deputies. All property, not previously granted by the crown or purchased — all property, in fact, to which a legal title cannot be established — belongs to him, and can be disposed of at his pleasure. All rights or privileges, such as the making of public works, the working of mines, the institution of telegraphs, roads, railroads, tramways, etc., the exploitation, in fact, of any of the resources of the country, are vested in him, and must be purchased from him before they can be assumed by others. In his person are fused the threefold functions of government, legislative, executive, and judicial. No obligation is imposed upon him beyond the outward observance of the forms of the national religion. He is the pivot upon which turns the entire machinery of public life.

“Such is, in theory, and was till lately in practice, the character of the Persian monarchy. Nor has a single one of these high pretensions been overtly conceded. The language in which the Sháh addresses his subjects and is addressed by them, recalls the proud tone in which an Artaxerxes or Darius spoke to his tributary millions, and which may still be read in the graven record of rock-wall and tomb. He remains the Sháhinsháh, or King of Kings; the Ẓillu’lláh, or Shadow of God; the Qibliy-i-‘Álam, or Centre of the Universe; ‘Exalted like the planet Saturn; Well of Science; Footpath of Heaven; Sublime Sovereign, whose standard is the Sun, whose splendour is that of the Firmament; Monarch of armies numerous as the stars.’ Still would the Persian subject endorse the precept of Sa‘dí, that ‘The vice approved by the king becomes a virtue; to seek opposite counsel is to imbrue one’s hands in his own blood.’ The march of time has imposed upon him neither religious council nor secular council, neither ‘ulamá nor senate. Elective and representative institutions have not yet intruded their irreverent features. No written check exists upon the royal prerogative.

“... Such is the divinity that doth hedge a throne in Persia, that not merely does the Sháh never attend at state dinners or eat with his subjects at table, with the exception of a single banquet to his principal male relatives at Naw-Rúz, but the attitude and language employed towards him even by his confidential ministers are those of servile obeisance and adulation. ‘May I be your sacrifice, Asylum of the Universe,’ is the common mode of address adopted even by subjects of the highest rank. In his own surrounding there is no one to tell him the truth or to give him dispassionate counsel. The foreign Ministers are probably almost the only source from which he learns facts as they are, or receives unvarnished, even if interested, advice. With the best intentions in the world for the undertaking of great plans and for the amelioration of his country, he has little or no control over the execution of an enterprise which has once passed out of his hands and has become the sport of corrupt and self-seeking officials. Half the money voted with his consent never reaches its destination, but sticks to every intervening pocket with which a professional ingenuity can bring it into transient contact; half the schemes authorised by him are never brought any nearer to realisation, the minister or functionary in charge trusting to the oblivious caprices of the sovereign to overlook his dereliction of duty.

“... Only a century ago the abominable system prevailed of blinding possible aspirants to the throne, of savage mutilations and life-long captivities, of wanton slaughter and systematic bloodshed. Disgrace was not less sudden than promotion, and death was a frequent concomitant of disgrace.

“... Fatḥ-‘Alí Sháh ... and his successors after him, have proved so extraordinarily prolific of male offspring that the continuity of the dynasty has been assured; and there is probably not a reigning family in the world that in the space of one hundred years has swollen to such ample dimensions as the royal race of Persia.... Neither in the number of his wives nor in the extent of his progeny, can the Sháh, although undeniably a family man, be compared with his great-grandfather, Fatḥ-‘Alí Sháh. To the high opinion universally held of the domestic capacities of that monarch must, I imagine, be attributed the divergent estimates that are to be found, in works about Persia, of the number of his concubines and children. Colonel Drouville, in 1813, credits him with 700 wives, 64 sons, and 125 daughters. Colonel Stuart, who was in Persia in the year after Fatḥ-‘Alí’s death, gives him 1,000 wives and 105 children.... Madame Dieulafoy also names the 5,000 descendants, but as existing at an epoch fifty years later (which has an air of greater probability).... The estimate which appears in the Násikhu’t-Taváríkh, a great modern Persian historical work, fixes the number of Fatḥ-‘Alí’s wives as over 1,000, and of his offspring as 260, 110 of whom survived their father. Hence the familiar Persian proverb ‘Camels, fleas, and princes exist everywhere.’ ... No royal family has ever afforded a more exemplary illustration of the Scriptural assurance, ‘Instead of thy fathers thou shalt have children, whom thou mayest make princes in all lands’; for there was scarcely a governorship or a post of emolument in Persia that was not filled by one of this beehive of princelings; and to this day the myriad brood of Sháh-zádihs, or descendants of a king, is a perfect curse to the country, although many of these luckless scions of royalty, who consume a large portion of the revenue in annual allowances and pensions, now occupy very inferior positions as telegraph clerks, secretaries, etc. Fraser drew a vivid picture of the misery entailed upon the country fifty years ago (1842) by this ‘race of royal drones,’ who filled the governing posts not merely of every province, but of every buluk or district, city, and town; each of whom kept up a court, and a huge harem, and who preyed upon the country like a swarm of locusts.... Fraser, passing through Ádhirbáyján in 1834, and observing the calamitous results of the system under which Fatḥ-‘Alí Sháh distributed his colossal male progeny in every Government post throughout the kingdom, remarked: ‘The most obvious consequence of this state of affairs is a thorough and universal detestation of the Qájár race, which is a prevalent feeling in every heart and the theme of every tongue.’

“... Just as, in the course of his [Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh’s] European travels, he picked up a vast number of what appeared, to the Eastern mind, to be wonderful curiosities, but which have since been stacked in the various apartments of the palace, or put away and forgotten; so in the larger sphere of public policy and administration he is continually taking up and pushing some new scheme or invention which, when the caprice has been gratified, is neglected or allowed to expire. One week it is gas; another it is electric lights. Now it is a staff college; anon, a military hospital. To-day it is a Russian uniform; yesterday it was a German man-of-war for the Persian Gulf. A new army warrant is issued this year; a new code of law is promised for the next. Nothing comes of any of these brilliant schemes, and the lumber-rooms of the palace are not more full of broken mechanism and discarded bric-à-brac than are the pigeon-holes of the government bureaux of abortive reforms and dead fiascoes.

“... In an upper chamber of the same pavilion, Mírzá Abu’l-Qásim, the Qá’im-Maqám, or Grand Vazír, of Muḥammad Sháh (the father of the present monarch), was strangled in 1835, by order of his royal master, who therein followed an example set him by his predecessor, and set one himself that was duly followed by his son. It must be rare in history to find three successive sovereigns who have put to death, from jealous motives only, the three ministers who have either raised them to the throne or were at the time of their fall filling the highest office in the State. Such is the triple distinction of Fatḥ-‘Alí, Muḥammad, and Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháhs.”

B. The Government

“In a country so backward in constitutional progress, so destitute of forms and statutes and charters, and so firmly stereotyped in the immemorial traditions of the East, the personal element, as might be expected, is largely in the ascendant; and the government of Persia is little else than the arbitrary exercise of authority by a series of units in a descending scale from the sovereign to the headman of a petty village. The only check that operates upon the lower official grades is the fear of their superiors, which means can usually be found to assuage; upon the higher ranks the fear of the sovereign, who is not always closed against similar methods of pacification; and upon the sovereign himself the fear, not of native, but of foreign opinion, as represented by the hostile criticism of the European Press.... The Sháh, indeed, may be regarded at this moment as perhaps the best existing specimen of a moderate despot; for within the limits indicated he is practically irresponsible and omnipotent. He has absolute command over the life and property of every one of his subJects. His sons have no independent power, and can be reduced to impotence or beggary in the twinkling of an eye. The ministers are elevated and degraded at the royal pleasure. The sovereign is the sole executive, and all officials are his deputies. No civil tribunals are in existence to check or modify his prerogative.

“... Of the general character and accomplishments of the ministers of the Persian Court, Sir J. Malcolm, in his History, wrote as follows in the early years of the century: ‘The Ministers and chief officers of the Court are almost always men of polished manners, well skilled in the business of their respective departments, of pleasant conversation, subdued temper, and very acute observation; but these agreeable and useful qualities are, in general, all that they possess. Nor is virtue or liberal knowledge to be expected in men whose lives are wasted in attending to forms; whose means of subsistence are derived from the most corrupt sources; whose occupation is in intrigues which have always the same objects: to preserve themselves or ruin others; who cannot, without danger, speak any language but that of flattery and deceit; and who are, in short, condemned by their condition to be venal, artful, and false. There have, no doubt, been many ministers of Persia whom it would be injustice to class under this general description; but even the most distinguished for their virtues and talents have been forced in some degree to accommodate their principles to their station; and, unless where the confidence of their sovereign has placed them beyond the fear of rivals, necessity has compelled them to practise a subserviency and dissimulation at variance with the truth and integrity which can alone constitute a claim to the respect all are disposed to grant to good and great men.’ These observations are marked by the insight and justice characteristic of their distinguished author, and it is to be feared that to a large extent they hold as good of the present as of the old generation.”

C. The People

“... I now come to that which is the cardinal and differentiating feature of Iranian administration. Government, nay, life itself, in that country may be said to consist for the most part of an interchange of presents. Under its social aspects this practice may be supposed to illustrate the generous sentiments of an amiable people; though even here it has a grimly unemotional side, as, for instance, when, congratulating yourself upon being the recipient of a gift, you find that not only must you make a return of equivalent cost to the donor, but must also liberally remunerate the bearer of the gift (to whom your return is very likely the sole recognised means of subsistence) in a ratio proportionate to its pecuniary value. Under its political aspects, the practice of gift-making, though consecrated in the adamantine traditions of the East, is synonymous with the system elsewhere described by less agreeable names. This is the system on which the government of Persia has been conducted for centuries, and the maintenance of which opposes a solid barrier to any real reform. From the Sháh downwards, there is scarcely an official who is not open to gifts, scarcely a post which is not conferred in return for gifts, scarcely an income which has not been amassed by the receipt of gifts. Every individual, with hardly an exception, in the official hierarchy above mentioned, has only purchased his post by a money present either to the Sháh, or to a minister, or to the superior governor by whom he has been appointed. If there are several candidates for a post, in all probability the one who makes the best offer will win.

“... The ‘madákhil’ is a cherished national institution in Persia, the exaction of which, in a myriad different forms, whose ingenuity is only equalled by their multiplicity, is the crowning interest and delight of a Persian’s existence. This remarkable word, for which Mr. Watson says there is no precise English equivalent, may be variously translated as commission, perquisite, douceur, consideration, pickings and stealings, profit, according to the immediate context in which it is employed. Roughly speaking, it signifies that balance of personal advantage, usually expressed in money form, which can be squeezed out of any and every transaction. A negotiation, in which two parties are involved as donor and recipient, as superior and subordinate, or even as equal contracting agents, cannot take place in Persia without the party who can be represented as the author or the favour or service claiming and receiving a definite cash return for what he has done or given. It may of course be said that human nature is much the same all the world over; that a similar system exists under a different name in our own or other countries, and that the philosophic critic will welcome in the Persian a man and a brother. To some extent this is true. But in no country that I have ever seen or heard of in the world, is the system so open, so shameless, or so universal as in Persia. So far from being limited to the sphere of domestic economy or to commercial transactions, it permeates every walk and inspires most of the actions of life. By its operation, generosity or gratuitous service may be said to have been erased in Persia from the category of social virtues, and cupidity has been elevated into the guiding principle of human conduct.... Hereby is instituted an arithmetical progression of plunder from the sovereign to the subject, each unit in the descending scale remunerating himself from the unit next in rank below him, and the hapless peasant being the ultimate victim. It is not surprising, under these circumstances, that office is the common avenue to wealth, and that cases are frequent of men who, having started from nothing, are found residing in magnificent houses, surrounded by crowds of retainers and living in princely style. ‘Make what you can while you can’ is the rule that most men set before themselves in entering public life. Nor does popular spirit resent the act; the estimation of any one who, enjoying the opportunity, has failed to line his own pockets, being the reverse of complimentary to his sense. No one turns a thought to the sufferers from whom, in the last resort, the material for these successive ‘madákhils’ has been derived, and from the sweat of whose uncomplaining brow has been wrung the wealth that is dissipated in luxurious country houses, European curiosities, and enormous retinues.

“... Among the features of public life in Persia that most quickly strike the stranger’s eye, and that indirectly arise from the same conditions, is the enormous number of attendants and retainers that swarm round a minister, or official of any description. In the case of a functionary of rank or position, these vary in number from 50 to 500. Benjamin says that the Prime Minister in his time kept 3,000. Now, the theory of social and ceremonial etiquette that prevails in Persia, and indeed throughout the East, is to some extent responsible for this phenomenon, personal importance being, to a large extent, estimated by the public show which it can make, and by the staff of servants whom on occasions it can parade. But it is the institution of ‘Madákhil’ and of illicit pickings and stealings that is the root of the evil. If the governor or minister were bound to pay salaries to the whole of this servile crew their ranks would speedily dwindle. The bulk of them are unpaid; they attach themselves to their master because of the opportunities for extortion with which that connection presents them, and they thrive and fatten on plunder. It may readily be conceived how great a drain is this swarm of blood-suckers upon the resources of the country. They are true types of unproductive labourers, absorbing but never creating wealth; and their existence is little short of a national calamity.... It is a cardinal point of Persian etiquette when you go out visiting to take as many of your own establishment with you as possible, whether riding or walking on foot; the number of such retinue being accepted as an indication of the rank of the master.”

D. The Ecclesiastical Order

“Marvellously adapted alike to the climate, character, and occupations of those countries upon which it has laid its adamantine grip, Islám holds its votary in complete thrall from the cradle to the grave. To him, it is not only religion, it is government, philosophy, and science as well. The Muḥammadan conception is not so much that of a state church as, if the phrase may be permitted, of a church state. The undergirders with which society itself is warped round are not of civil, but of ecclesiastical, fabrication; and, wrapped in this superb, if paralysing, creed, the Musulmán lives in contented surrender of all volition, deems it his highest duty to worship God and to compel, or, where impossible, to despise those who do not worship Him in the spirit, and then dies in sure and certain hope of Paradise.

“... These Siyyids, or descendants of the Prophet, are an intolerable nuisance to the country, deducing from their alleged descent and from the prerogative of the green turban, the right to an independence and insolence of bearing from which their countrymen, no less than foreigners, are made to suffer.

“... As a community, the Persian Jews are sunk in great poverty and ignorance.... Throughout the Musulmán countries of the East these unhappy people have been subjected to the persecution which custom has taught themselves, as well as the world, to regard as their normal lot. Usually compelled to live apart in a Ghetto, or separate quarter of the towns, they have from time immemorial suffered from disabilities of occupation, dress, and habits, which have marked them out as social pariahs from their fellow-creatures.... In Iṣfahán, where there are said to be 3,700, and where they occupy a relatively better status than elsewhere in Persia, they are not permitted to wear the ‘kuláh’ or Persian head-dress, to have shops in the bazaar, to build the walls of their houses as high as a Muslim neighbour’s, or to ride in the streets.... As soon, however, as any outburst of bigotry takes place in Persia or elsewhere, the Jews are apt to be the first victims. Every man’s hand is then against them; and woe betide the luckless Hebrew who is the first to encounter a Persian street mob.

“... Perhaps the most extraordinary feature of Mashhad life, before I leave the subject of the shrine and the pilgrims, is the provision that is made for the material solace of the latter during their stay in the city. In recognition of the long journeys which they have made, of the hardships which they have sustained, and of the distances by which they are severed from family and home, they are permitted, with the connivance of the ecclesiastical law and its officers, to contract temporary marriages during their sojourn in the city. There is a large permanent population of wives suitable for the purpose. A mullá is found, under whose sanction a contract is drawn up and formally sealed by both parties, a fee is paid, and the union is legally accomplished. After the lapse of a fortnight or a month, or whatever be the specified period, the contract terminates; the temporary husband returns to his own lares et penates in some distant clime, and the lady, after an enforced celibacy of fourteen days’ duration, resumes her career of persevering matrimony. In other words, a gigantic system of prostitution, under the sanction of the Church, prevails in Mashhad. There is probably not a more immoral city in Asia; and I should be sorry to say how many of the unmurmuring pilgrims who traverse seas and lands to kiss the grating of the Imám’s tomb are not also encouraged and consoled upon their march by the prospect of an agreeable holiday and what might be described in the English vernacular as ‘a good spree.’”


“Before I quit the subject of the Persian law and its administration, let me add a few words upon the subject of penalties and prisons. Nothing is more shocking to the European reader, in pursuing his way through the crime-stained and bloody pages of Persian history during the last and, in a happily less degree, during the present century, than the record of savage punishments and abominable tortures, testifying alternately to the callousness of the brute and the ingenuity of the fiend. The Persian character has ever been fertile in device and indifferent to suffering; and in the field of judicial executions it has found ample scope for the exercise of both attainments. Up till quite a recent period, well within the borders of the present reign, condemned criminals have been crucified, blown from guns, buried alive, impaled, shod like horses, torn asunder by being bound to the heads of two trees bent together and then allowed to spring back to their natural position, converted into human torches, flayed while living.

“... Under a twofold governing system, such as that of which I have now completed the description — namely, an administration in which every actor is, in different aspects, both the briber and the bribed; and a judicial procedure, without either a law or a law court — it will readily be understood that confidence in the Government is not likely to exist, that there is no personal sense of duty or pride of honour, no mutual trust or co-operation (except in the service of ill-doing), no disgrace in exposure, no credit in virtue, above all no national spirit or patriotism. Those philosophers are right who argue that moral must precede material, and internal exterior, reform in Persia. It is useless to graft new shoots on to a stem whose own sap is exhausted or poisoned. We may give Persia roads and railroads; we may work her mines and exploit her resources; we may drill her army and clothe her artisans; but we shall not have brought her within the pale of civilised nations until we have got at the core of the people, and given a new and a radical twist to the national character and institutions. I have drawn this picture of Persian administration, which I believe to be true, in order that English readers may understand the system with which reformers, whether foreigners or natives, have to contend, and the iron wall of resistance, built up by all the most selfish instincts in human nature, that is opposed to progressive ideas. The Sháh himself, however genuine his desire for innovation, is to some extent enlisted on the side of this pernicious system, seeing that he owes to it his private fortune; while those who most loudly condemn it in private are not behind their fellows in outwardly bowing their heads in the temple of Rimmon. In every rank below the sovereign, the initiative is utterly wanting to start a rebellion against the tyranny of immemorial custom; and if a strong man like the present king can only tentatively undertake it, where is he who shall preach the crusade?”

(Extracts from Lord Curzon’s “Persia and the Persian Question.”)


Extracts from the Kitáb-i-Íqán

“Though young and tender of age, and though the Cause He revealed was contrary to the desire of all the peoples of the earth, both high and low, rich and poor, exalted and abased, king and subject, yet He arose and steadfastly proclaimed it. All have known and heard this. He feared no one; He was reckless of consequences. Could such a thing be made manifest except through the power of a Divine Revelation, and the potency of God’s invincible Will? By the righteousness of God! Were anyone to entertain so great a Revelation in his heart, the thought of such a declaration would alone confound him! Were the hearts of all men to be crowded into his heart, he would still hesitate to venture upon so awful an enterprise. He could achieve it only by the permission of God, only if the channel of his heart were to be linked with the Source of Divine grace, and his soul be assured of the unfailing sustenance of the Almighty. To what, We wonder, do they ascribe so great a daring? Do they accuse Him of madness as they accused the Prophets of old? Or do they maintain that His motive was none other than leadership and the acquisition of earthly riches?

“Gracious God! In His Book, which He hath entitled ‘Qayyúmu’l-Asmá’’ — the first, the greatest, and mightiest of all books — He prophesied His own martyrdom. In it is this passage: ‘O Thou Remnant of God! 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. Sufficient Witness unto me is God, the Exalted, the Protector, the Ancient of Days!’

“... Could the Revealer of such utterance be regarded as walking in any other way than the way of God, and as having yearned for aught else except His good pleasure? In this very verse there lieth concealed a breath of detachment for which, if it were breathed upon the world, all beings would renounce their life, and sacrifice their soul.

“... And now consider how this Sadrih of the Riḍván of God hath, in the prime of youth, risen to proclaim the Cause of God. Behold, what steadfastness He, the Beauty of God, hath revealed! The whole world rose to hinder Him, yet it utterly failed! The more severe the persecution they inflicted on that Sadrih of Blessedness, the more His fervour increased, and the brighter burned the flame of His love. All this is evident, and none disputeth its truth. Finally, He surrendered His soul, and winged His flight unto the realms above.

“... No sooner had that eternal Beauty revealed Himself in Shíráz, in the year sixty, and rent asunder the veil of concealment, than the signs of the ascendancy, the might, the sovereignty, and power emanating from that Essence of Essences and Sea of Seas, were manifest in every land. So much so, that from every city there appeared the signs, the evidences, the tokens, and testimonies of that Divine Luminary. How many were those pure and kindly hearts which faithfully reflected the light of that eternal Sun! And how manifold the emanations of knowledge from that Ocean of Divine Wisdom which encompassed all beings! ln every city, all the divines and nobles rose to hinder and repress them, and girded up the loins of malice, of envy, and tyranny for their suppression. How great the number of those holy souls, those essences of justice, who, accused of tyranny, were put to death! And how many embodiments of purity, who showed forth naught but true knowledge and stainless deeds, suffered an agonising death! Notwithstanding all this, each of these holy beings, up to his last moment, breathed the name of God and soared in the realm of submission and resignation. Such was the potency and transmuting influence which He exercised over them, that they ceased to cherish any desire but His Will, and wedded their souls to His remembrance.

“Reflect: Who in the world is able to manifest such transcendent power, such pervading influence? All these stainless hearts and sanctified souls have, with absolute resignation, responded to the summons of His decree. Instead of making complaint, they rendered thanks unto God, and, amidst the darkness of their anguish, they revealed naught but radiant acquiescence in His Will. It is well known how relentless was the hate, and how bitter the malice and enmity, entertained by all the peoples of the earth towards these Companions. The persecution and pain which they inflicted on these holy and spiritual beings were regarded by them as means unto salvation, prosperity, and everlasting success. Hath the world, since the days of Adam, witnessed such tumult, such violent commotion? Notwithstanding all the torture they suffered, and the manifold afflictions they endured, they became the object of universal opprobrium and execration. Methinks, patience was revealed only by virtue of their fortitude, and faithfulness itself was begotten by their deeds.

“Do thou ponder these momentous happenings in thine heart, so that thou mayest apprehend the greatness of this Revelation, and perceive its stupendous glory.”


“The cardinal point wherein the Shí‘ahs (as well as the other sects included under the more general term of Imámites) differ from the Sunnís is the doctrine of the Imámate. According to the belief of the latter, the vicegerency of the Prophet (Khiláfat) is a matter to be determined by the choice and election of his followers, and the visible head of the Musulmán world is qualified for the lofty position which he holds less by any special divine grace than by a combination of orthodoxy and administrative capacity. According to the Imámite view, on the other hand, the vicegerency is a matter altogether spiritual; an office conferred by God alone, first by His Prophet, and afterwards by those who so succeeded him, and having nothing to do with the popular choice or approval. In a word, the Khalífih of the Sunnís is merely the outward and visible Defender of the Faith: the Imám of the Shí‘ahs is the divinely ordained successor of the Prophet, one endowed with all perfections and spiritual gifts, one whom all the faithful must obey, whose decision is absolute and final, whose wisdom is superhuman, and whose words are authoritative. The general term Imámate is applicable to all who hold this latter view without reference to the way in which they trace the succession, and therefore includes such sects as the Báqirís and Ismá‘ílís as well as the Shí‘ah or ‘Church of the Twelve’ (Madhhab-i-Ithná-‘Asharíyyih), as they are more specifically termed, with whom alone we are here concerned. According to these, twelve persons successively held the office of Imám. These twelve are as follows:

1. ‘Alí-ibn-i-Abí-Ṭálib, the cousin and first disciple of the Prophet, assassinated by Ibn-i-Muljam at Kúfih, A.H. 40 (A.D. 661). 2. Ḥasan, son of ‘Alí and Fáṭimih, born A.H. 2, poisoned by order of Mu‘ávíyih I, A.H. 50 (A.D. 670). 3. Ḥusayn, son of ‘Alí and Fáṭimih, born A.H. 4, killed at Karbilá on Muḥarram 10, A.H. 61 (Oct. 10, A.D. 680). 4. ‘Alí, son of Ḥusayn and Shahribánú (daughter of Yazdigird, the last Sásáníyán king), generally called Imám Zaynu’l-‘Ábidín, poisoned by Valíd. 5. Muḥammad-Báqir, son of the above-mentioned Zaynu’l-‘Ábidín and his cousin Umm-i-‘Abdu’lláh, the daughter of Imám Ḥasan, poisoned by Ibráhím ibn-i-Valíd. 6. Ja‘far-i-Ṣádiq, son of Imám Muḥammad-Báqir, poisoned by order of Manṣúr, the ‘Abbáside Khalífih. 7. Músá-Káẓim, son of Imám Ja‘far-i-Ṣádiq, born A.H. 129, poisoned by order of Hárúnu’r-Rashíd, A.H. 183. 8. ‘Alí-ibn-i-Músá’r-Riḍá, generally called Imám Riḍá, born A.H. 153, poisoned near Ṭús, in Khurásán, by order of the Khalífih Ma’mún, A.H. 203, and buried at Mashhad, which derives its name and its sanctity from him. 9. Muḥammad-Taqí, son of Imám Riḍá, born A.H. 195, poisoned by the Khalífih Mu‘taṣim at Baghdád, A.H. 220. 10. ‘Alí-Naqí, son of Imám Muḥammad-Taqí, born A.H. 213, poisoned at Surra-man-Ra’á, A.H. 254. 11. Ḥasan-i-‘Askarí, son of Imám ‘Alí-Naqí, born A.H. 232, poisoned A.H. 260. 12. Muḥammad, son of Imám Ḥasan-i-‘Askarí and Nargis-Khátún, called by the Shí‘ahs ‘Imám-Mihdí,’ ‘Ḥujjatu’lláh’ (the Proof of God), ‘Baqíyyatu’lláh’ (the Remnant of God), and ‘Qá’im-i-Ál-i-Muḥammad’ (He who shall arise of the family of Muḥammad). He bore not only the same name but the same kunyih — Abu’l-Qásim — as the Prophet, and according to the Shí‘ahs it is not lawful for any other to bear this name and this kunyih together. He was born at Surra-man-Ra’á, A.H. 255, and succeeded his father in the Imámate, A.H. 260.

“The Shí‘ahs hold that he did not die, but disappeared in an underground passage in Surra-man-Ra’á, A.H. 329; that he still lives, surrounded by a chosen band of his followers, in one of those mysterious cities, Jábulqá and Jábulṣá; and that when the fulness of time is come, when the earth is filled with injustice, and the faithful are plunged in despair, he will come forth, heralded by Jesus Christ, overthrow the infidels, establish universal peace and justice, and inaugurate a millennium of blessedness. During the whole period of his Imámate, i.e. from A.H. 260 till the present day, the Imám Mihdí has been invisible and inaccessible to the mass of his followers, and this is what is signified by the term ‘Occultation’ (Ghaybat). After assuming the functions of Imám and presiding at the burial of his father and predecessor, the Imám Ḥasan-i-‘Askarí, he disappeared from the sight of all save a chosen few, who, one after the other, continued to act as channels of communication between him and his followers. These persons were known as ‘Gates’ (Abváb). The first of them was Abú-‘Umar-‘Uthmán ibn-i-Sa‘íd ‘Umarí; the second Abú-Ja‘far Muḥammad-ibn-i-‘Uthmán, son of the above; the third Ḥusayn-ibn-i-Rúḥ Naw-bakhtí; the fourth Abu’l-Ḥasan ‘Alí-ibn-i-Muḥammad Símarí. Of these ‘Gates’ the first was appointed by the Imám Ḥasan-i-‘Askarí, the others by the then acting ‘Gate’ with the sanction and approval of the Imám Mihdí. This period — extending over 69 years — during which the Imám was still accessible by means of the ‘Gates,’ is known as the ‘Lesser’ or ‘Minor Occultation’ (Ghaybat-i-Ṣughrá). This was succeeded by the ‘Greater’ or ‘Major Occultation’ (Ghaybat-i-Kubrá). When Abu’l-Ḥasan ‘Alí, the last of the ‘Gates,’ drew near to his latter end, he was urged by the faithful (who contemplated with despair the prospect of complete severance from the Imám) to nominate a successor. This, however, he refused to do, saying, ‘God hath a purpose which He will accomplish.’ So on his death all communication between the Imám and his Church ceased, and the ‘Major Occultation’ began and shall continue until the Return of the Imám takes place in the fulness of time.”

(Excerpt from “A Traveller’s Narrative,” Note O, pp. 296–99.)



Umayyad Caliphs, 661–749 A.D. ‘Abbásid Caliphs, 749–1258 A.D Fáṭimite Caliphs, 1258–1517 A.D. Ottoman Caliphs, 1517–19 A.D. Birth of Muḥammad, August 20th, 570 A.D. Declaration of His Mission, 613–14 A.D. His flight to Medina, 622 A.D. Abú-Bakri’ṣ-Ṣiddíq-ibn-i-Abí-Quḥáfih, 632–34 A.D. ‘Umar-ibn-i’l-Khaṭṭáb 634–44 A.D. ‘Uthmán-ibn-i-‘Affán, 644–56 A.D. ‘Alí-ibn-i-Abí-Ṭálib, 656–61 A.D.


“... The law in Persia, and, indeed, among Musulmán peoples in general, consists of two branches: the religious, and the common law; that which is based upon the Muḥammadan Scriptures, and that which is based on precedent; that which is administered by ecclesiastical, and that which is administered by civil tribunals. In Persia, the former is known as the Shar‘, the latter as the ‘Urf. From the two is evolved a jurisprudence which, although in no sense scientific, is yet reasonably practical in application and is roughly accommodated to the needs and circumstances of those for whom it is dispensed. The basis of authority in the case of the Shar‘, or Ecclesiastical Law, consists of the utterances of the Prophet in the Qur’án; of the opinions of the Twelve Holy Imáms, whose voice in the judgment of the Shí‘ah Muḥammadans is of scarcely inferior weight; and of the commentaries of a school of pre-eminent ecclesiastical jurists. The latter have played much the same part in adding to the volume of the national jurisprudence that the famous juris consulti did with the Common Law of Rome, or the Talmudic commentators with the Hebrew system. The body of law so framed has been roughly codified and divided into four heads, dealing respectively with religious rites and duties, with contracts and obligations, with personal affairs, and with sumptuary rules and judicial procedure. This law is administered by an ecclesiastical court, consisting of mullás, i.e. lay priests and mujtahids, i.e. learned doctors of the law, assisted sometimes by qáḍís or judges, and under the presidency of an official, known as the Shaykhu’l-Islám, one of whom is, as a rule, appointed to every large city by the sovereign. In olden days, the chief of this ecclesiastical hierarchy was the Ṣadru’ṣ-Ṣudúr, or Pontifex Maximus, a dignitary who was chosen by the king and placed over the entire priesthood and judicial bench of the kingdom. But this office was abolished in his anti-clerical campaign by Nádir Sháh, and has never been renewed. In smaller centres of population and villages, the place of this court is taken by the local mullá or mullás, who, for a consideration, are always ready with a text from the Qur’án. In the case of the higher courts, the decision is invariably written out, along with the citation from the Scriptures, or the commentators, upon which it is based. Cases of extreme importance are referred to the more eminent mujtahids, of whom there is never a large number, who gain their position solely by eminent learning or abilities, ratified by the popular approval, and whose decisions are seldom impugned.... In works upon the theory of the law in Persia, it is commonly written that criminal cases are decided by the ecclesiastical, and civil cases by the secular, courts. In practice, however, there is no such clear distinction; the functions and the prerogative of the co-ordinate benches vary at different epochs, and appear to be a matter of accident or choice rather than of necessity; and at the present time, though criminal cases of difficulty may be submitted to the ecclesiastical court, yet it is with civil matters that they are chiefly concerned. Questions of heresy or sacrilege are naturally referred to them; they also take cognisance of adultery and divorce; and intoxication as an offence, not against the common law (indeed, if it were a matter of precedent, insobriety could present the highest credentials in Persia), but against the Qur’án, falls within the scope of their judgment....

“From the Shar‘, I pass to the ‘Urf, or Common Law. Nominally this is based on oral tradition, on precedent, and on custom. As such, it varies in different parts of the country. But, there being no written or recognised code, it is found to vary still more in practice according to the character or caprice of the individual who administers it.... The administrators of the ‘Urf are the civil magistrates throughout the kingdom, there being no secular court or bench of judges after the Western model. In a village the case will be brought before the kad-khudá, or headman; in a town before the dárúghih, or police magistrate. To their judgment are submitted all the petty offences that occupy a city police-court or a bench of country magistrates in England. The penalty in the case of larceny, or assault, or such like offences, is, as a rule, restitution, either in kind or in money value; while, if lack of means renders this impossible, the criminal is soundly thrashed. All ordinary criminal cases are brought before the ḥakím, or governor of a town; the more important before the provincial governor or governor-general. The ultimate court of appeal in each case is the king, of whose sovereign authority these subordinate exercises of jurisdiction are merely a delegation, although it is rare that a suppliant at any distance from the capital can make his complaint heard so far.... Justice, as dispensed in this fashion by the officers of government in Persia, obeys no law and follows no system. Publicity is the sole guarantee for fairness; but great is the scope, especially in the lower grades, for píshkash and the bribe. The dárúghis have the reputation of being both harsh and venal, and there are some who go so far as to say that there is not a sentence of an official in Persia, even of the higher ranks, that cannot be swayed by a pecuniary consideration.”

(Excerpts from Lord Curzon’s “Persia and the Persian Question,” vol. 1, pp. 452–55.)

[Fold-out genealogical chart of the Báb bound between pages lviii and lix.]


1. Descendant of the Imám Ḥusayn, resident of Shíráz. 2. Wife of the Báb. 3. Surnamed “Afnán-i-Kabír.” 4. Wife of Mírzá Zaynu’l-‘Ábidín. 5. Known as “Saqqá-Khání.” 6. Wife of Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid Ḥasan, son of Mírzá ‘Alí. 7. Died at birth. 8. Surnamed “Khál-i-Aṣghar,” to whom the Kitáb-i-Íqán was addressed. 9. Surnamed “Khál-i-A‘ẓam,” one of the Seven Martyrs of Ṭihrán. 10. Surnamed “Vakílu’d-Dawlih,” chief builder of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in ‘Ishqábád. 11. Surnamed “Vazír,” native of Núr in Mázindarán; named ‘Abbás. 12. Named ‘Abbás. 13. Named ‘Alí-Muḥammad. 14. Named Ḥusayn-‘Alí. 15. Wife of Vakílu’d-Dawlih, Ḥájí Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí. 16. Only son of Ḥájí Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí. 17. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s son-in-law. 18. Descendant of the Imám Ḥusayn, merchant and native of Shíráz. 19. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s son-in-law. 20. Only child of Mírzá Abu’l-Fatḥ.


Fatḥ-‘Alí Sháh, 1798–1834 A.D. Muḥammad Sháh, 1835–48 A.D. Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh, 1848–96 A.D. Muẓaffari’d-Dín Sháh, 1896–1907 A.D. Muḥammad-‘Alí Sháh, 1907–9 A.D. Aḥmad Sháh, 1909–25 A.D. Mírzá Abu’l-Qásim-i-Qá’im-Maqám. Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí. Mírzá Taqí Khán Amír-Niẓám. Mírzá Áqá Khán-i-Núrí.

[Fold-out chart of the “Pedigree of the Qájár Dynasty” between pages lx and lxi.]


Grateful acknowledgment is made to Lady Blomfield for her valuable suggestions; to an English correspondent for his help in the preparation of the Introduction; to Mrs. E. Hoagg for the typing of the manuscript; to Miss Effie Baker for the photographs used in illustrating this book. — The Translator.



IT IS my intention, by the aid and assistance of God, to devote the introductory pages of this narrative to such accounts as I have been able to obtain regarding those twin great lights, Shaykh Aḥmad-i-Aḥsá’í and Siyyid Káẓim-i-Rashtí, after which it is my hope to recount, in their chronological order, the chief events that have happened since the year ’60, the year that witnessed the declaration of the Faith by the Báb, until the present time, the year 1305 A.H.

In certain instances I shall go into some detail, in others I shall content myself with a brief summary of events. I shall place on record a description of the episodes I myself have witnessed, as well as those that have been reported to me by trustworthy and recognised informants, specifying in every case their names and standing. Those to whom I am primarily indebted are the following: Mírzá Aḥmad-i-Qazvíní, the Báb’s amanuensis; Siyyid Ismá‘íl-i-Dhabíḥ; Shaykh Ḥasan-i-Zunúzí; Shaykh Abú-Turáb-i-Qazvíní; and, last but not least, Mírzá Músá, Áqáy-i-Kalím, brother of Bahá’u’lláh.

I render thanks to God for having assisted me in the writing of these preliminary pages, and for having blessed and honoured them with the approval of Bahá’u’lláh, who has graciously deigned to consider them and who signified, through His amanuensis Mírzá Áqá Ján, who read them to Him, His pleasure and acceptance. I pray that the Almighty may sustain and guide me lest I err and falter in the task I have set myself to accomplish.


‘Akká, Palestine, 1305 A.H.

<u>Sh</u>ay<u>kh</u> Aḥmad SHAYKH AḤMAD-I-AḤSÁ’Í




His departure from Baḥrayn to ‘Iráq

His visit to Najaf and Karbilá

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

Bereft of all earthly possessions, and detached from all save God, he, in the early days of the thirteenth century of the Hegira, when forty years of age, arose to dedicate the remaining days of his life to the task he felt impelled to shoulder. He first proceeded to Najaf and Karbilá, where in a few years he acquired familiarity with the prevailing thoughts and standards current among the learned men of Islám. There he came to be recognised as one of the authorised expounders of the Islamic Holy Writ, was declared a mujtahid, and soon obtained an ascendancy over the rest of his colleagues, who either visited or were residing in those holy cities. These came to regard him as one initiated into the mysteries of Divine Revelation, and qualified to unravel the abstruse utterances of Muḥammad and of the imáms of the Faith. As his influence increased, and the scope of his authority widened, he found himself besieged on every side by an ever-increasing number of devoted enquirers who asked to be enlightened regarding the intricacies of the Faith, all of which he ably and fully expounded. By his knowledge and fearlessness he struck terror to the hearts of the Ṣúfís and Neo-Platonists and other kindred schools of thought, who envied his learning and feared his ruthlessness. Thereby he acquired added favour in the eyes of those learned divines, who looked upon these sects as the disseminators of obscure and heretical doctrines. Yet, great as was his fame and universal as was the esteem in which he was regarded, he despised all the honours which his admirers lavished upon him. He marvelled at their servile devotion to dignity and rank, and refused resolutely to associate himself with the objects of their pursuits and desires.

General View of Najaf General View of Najaf

His journey to Shíráz

General View of Shíráz General View of Shíráz

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

Sons of Fath Ali Shah FATḤ-‘ALÍ SHÁH AND SONS

Fath Ali Shah

His stay in Yazd

a. His correspondence with Fatḥ-‘Alí Sháh

Having sown the seeds of Divine knowledge in the hearts of those whom he found receptive to his call, Shaykh Aḥmad set out for Yazd, where he tarried awhile, engaged continually in the dissemination of such truths as he felt urged to reveal. Most of his books and epistles were written in that city. Such was the fame he acquired, that the ruler of Persia, Fatḥ-‘Alí Sháh, was moved to address to him from Ṭihrán a written message, calling upon him to explain certain specific questions related to the abstruse teachings of the Muslim Faith, the meaning of which the leading ‘ulamás of his realm had been unable to unfold. To this he readily answered in the form of an epistle to which he gave the name of “Risáliy-i-Sulṭáníyyih.” The Sháh was so pleased with the tone and subject matter of that epistle that he forthwith sent him a second message, this time extending to him an invitation to visit his court. Replying to this second imperial message, he wrote the following: “As I had intended ever since my departure from Najaf and Karbilá to visit and pay my homage to the shrine of the Imám Riḍá in Mashhad, I venture to hope that your Imperial Majesty will graciously allow me to fulfil the vow which I have made. Later on, God willing, it is my hope and purpose to avail myself of the honour which your Imperial Majesty has deigned to confer upon me.”

b. His relations with Ḥájí ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb

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

c. The anecdote of Mírzá Maḥmúd-i-Qamṣarí

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

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

d. The arrival of Siyyid Káẓim-i-Rash

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

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

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

His pilgrimage to Mashhad

Shaykh Aḥmad, having thus committed his disciples to the care of Siyyid Káẓim, left for Khurásán. There he tarried awhile, in the close vicinity of the holy shrine of the Imám Riḍá in Mashhad. Within its precincts he pursued with undiminished zest the course of his labours. By resolving the intricacies that agitated the minds of the seekers, he continued to prepare the way for the advent of the coming Manifestation. In that city he became increasingly conscious that the Day which was to witness the birth of the promised One could not be far distant. The promised hour, he felt, was fast approaching. From the direction of Núr, in the province of Mázindarán, he was able to perceive the first glimmerings that heralded the dawn of the promised Dispensation. To him the Revelation foreshadowed in these following traditional utterances was at hand: “Ere long shall ye behold the countenance of your Lord resplendent as the moon in its full glory. And yet, ye shall fail to unite in acknowledging His truth and embracing His Faith.” And “One of the most mighty signs that shall signalise the advent of the promised Hour is this: ‘A woman shall give birth to One who shall be her Lord.’”

Fath Ali Shah Painting of Mírzá Buzurg
(Father of Bahá’u’lláh)

His triumphal entry into Ṭihrán

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

His departure for Kirmánsháh

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

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

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

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

His return to Karbilá

After the death of Prince Muḥammad-‘Alí Mírzá, Shaykh Aḥmad, freed from the urgent solicitations of the Prince to extend his sojourn in Kirmánsháh, transferred his residence to Karbilá. Though to outward seeming he was circling round the shrine of the Siyyidu’sh-Shuhadá, the Imám Ḥusayn, his heart, whilst he performed those rites, was set upon that true Ḥusayn, the only object of his devotions. A host of the most distinguished ‘ulamás and mujtahids thronged to see him. Many began to envy his reputation, and a number sought to undermine his authority. However much they strove, they failed to shake his position of undoubted preeminence amongst the learned men of that city. Eventually that shining light was summoned to shed its radiance upon the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Thither he journeyed, there he pursued with unstinted devotion his labours, and there he was laid to rest beneath the shadow of the Prophet’s sepulchre, for the understanding of whose Cause he had so faithfully laboured.

His journey to Mecca and Medina, and his death

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

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

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

Shaykh Aḥmad died soon after, in the year 1242 A.H., at the age of eighty-one, and was laid to rest in the cemetery of Baqí‘, in the close vicinity of the resting place of Muḥammad in the holy city of Medina.



His relations with Ḥájí Siyyid Muḥammad-Báqir-i-Rash

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

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

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

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

His allusions to the Promised One

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

The anecdote of Shaykh Ḥasan-i-Zunúzí

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

view of Karbila View of Karbilá

a. Siyyid Káẓim’s visit to the Báb

b. The Báb’s attendance at the teaching classes of Siyyid Káẓim

Shaykh Ḥasan-i-Zunúzí, himself, informed me that he too entertained such doubts, that he prayed to God that if his supposition was well founded he should be confirmed in his belief, and if not that he should be delivered from such idle fancy. “I was so perturbed,” he once related to me, “that for days I could neither eat nor sleep. My days were spent in the service of Siyyid Káẓim, to whom I was greatly attached. One day, at the hour of dawn, I was suddenly awakened by Mullá Naw-Rúz, one of his intimate attendants, who, in great excitement, bade me arise and follow him. We went to the house of Siyyid Káẓim, where we found him fully dressed, wearing his ‘abá, and ready to leave his home. He asked me to accompany him. ‘A highly esteemed and distinguished Person,’ he said, ‘has arrived. I feel it incumbent upon us both to visit Him.’ The morning light had just broken when I found myself walking with him through the streets of Karbilá. We soon reached a house, at the door of which stood a Youth, as if expectant to receive us. He wore a green turban, and His countenance revealed an expression of humility and kindliness which I can never describe. He quietly approached us, extended His arms towards Siyyid Káẓim, and lovingly embraced him. His affability and loving-kindness singularly contrasted with the sense of profound reverence that characterised the attitude of Siyyid Káẓim towards him. Speechless and with bowed head, he received the many expressions of affection and esteem with which that Youth greeted him. We were soon led by Him to the upper floor of that house, and entered a chamber bedecked with flowers and redolent of the loveliest perfume. He bade us be seated. We knew not, however, what seats we actually occupied, so overpowering was the sense of delight which seized us. We observed a silver cup which had been placed in the centre of the room, which our youthful Host, soon after we were seated, filled to overflowing, and handed to Siyyid Káẓim, saying: ‘A drink of a pure beverage shall their Lord give them.’ Siyyid Káẓim held the cup with both hands and quaffed it. A feeling of reverent joy filled his being, a feeling which he could not suppress. I too was presented with a cupful of that beverage, though no words were addressed to me. All that was spoken at that memorable gathering was the above-mentioned verse of the Qur’án. Soon after, the Host arose from His seat and, accompanying us to the threshold of the house, bade us farewell. I was mute with wonder, and knew not how to express the cordiality of His welcome, the dignity of His bearing, the charm of that face, and the delicious fragrance of that beverage. How great was my amazement when I saw my teacher quaff without the least hesitation that holy draught from a silver cup, the use of which, according to the precepts of Islám, is forbidden to the faithful. I could not explain the motive which could have induced the Siyyid to manifest such profound reverence in the presence of that Youth — a reverence which even the sight of the shrine of the Siyyidu’sh-Shuhadá had failed to excite. Three days later, I saw that same Youth arrive and take His seat in the midst of the company of the assembled disciples of Siyyid Káẓim. He sat close to the threshold, and with the same modesty and dignity of bearing listened to the discourse of the Siyyid. As soon as his eyes fell upon that Youth, the Siyyid discontinued his address and held his peace. Whereupon one of his disciples begged him to resume the argument which he had left unfinished. ‘What more shall I say?’ replied Siyyid Káẓim, as he turned his face toward the Báb. ‘Lo, the Truth is more manifest than the ray of light that has fallen upon that lap!’ I immediately observed that the ray to which the Siyyid referred had fallen upon the lap of that same Youth whom we had recently visited. ‘Why is it,’ that questioner enquired, ‘that you neither reveal His name nor identify His person?’ To this the Siyyid replied by pointing with his finger to his own throat, implying that were he to divulge His name, they both would be put to death instantly. This added still further to my perplexity. I had already heard my teacher observe that so great is the perversity of this generation, that were he to point with his finger to the promised One and say: ‘He indeed is the Beloved, the Desire of your hearts and mine,’ they would still fail to recognise and acknowledge Him. I saw the Siyyid actually point out with his finger the ray of light that had fallen on that lap, and yet none among those who were present seemed to apprehend its meaning. I, for my part, was convinced that the Siyyid himself could never be the promised One, but that a mystery inscrutable to us all, lay concealed in that strange and attractive Youth. Several times I ventured to approach Siyyid Káẓim and seek from him an elucidation of this mystery. Every time I approached him, I was overcome by a sense of awe which his personality so powerfully inspired. Many a time I heard him remark: ‘O Shaykh Ḥasan, rejoice that your name is Ḥasan [praiseworthy]; Ḥasan your beginning, and Ḥasan your end. You have been privileged to attain to the day of Shaykh Aḥmad, you have been closely associated with me, and in the days to come yours shall be the inestimable joy of beholding “what eye hath seen not, ear heard not, nor any heart conceived.”’

Shrine of the Imám Ḥusayn Shrine of the Imám Ḥusayn in Karbilá

c. The Báb’s visit to the shrine of Imám Ḥusayn

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

Shrine of the Imám Ḥusayn Shrine of the Imám Ḥusayn in Karbilá

d. Shaykh Ḥasan’s visit to Shíráz and Máh-Kú

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

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

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

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

e. His meeting with Bahá’u’lláh in Karbilá

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

I now return, after this digression, to my theme. I had been referring to the eagerness with which Siyyid Káẓim had determined to rend asunder those veils which intervened between the people of his day and the recognition of the promised Manifestation. In the introductory pages of his works, entitled Sharḥ-i-Qaṣídih and Sharḥ-i-Khuṭbih, he, in veiled language, alludes to the blessed name of Bahá’u’lláh. In a booklet, the last he wrote, he explicitly mentions the name of the Báb by his reference to the term Dhikru’lláh-i-A‘ẓam.” In it he writes: “Addressing this noble ‘Dhikr,’ this mighty voice of God, I say: ‘I am apprehensive of the people, lest they harm you. I am apprehensive of my own self, lest I too may hurt you. I fear you, I tremble at your authority, I dread the age in which you live. Were I to treasure you as the apple of my eye until the Day of Resurrection, I would not sufficiently have proved my devotion to you.’”

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

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

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

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

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

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

The allusions of Siyyid Káẓim to his unfaithful disciples

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

The account related by Shaykh Abú-Turáb

I have heard Shaykh Abú-Turáb recount the following: “I, together with a number of the disciples of Siyyid Káẓim, regarded the allusions to these deficiencies, from which the Siyyid declared the promised One to be free, as specifically directed toward three individuals amongst our fellow-disciples. We even designated them by such appellations as indicated their bodily defects. One of them was Ḥájí Mírzá Karím Khán, son of Ibráhím Khán-i-Qájár-i-Kirmání, who was both one-eyed and sparsely bearded. Another was Mírzá Ḥasan-i-Gawhar, an exceptionally corpulent man. The third was Mírzá Muḥíṭ-i-Shá‘ir-i-Kirmání, who was extraordinarily lean and tall. We felt convinced that these were none other than those to whom the Siyyid constantly alluded as those vain and faithless people who would eventually reveal their real selves, and betray their ingratitude and folly. As to Ḥájí Mírzá Karím Khán, who for years sat at the feet of Siyyid Káẓim and acquired from him all his so-called learning, in the end he obtained leave from his master to settle in Kirmán, and there engage in the promotion of the interests of Islám and the dissemination of those traditions that clustered round the sacred memory of the Imáms of the Faith.

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

View of Káẓimayn View of Káẓimayn

The exhortations of Siyyid Káẓim to his disciples

And as the days of Siyyid Káẓim drew to a close, he, whenever he met his disciples, whether in private converse or public discourse, exhorted them, saying: “O my beloved companions! Beware, beware, lest after me the world’s fleeting vanities beguile you. Beware lest you wax haughty and forgetful of God. It is incumbent upon you to renounce all comfort, all earthly possessions and kindred, in your quest of Him who is the Desire of your hearts and of mine. Scatter far and wide, detach yourselves from all earthly things, and humbly and prayerfully beseech your Lord to sustain and guide you. Never relax in your determination to seek and find Him who is concealed behind the veils of glory. Persevere till the time when He, who is your true Guide and Master, will graciously aid you and enable you to recognise Him. Be firm till the day when He will choose you as the companions and the heroic supporters of the promised Qá’im. Well is it with every one of you who will quaff the cup of martyrdom in His path. Those of you whom God, in His wisdom, will preserve and keep to witness the setting of the Star of Divine guidance, that Harbinger of the Sun of Divine Revelation, must needs be patient, must remain assured and steadfast. Such ones amongst you must neither falter nor feel dismayed. For soon after the first trumpet-blast which is to smite the earth with extermination and death, there shall be sounded again yet another call, at which all things will be quickened and revived. Then will the meaning of these sacred verses be revealed: ‘And there was a blast on the trumpet, and all who are in the heavens and all who are in the earth expired, save those whom God permitted to live. Then was there sounded another blast, and, lo! arising, they gazed around them. And the earth shone with the light of her Lord, and the Book was set, and the Prophets were brought up, and the witnesses; and judgment was given between them with equity; and none was wronged.’ Verily I say, after the Qá’im the Qayyúm will be made manifest. For when the star of the Former has set, the sun of the beauty of Ḥusayn will rise and illuminate the whole world. Then will be unfolded in all its glory the ‘mystery’ and the ‘secret’ spoken of by Shaykh Aḥmad, who has said: ‘The mystery of this Cause must needs be made manifest, and the secret of this Message must needs be divulged.’ To have attained unto that Day of days is to have attained unto the crowning glory of past generations, and one goodly deed performed in that age is equal to the pious worship of countless centuries. How often has that venerable soul, Shaykh Aḥmad, recited those verses of the Qur’án already referred to! What stress he laid upon their significance as foreshadowing the advent of those twin Revelations which are to follow each other in rapid succession, and each of which is destined to suffuse the world with all its glory! How many times did he exclaim: ‘Well is it with him who will recognise their significance and behold their splendour!’ How often, addressing me, did he remark: ‘Neither of us shall live to gaze upon their effulgent glory. But many of the faithful among your disciples shall witness the Day which we, alas, can never hope to behold!’ O my beloved companions! How great, how very great, is the Cause! How exalted the station to which I summon you! How great the mission for which I have trained and prepared you! Gird up the loins of endeavour, and fix your gaze upon His promise. I pray to God graciously to assist you to weather the storms of tests and trials which must needs beset you, to enable you to emerge, unscathed and triumphant, from their midst, and to lead you to your high destiny.”

Section of the Masjid-i-Baráthá Section of the Masjid-i-Baráthá

The meeting of Siyyid Káẓim with the Arab shepherd

Every year, in the month of Dhi’l-Qa‘dih, the Siyyid would proceed from Karbilá to Káẓimayn in order to visit the shrines of the imáms. He would return to Karbilá in time to visit, on the day of ‘Arafih, the shrine of the Imám Ḥusayn. In that year, the last year of his life, he, faithful to his custom, departed from Karbilá in the first days of the month of Dhi’l-Qa‘dih, in the year 1259 A.H., accompanied by a number of his companions and friends. On the fourth day of that month he arrived at the Masjid-i-Baráthá, situated on the highway between Baghdád and Káẓimayn, in time to offer up his noonday prayer. He bade the Mu’adhdhin summon the faithful to gather and pray. Standing beneath the shade of a palm which faced the masjid, he joined the congregation, and had just concluded his devotions when an Arab suddenly appeared, approached the Siyyid, and embraced him. “Three days ago,” he said, “I was shepherding my flock in this adjoining pasture, when sleep suddenly fell upon me. In my dream I saw Muḥammad, the Apostle of God, who addressed me in these words: ‘Give ear, O shepherd, to My words, and treasure them within your heart. For these words of Mine are the trust of God which I commit to your keeping. If you be faithful to them, great will be your reward. If you neglect them, grievous retribution will befall you. Hear Me; this is the trust with which I charge you: Stay within the precincts of the Masjid-i-Baráthá. On the third day after this dream, a scion of My house, Siyyid Káẓim by name, will, accompanied by his friends and companions, alight, at the hour of noon, beneath the shadow of the palm in the vicinity of the masjid. There he will offer his prayer. As soon as your eyes fall upon him, seek his presence and convey to him My loving greetings. Tell him, from Me: “Rejoice, for the hour of your departure is at hand. When you shall have performed your visits in Káẓimayn and shall have returned to Karbilá, there, three days after your return, on the day of ‘Arafih, you will wing your flight to Me. Soon after shall He who is the Truth be made manifest. Then shall the world be illuminated by the light of His face.”’” A smile wreathed the countenance of Siyyid Káẓim upon the completion of the description of the dream related by that shepherd. He said: “Of the truth of the dream which you have dreamt there is no doubt.” His companions were sorely grieved. Turning to them, he said: “Is not your love for me for the sake of that true One whose advent we all await? Would you not wish me to die, that the promised One may be revealed?” This episode, in its entirety, has been related to me by no less than ten persons, all of whom were present on that occasion, and who testified to its accuracy. And yet many of those who witnessed with their own eyes such marvellous signs have rejected the Truth and repudiated His Message!

Death of Siyyid Káẓim

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

Site of Siyyid Káẓim’s Resting Place Site of Siyyid Káẓim’s Resting Place
(Tombstone now Removed)



The arrival of Mullá Ḥusayn in Karbilá

THE death of Siyyid Káẓim was the signal for renewed activity on the part of his enemies. Athirst for leadership, and emboldened by his removal and the consequent dismay of his followers, they reasserted their claims and prepared to realise their ambitions. For a time, fear and anxiety filled the hearts of Siyyid Káẓim’s faithful disciples, but with the return of Mullá Ḥusayn-i-Bushrú’í from the highly successful mission with which he had been entrusted by his teacher, their gloom was dispelled.

Significance of the year '60

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

Home of Mullá Ḥusayn Home of Mullá Ḥusayn

As the year sixty, the year that witnessed the birth of the promised Revelation, had just dawned upon the world, it would not seem inappropriate, at this juncture, to digress from our theme, and to mention certain traditions of Muḥammad and of the imáms of the Faith which bear specific reference to that year. Imám Ja‘far, son of Muḥammad, when questioned concerning the year in which the Qá’im was to be made manifest, replied as follows: “Verily, in the year sixty His Cause shall be revealed, and His name shall be noised abroad.” In the works of the learned and far-famed Muḥyi’d-Dín-i-‘Arabí, many references are to be found regarding both the year of the advent and the name of the promised Manifestation. Among them are the following: “The ministers and upholders of His Faith shall be of the people of Persia.” “In His name, the name of the Guardian [‘Alí] precedeth that of the Prophet [Muḥammad].” “The year of His Revelation is identical with half of that number which is divisible by nine [2520].” Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Akhbárí, in his poems relating to the year of the Manifestation, makes the following prediction: “In the year Ghars [the numerical value of the letters of which is 1260] the earth shall be illumined by His light, and in Gharasih [1265] the world shall be suffused with its glory. If thou livest until the year Gharasí [1270], thou shalt witness how the nations, the rulers, the peoples, and the Faith of God shall all have been renewed.” In a tradition ascribed to the Imám ‘Alí, the Commander of the Faithful, it is likewise recorded: “In Ghars the Tree of Divine guidance shall be planted.”

Departure of Mullá Ḥusayn for Najaf and Búshihr

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

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

Immediately after the completion of his forty days’ retirement, Mullá Ḥusayn, together with his two companions, departed for Najaf. He left Karbilá by night, visited on his way the shrine of Najaf, and proceeded directly to Búshihr, on the Persian Gulf. There he started on his holy quest after the Beloved of his heart’s desire. There, for the first time, he inhaled the fragrance of Him who, for years, had led in that city the life of a merchant and humble citizen. There he perceived the sweet savours of holiness with which that Beloved’s countless invocations had so richly impregnated the atmosphere of that city.

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

Outskirts of Shíráz Where the Báb Often went to Walk Outskirts of Shíráz Where the Báb
Often went to Walk

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

Mírzá Aḥmad-i-Qazvíní, the martyr, who on several occasions had heard Mullá Ḥusayn recount to the early believers the story of his moving and historic interview with the Báb, related to me the following: “I have heard Mullá Ḥusayn repeatedly and graphically describe the circumstances of that remarkable interview: ‘The Youth who met me outside the gate of Shíráz overwhelmed me with expressions of affection and loving-kindness. He extended to me a warm invitation to visit His home, and there refresh myself after the fatigues of my journey. I prayed to be excused, pleading that my two companions had already arranged for my stay in that city, and were now awaiting my return. “Commit them to the care of God,” was His reply; “He will surely protect and watch over them.” Having spoken these words, He bade me follow Him. I was profoundly impressed by the gentle yet compelling manner in which that strange Youth spoke to me. As I followed Him, His gait, the charm of His voice, the dignity of His bearing, served to enhance my first impressions of this unexpected meeting.

Entrance Entrance of the Báb’s House in Shíráz

Interview of Mullá Ḥusayn with the Báb in Shíráz

“‘We soon found ourselves standing at the gate of a house of modest appearance. He knocked at the door, which was soon opened by an Ethiopian servant. “Enter therein in peace, secure,” were His words as He crossed the threshold and motioned me to follow Him. His invitation, uttered with power and majesty, penetrated my soul. I thought it a good augury to be addressed in such words, standing as I did on the threshold of the first house I was entering in Shíráz, a city the very atmosphere of which had produced already an indescribable impression upon me. Might not my visit to this house, I thought to myself, enable me to draw nearer to the Object of my quest? Might it not hasten the termination of a period of intense longing, of strenuous search, of increasing anxiety, which such a quest involves? As I entered the house and followed my Host to His chamber, a feeling of unutterable joy invaded my being. Immediately we were seated, He ordered a ewer of water to be brought, and bade me wash away from my hands and feet the stains of travel. I pleaded permission to retire from His presence and perform my ablutions in an adjoining room. He refused to grant my request, and proceeded to pour the water over my hands. He then gave me to drink of a refreshing beverage, after which He asked for the samovar and Himself prepared the tea which He offered me.

Orange Tree Planted by the Báb in the Courtyard of His House Orange Tree Planted by the Báb in the
Courtyard of His House

Steps Leading to the Declaration Chamber Steps Leading to the Declaration Chamber

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

“‘That night, that memorable night, was the eve preceding the fifth day of Jamádíyu’l-Avval, in the year 1260 A.H. It was about an hour after sunset when my youthful Host began to converse with me. “Whom, after Siyyid Káẓim,” He asked me, “do you regard as his successor and your leader?” “At the hour of his death,” I replied, “our departed teacher insistently exhorted us to forsake our homes, to scatter far and wide, in quest of the promised Beloved. I have, accordingly, journeyed to Persia, have arisen to accomplish his will, and am still engaged in my quest.” “Has your teacher,” He further enquired, “given you any detailed indications as to the distinguishing features of the promised One?” “Yes,” I replied, “He is of a pure lineage, is of illustrious descent, and of the seed of Fáṭimih. As to His age, He is more than twenty and less than thirty. He is endowed with innate knowledge. He is of medium height, abstains from smoking, and is free from bodily deficiency.” He paused for a while and then with vibrant voice declared: “Behold, all these signs are manifest in Me!” He then considered each of the above-mentioned signs separately, and conclusively demonstrated that each and all were applicable to His person. I was greatly surprised, and politely observed: “He whose advent we await is a Man of unsurpassed holiness, and the Cause He is to reveal, a Cause of tremendous power. Many and diverse are the requirements which He who claims to be its visible embodiment must needs fulfil. How often has Siyyid Káẓim referred to the vastness of the knowledge of the promised One! How often did he say: ‘My own knowledge is but a drop compared with that with which He has been endowed. All my attainments are but a speck of dust in the face of the immensity of His knowledge. Nay, immeasurable is the difference!’” No sooner had those words dropped from my lips than I found myself seized with fear and remorse, such as I could neither conceal nor explain. I bitterly reproved myself, and resolved at that very moment to alter my attitude and to soften my tone. I vowed to God that should my Host again refer to the subject, I would, with the utmost humility, answer and say: “If you be willing to substantiate your claim, you will most assuredly deliver me from the anxiety and suspense which so heavily oppress my soul. I shall truly be indebted to you for such deliverance.” When I first started upon my quest, I determined to regard the two following standards as those whereby I could ascertain the truth of whosoever might claim to be the promised Qá’im. The first was a treatise which I had myself composed, bearing upon the abstruse and hidden teachings propounded by Shaykh Aḥmad and Siyyid Káẓim. Whoever seemed to me capable of unravelling the mysterious allusions made in that treatise, to him I would next submit my second request, and would ask him to reveal, without the least hesitation or reflection, a commentary on the Súrih of Joseph, in a style and language entirely different from the prevailing standards of the time. I had previously requested Siyyid Káẓim, in private, to write a commentary on that same Súrih, which he refused, saying: “This is, verily, beyond me. He, that great One, who comes after me will, unasked, reveal it for you. That commentary will constitute one of the weightiest testimonies of His truth, and one of the clearest evidences of the loftiness of His position.”

“‘I was revolving these things in my mind, when my distinguished Host again remarked: “Observe attentively. Might not the Person intended by Siyyid Káẓim be none other than I?” I thereupon felt impelled to present to Him a copy of the treatise which I had with me. “Will you,” I asked Him, “read this book of mine and look at its pages with indulgent eyes? I pray you to overlook my weaknesses and failings.” He graciously complied with my wish. He opened the book, glanced at certain passages, closed it, and began to address me. Within a few minutes He had, with characteristic vigour and charm, unravelled all its mysteries and resolved all its problems. Having to my entire satisfaction accomplished, within so short a time, the task I had expected Him to perform, He further expounded to me certain truths which could be found neither in the reported sayings of the imáms of the Faith nor in the writings of Shaykh Aḥmad and Siyyid Káẓim. These truths, which I had never heard before, seemed to be endowed with refreshing vividness and power. “Had you not been My guest,” He afterwards observed, “your position would indeed have been a grievous one. The all-encompassing grace of God has saved you. It is for God to test His servants, and not for His servants to judge Him in accordance with their deficient standards. Were I to fail to resolve your perplexities, could the Reality that shines within Me be regarded as powerless, or My knowledge be accused as faulty? Nay, by the righteousness of God! it behoves, in this day, the peoples and nations of both the East and the West to hasten to this threshold, and here seek to obtain the reviving grace of the Merciful. Whoso hesitates will indeed be in grievous loss. Do not the peoples of the earth testify that the fundamental purpose of their creation is the knowledge and adoration of God? It behoves them to arise, as earnestly and spontaneously as you have arisen, and to seek with determination and constancy their promised Beloved.” He then proceeded to say: “Now is the time to reveal the commentary on the Súrih of Joseph.” He took up His pen and with incredible rapidity revealed the entire Súrih of Mulk, the first chapter of His commentary on the Súrih of Joseph. The overpowering effect of the manner in which He wrote was heightened by the gentle intonation of His voice which accompanied His writing. Not for one moment did He interrupt the flow of the verses which streamed from His pen. Not once did He pause till the Súrih of Mulk was finished. I sat enraptured by the magic of His voice and the sweeping force of His revelation. At last I reluctantly arose from my seat and begged leave to depart. He smilingly bade me be seated, and said: “If you leave in such a state, whoever sees you will assuredly say: ‘This poor youth has lost his mind.’” At that moment the clock registered two hours and eleven minutes after sunset. That night, the eve of the fifth day of Jamádíyu’l-Avval, in the year 1260 A.H., corresponded with the eve preceding the sixty-fifth day after Naw-Rúz, which was also the eve of the sixth day of Khurdád, of the year Nahang. “This night,” He declared, “this very hour will, in the days to come, be celebrated as one of the greatest and most significant of all festivals. Render thanks to God for having graciously assisted you to attain your heart’s desire, and for having quaffed from the sealed wine of His utterance. ‘Well is it with them that attain thereunto.’”

The Báb’s House in Shíráz The Upper Room where He Declared His Mission

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

Views of the Báb’s House in Shíráz

The Báb’s Brazier and Samovar The Báb’s Brazier and Samovar

His Bedchamber His Bedchamber

His Sitting room His Sitting Room

His Mother’s Room The Báb’s Mother’s Room

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

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

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

Original Window Sash and Door Original Window Sash and Door of the Báb’s House in Shíráz

Views of the Upper Room of the Báb’s House in Shíráz The Upper Room where He Declared His Mission

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

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

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

Arrival of Mullá ‘Alíy-i-Basṭámí and his companions in Shíráz

Views of the Masjid-i-Ílkhání Views of the Masjid-i-Ílkhání

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

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

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

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

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

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

Room in Masjid-i-Ilkhání, Shíráz, In which the Báb and Mullá Ḥusayn Met Room in Masjid-i-Ílkhání,
Shíráz, In which the Báb and
Mullá Ḥusayn Met

Arrival of Quddús in Shíráz

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

Though distant in body, these heroic souls are engaged in daily communion with their Beloved, partake of the bounty of His utterance, and share the supreme privilege of His companionship. Otherwise how could Shaykh Aḥmad and Siyyid Káẓim have known of the Báb? How could they have perceived the significance of the secret which lay hidden in Him? How could the Báb Himself, how could Quddús, His beloved disciple, have written in such terms, had not the mystic bond of the spirit linked their souls together? Did not the Báb, in the earliest days of His Mission, allude, in the opening passages of the Qayyúmu’l-Asmá’, His commentary on the Súrih of Joseph, to the glory and significance of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh? Was it not His purpose, by dwelling upon the ingratitude and malice which characterised the treatment of Joseph by his brethren, to predict what Bahá’u’lláh was destined to suffer at the hands of His brother and kindred? Was not Quddús, although besieged within the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí by the battalions and fire of a relentless enemy, engaged, both in the daytime and in the night-season, in the completion of his eulogy of Bahá’u’lláh — that immortal commentary on the Ṣád of Ṣamad which had already assumed the dimensions of five hundred thousand verses? Every verse of the Qayyúmu’l-Asmá’, every word of the aforementioned commentary of Quddús, will, if dispassionately examined, bear eloquent testimony to this truth.

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

Room (Left Hand) Where the Báb was Born. Shíráz Room (Left Hand) Where the Báb
was Born. Shíráz

Views of the Public Bath in Shíráz Views of the Public Bath in Shíráz
Where the Báb Went as a Child

The early days of the Báb

a. His birth

The Báb, whose name was Siyyid ‘Alí-Muḥammad, was born in the city of Shíráz, on the first day of Muḥarram, in the year 1235 A.H. He belonged to a house which was renowned for its nobility and which traced its origin to Muḥammad Himself. The date of His birth confirmed the truth of the prophecy traditionally attributed to the Imám ‘Alí: “I am two years younger than my Lord.” Twenty-five years, four months, and four days had elapsed since the day of His birth, when He declared His Mission. In His early childhood He lost His father, Siyyid Muḥammad-Riḍá, a man who was known throughout the province of Fárs for his piety and virtue, and was held in high esteem and honour. Both His father and His mother were descendants of the Prophet, both were loved and respected by the people. He was reared by His maternal uncle, Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí, a martyr to the Faith, who placed Him, while still a child, under the care of a tutor named Shaykh ‘Ábid. The Báb, though not inclined to study, submitted to His uncle’s will and directions.



b. His school-days

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

Grave of the Báb’s Wife Grave of the Báb’s Wife in Sháh-Chirágh, Shíráz

Tree Marking the Resting Place of the Báb’s Infant Son Tree Marking the Resting Place of the Báb’s Infant
Son in Bábí-Dukhtarán, Shíráz

c. His marriage

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

d. His stay in Búshihr

The days which the Báb devoted to commercial pursuits were mostly spent in Búshihr. The oppressive heat of the summer did not deter Him from devoting, each Friday, several hours to continuous worship upon the roof of His house. Though exposed to the fierce rays of the noontide sun, He, turning His heart to His Beloved, continued to commune with Him, unmindful of the intensity of the heat and oblivious of the world around Him. From early dawn till sunrise, and from midday till late in the afternoon, He dedicated His time to meditation and pious worship. Turning His gaze towards the north, in the direction of Ṭihrán, He, at every break of day, greeted, with a heart overflowing with love and joy, the rising, sun, which to Him was a sign and symbol of that Day-Star of Truth that was soon to dawn upon the world. As a lover who beholds the face of his beloved, He gazed upon the rising orb with steadfastness and longing. He seemed to be addressing, in mystic language, that shining luminary, and to be entrusting it with His message of yearning and love to His concealed Beloved. With such transports of delight He greeted its beaming rays, that the heedless and ignorant around Him thought Him to be enamoured with the sun itself.

I have heard Ḥájí Siyyid Javád-i-Karbilá’í recount the following: “Whilst journeying to India, I passed through Búshihr. As I was already acquainted with Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí, I was enabled to meet the Báb on several occasions. Every time I met Him, I found Him in such a state of humility and lowliness as words fail me to describe. His downcast eyes, His extreme courtesy, and the serene expression of His face made an indelible impression upon my soul. I often heard those who were closely associated with Him testify to the purity of His character, to the charm of His manners, to His self-effacement, to His high integrity, and to His extreme devotion to God. A certain man confided to His care a trust, requesting Him to dispose of it at a fixed price. When the Báb sent him the value of that article, the man found that the sum which he had been offered considerably exceeded the limit which he had fixed. He immediately wrote to the Báb, requesting Him to explain the reason. The Báb 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 had delivered to Me had attained this value. Failing to sell it at that price, I now feel it My duty to offer you the whole of that sum.’ However much the Báb’s client entreated Him to receive back the sum in excess, the Báb persisted in refusing.

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

Letters of the Living

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

Mullá Ḥusayn-i-Bushrú’í, Muḥammad-Ḥasan, his brother, Muḥammad-Báqir, his nephew, Mullá ‘Alíy-i-Basṭámí, Mullá Khudá-Bakhsh-i-Qúchání, later named Mullá ‘Alí Mullá Ḥasan-i-Bajistání, Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Yazdí, Mírzá Muḥammad Khudá-Bakhsh-i-Qúchání, Sa‘íd-i-Hindí, Mullá Maḥmúd-i-Khu’í, Mullá Jalíl-i-Urúmí, Mullá Aḥmad-i-Ibdál-i-Marághi’í, Mullá Báqir-i-Tabrízí, Mullá Yúsuf-i-Ardibílí, Mírzá Hádí, son of Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb-i-Qazvíní, Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alíy-i-Qazvíní. Ṭáhirih, Quddús.

Reference to Ṭáhirih

These all, with the single exception of Ṭáhirih, attained the presence of the Báb, and were personally invested by Him with the distinction of this rank. It was she who, having learned of the intended departure of her sister’s husband, Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí, from Qazvín, entrusted him with a sealed letter, requesting that he deliver it to that promised One whom she said he was sure to meet in the course of his journey. “Say to Him, from me,” she added, “‘The effulgence of Thy face flashed forth, and the rays of Thy visage arose on high. Then speak the word, “Am I not your Lord?” and “Thou art, Thou art!” we will all reply.’”

Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí eventually met and recognised the Báb and conveyed to Him both the letter and the message of Ṭáhirih. The Báb forthwith declared her one of the Letters of the Living. Her father, Ḥájí Mullá Ṣáliḥ-i-Qazvíní, and his brother, Mullá Taqí, were both mujtahids of great renown, were skilled in the traditions of Muslim law, and were universally respected by the people of Ṭihrán, Qazvín, and other leading cities of Persia. She was married to Mullá Muḥammad, son of Mullá Taqí, her uncle, whom the shí‘ahs styled Shahíd-i-Thálith. Although her family belonged to the Bálá-Sarí, Ṭáhirih alone showed, from the very beginning, a marked sympathy and devotion to Siyyid Káẓim. As an evidence of her personal admiration for him, she wrote an apology in defence and justification of the teachings of Shaykh Aḥmad and presented it to him. To this she soon received a reply, couched in the most affectionate terms, in the opening passages of which the Siyyid thus addressed her: “O thou who art the solace of mine eyes (Yá Qurrat-i-‘Ayní!), and the joy of my heart!” Ever since that time she has been known as Qurratu’l-‘Ayn. After the historic gathering of Badasht, a number of those who attended were so amazed at the fearlessness and outspoken language of that heroine, that they felt it their duty to acquaint the Báb with the character of her startling and unprecedented behaviour. They strove to tarnish the purity of her name. To their accusations the Báb replied: “What am I to say regarding her whom the Tongue of Power and Glory has named Ṭáhirih [the Pure One]?” These words proved sufficient to silence those who had endeavoured to undermine her position. From that time onwards she was designated by the believers as Ṭáhirih.

Fascimile of Ṭáhirih’s Handwriting Fascimile of Ṭáhirih’s Handwriting

Explanation of the term Bálá-Sarí

A word should now be said in explanation of the term Bálá-Sarí. Shaykh Aḥmad and Siyyid Káẓim, as well as their followers, when visiting the shrine of the Imám Ḥusayn in Karbilá, invariably occupied, as a mark of reverence, the lower end of the sepulchre. They never advanced beyond it, whereas other worshippers, the Bálá-Sarí, recited their prayers in the upper section of that shrine. The Shaykhís, believing, as they did, that “every true believer lives both in this world and in the next,” felt it unseemly and improper to step beyond the limits of the lower sections of the shrine of the Imám Ḥusayn, who in their eyes was the very incarnation of the most perfect believer.

Dismissal of Mullá Ḥusayn

Mullá Ḥusayn, who anticipated being the chosen companion of the Báb during His pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, was, as soon as the latter decided to depart from Shíráz, summoned to the presence of his Master, who gave him the following instructions: “The days of our companionship are approaching their end. My Covenant with you is now accomplished. Gird up the loins of endeavour, and arise to diffuse My Cause. Be not dismayed at the sight of the degeneracy and perversity of this generation, for the Lord of the Covenant shall assuredly assist you. Verily, He shall surround you with His loving protection, and shall lead you from victory to victory. Even as the cloud that rains its bounty upon the earth, traverse the land from end to end, and shower upon its people the blessings which the Almighty, in His mercy, has deigned to confer upon you. Forbear with the ‘ulamás, and resign yourself to the will of God. Raise the cry: ‘Awake, awake, for, lo! the Gate of God is open, and the morning Light is shedding its radiance upon all mankind! The promised One is made manifest; prepare the way for Him, O people of the earth! Deprive not yourselves of its redeeming grace, nor close your eyes to its effulgent glory.’ Those whom you find receptive to your call, share with them the epistles and tablets We have revealed for you, that, perchance, these wondrous words may cause them to turn away from the slough of heedlessness, and soar into the realm of the Divine presence. In this pilgrimage upon which We are soon to embark, We have chosen Quddús as Our companion. We have left you behind to face the onslaught of a fierce and relentless enemy. Rest assured, however, that a bounty unspeakably glorious shall be conferred upon you. Follow the course of your journey towards the north, and visit on your way Iṣfahán, Káshán, Qum, and Ṭihrán. Beseech almighty Providence that He may graciously enable you to attain, in that capital, the seat of true sovereignty, and to enter the mansion of the Beloved. A secret lies hidden in that city. When made manifest, it shall turn the earth into paradise. My hope is that you may partake of its grace and recognise its splendour. From Ṭihrán proceed to Khurásán, and there proclaim anew the Call. From thence return to Najaf and Karbilá, and there await the summons of your Lord. Be assured that the high mission for which you have been created will, in its entirety, be accomplished by you. Until you have consummated your work, if all the darts of an unbelieving world be directed against you, they will be powerless to hurt a single hair of your head. All things are imprisoned within His mighty grasp. He, verily, is the Almighty, the All-Subduing.”

Site of Kázirán Gate, Shíráz Site of Kázirán Gate, Shíráz

The Market-Street of Vakíl, Shíráz The Market-Street of Vakíl, Shíráz

Departure of Mullá ‘Alíy-i-Basṭámí from Shíráz

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

Story of ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb

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

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

“I continued my search until I reached them. Seized with a savage fury, I inflicted upon Mullá ‘Alí unspeakable injuries. To the strokes that fell heavily upon him, he, with extraordinary serenity, returned this answer: ‘Stay your hand, O ‘Abdu’l-Majíd, for the eye of God is observing you. I take Him as my witness, that I am in no wise responsible for the conduct of your son. I mind not the tortures you inflict upon me, for I stand prepared for the most grievous afflictions in the path I have chosen to follow. Your injuries, compared to what is destined to befall me in future, are as a drop compared to the ocean. Verily, I say, you shall survive me, and will come to recognise my innocence. Great will then be your remorse, and deep your sorrow.’ Scorning his remarks, and heedless of his appeal, I continued to beat him until I was exhausted. Silently and heroically he endured this most undeserved chastisement at my hands. Finally, I ordered my son to follow me, and left Mullá ‘Alí to himself. On our way back to Shíráz, my son related to me the dream he had dreamt. A feeling of profound regret gradually seized me. The blamelessness of Mullá ‘Alí was vindicated in my eyes, and the memory of my cruelty to him continued long to oppress my soul. Its bitterness lingered in my heart until the time when I felt obliged to transfer my residence from Shíráz to Baghdád. From Baghdád I moved to Káẓimayn, where ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb established his business. A strange mystery brooded over his youthful face. He seemed to be concealing from me a secret which appeared to have transformed his life. And when, in the year 1267 A.H., Bahá’u’lláh journeyed to ‘Iráq and visited Káẓimayn, ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb fell immediately under the spell of His charm and pledged his undying devotion to Him. A few years later, when my son had suffered martyrdom in Ṭihrán and Bahá’u’lláh had been exiled to Baghdád, He, with infinite loving-kindness and mercy, awakened me from the sleep of heedlessness, and Himself taught me the message of the New Day, washing away with the waters of Divine forgiveness the stains of that cruel act.”

Sufferings of Mullá ‘Alíy-i-Basṭámí

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

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

The Báb’s farewell address to the Letters of the Living

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

With such words the Báb quickened the faith of His disciples and launched them upon their mission. To each He assigned his own native province as the field of his labours. He directed them each and all to refrain from specific references to His own name and person. He instructed them to raise the call that the Gate to the Promised One has been opened, that His proof is irrefutable, and that His testimony is complete. He bade them declare that whoever believes in Him has believed in all the prophets of God, and that whoever denies Him has denied all His saints and His chosen ones. With these instructions He dismissed them from His presence and committed them to the care of God. Of these Letters of the Living, whom He thus addressed, there remained with Him in Shíráz Mullá Ḥusayn, the first of these Letters, and Quddús, the last. The rest, fourteen in number, set out, at the hour of dawn, from Shíráz, each resolved to carry out, in its entirety, the task with which he had been entrusted.

The Báb’s parting words to Mullá Ḥusayn

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



The Madrisih of Ním-Ávard, Iṣfahán The Madrisih of Ním-Ávard, Iṣfahán

Visit of Mullá Ḥusayn to Iṣfahán

a. His relations with the disciples of Ḥájí Siyyid Muḥammad-Báqir

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

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

This severe rebuke, pronounced by Ḥájí Kalbásí, greatly disconcerted the disciples of Ḥájí Siyyid Asadu’lláh. In their dismay they appealed to Manúchihr Khán, the Mu‘tamidu’d-Dawlih, the governor of the city. That wise and judicious ruler refused to interfere in these matters, which he said fell exclusively within the jurisdiction of the ‘ulamás. He warned them to abstain from mischief and to cease disturbing the peace and tranquillity of the messenger. His trenchant words shattered the hopes of the mischief-makers. Mullá Ḥusayn was thereby relieved from the machinations of his enemies, and, for a time, pursued untrammelled the course of his labours.

b. Story of the Sifter of Wheat

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

c. Conversion of Mullá Ṣádiq-i-Khurásání

Among the siyyids of Iṣfahán, a few, such as Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alíy-i-Nahrí, whose daughter was subsequently joined in wedlock with the Most Great Branch, Mírzá Hádí, the brother of Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí, and Mírzá Muḥammad-Riḍáy-i-Pá-Qal‘iyí, recognised the truth of the Cause. Mullá Ṣádiq-i-Khurásání, formerly known as Muqaddas, and surnamed by Bahá’u’lláh, Ismu’lláhu’l-Asdaq, who, according to the instructions of Siyyid Káẓim, had during the last five years been residing in Iṣfahán and had been preparing the way for the advent of the new Revelation, was also among the first believers who identified themselves with the Message proclaimed by the Báb. As soon as he learned of the arrival of Mullá Ḥusayn in Iṣfahán, he hastened to meet him. He gives the following account of his first interview, which took place at night in the home of Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alíy-i-Nahrí: “I asked Mullá Ḥusayn to divulge the name of Him who claimed to be the promised Manifestation. He replied: ‘To enquire about that name and to divulge it are alike forbidden.’ ‘Would it, then, be possible,’ I asked, ‘for me, even as the Letters of the Living, to seek independently the grace of the All-Merciful and, through prayer, to discover His identity?’ ‘The door of His grace,’ he replied, ‘is never closed before the face of him who seeks to find Him.’ I immediately retired from his presence, and requested his host to allow me the privacy of a room in his house where, alone and undisturbed, I could commune with God. In the midst of my contemplation, I suddenly remembered the face of a Youth whom I had often observed while in Karbilá, standing in an attitude of prayer, with His face bathed in tears at the entrance of the shrine of the Imám Ḥusayn. That same countenance now reappeared before my eyes. In my vision I seemed to behold that same face, those same features, expressive of such joy as I could never describe. He smiled as He gazed at me. I went towards Him, ready to throw myself at His feet. I was bending towards the ground, when, lo! that radiant figure vanished from before me. Overpowered with joy and gladness, I ran out to meet Mullá Ḥusayn, who with transport received me and assured me that I had, at last, attained the object of my desire. He bade me, however, repress my feelings. ‘Declare not your vision to anyone,’ he urged me; ‘the time for it has not yet arrived. You have reaped the fruit of your patient waiting in Iṣfahán. You should now proceed to Kirmán, and there acquaint Ḥájí Mírzá Karím Khán with this Message. From that place you should travel to Shíráz and endeavour to rouse the people of that city from their heedlessness. I hope to join you in Shíráz and share with you the blessings of a joyous reunion with our Beloved.’”

His stay in Káshán and Qum

From Iṣfahán, Mullá Ḥusayn proceeded to Káshán. The first to be enrolled in that city among the company of the faithful was a certain Ḥájí Mírzá Jání, surnamed Par-Pá, who was a merchant of note. Among the friends of Mullá Ḥusayn was a well-known divine, Siyyid ‘Abdu’l-Báqí, a resident of Káshán and a member of the shaykhí community. Although intimately associated with Mullá Ḥusayn during his stay in Najaf and Karbilá, the Siyyid felt unable to sacrifice rank and leadership for the Message which his friend had brought him.

Arriving in Qum, Mullá Ḥusayn found its people utterly unprepared to heed his call. The seeds he sowed among them did not germinate until the time when Bahá’u’lláh was exiled to Baghdád. In those days Ḥájí Mírzá Músá, a native of Qum, embraced the Faith, journeyed to Baghdád, and there met Bahá’u’lláh. He eventually quaffed the cup of martyrdom in His path.

Views of Ṭihrán Views of Ṭihrán

His experiences in Ṭihrán

a. His relations with Ḥájí Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Khurásání

From Qum, Mullá Ḥusayn proceeded directly to Ṭihrán. He lived, during his stay in the capital, in one of the rooms which belonged to the madrisih of Mírzá Ṣáliḥ, better known as the madrisih of Páy-i-Minár. Ḥájí Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Khurásání, the leader of the shaykhí community of Ṭihrán, who acted as an instructor in that institution, was approached by Mullá Ḥusayn but failed to respond to his invitation to accept the Message. “We had cherished the hope,” he said to Mullá Ḥusayn, “that after the death of Siyyid Káẓim you would strive to promote the best interests of the shaykhí community and would deliver it from the obscurity into which it has sunk. You seem, however, to have betrayed its cause. You have shattered our fondest expectations. If you persist in disseminating these subversive doctrines, you will eventually extinguish the remnants of the shaykhís in this city.” Mullá Ḥusayn assured him that he had no intention of prolonging his stay in Ṭihrán, that his aim was in no wise to abase or suppress the teachings inculcated by Shaykh Aḥmad and Siyyid Káẓim.

Áqáy-i-Kalím, Brother of Bahá’u’lláh Áqáy-i-Kalím, Brother of Bahá’u’lláh

b. His meeting with Mullá Muḥammad-i-Núrí, and his message to Bahá’u’lláh

During his stay in Ṭihrán, Mullá Ḥusayn each day would leave his room early in the morning and would return to it only an hour after sunset. Upon his return he would quietly and alone re-enter his room, close the door behind him, and remain in the privacy of his cell until the next day. Mírzá Músá, Áqáy-i-Kalím, the brother of Bahá’u’lláh, recounted to me the following: “I have heard Mullá Muḥammad-i-Mu‘allim, a native of Núr, in the province of Mázindarán, who was a fervent admirer of both Shaykh Aḥmad and Siyyid Káẓim, relate this story: ‘I was in those days recognised as one of the favoured disciples of Ḥájí Mírzá Muḥammad, and lived in the same school in which he taught. My room adjoined his room, and we were closely associated together. On the day that he was engaged in discussion with Mullá Ḥusayn, I overheard their conversation from beginning to end, and was deeply affected by the ardour, the fluency, and learning of that youthful stranger. I was surprised at the evasive answers, the arrogance, and contemptuous behaviour of Ḥájí Mírzá Muḥammad. That day I felt strongly attracted by the charm of that youth, and deeply resented the unseemly conduct of my teacher towards him. I concealed my feelings, however, and pretended to ignore his discussions with Mullá Ḥusayn. I was seized with a passionate desire to meet the latter, and ventured, at the hour of midnight, to visit him. He did not expect me, but I knocked at his door, and found him awake seated beside his lamp. He received me affectionately, and spoke to me with extreme courtesy and tenderness. I unburdened my heart to him, and as I was addressing him, tears, which I could not repress, flowed from my eyes. “I can now see,” he said, “the reason why I have chosen to dwell in this place. Your teacher has contemptuously rejected this Message and despised its Author. My hope is that his pupil may, unlike his master, recognise its truth. What is your name, and which city is your home?” “My name,” I replied, “is Mullá Muḥammad, and my surname Mu‘allim. My home is Núr, in the province of Mázindarán.” “Tell me,” further enquired Mullá Ḥusayn, “is there to-day among the family of the late Mírzá Buzurg-i-Núrí, who was so renowned for his character, his charm, and artistic and intellectual attainments, anyone who has proved himself capable of maintaining the high traditions of that illustrious house?” “Yea,” I replied, “among his sons now living, one has distinguished Himself by the very traits which characterised His father. By His virtuous life, His high attainments, His loving-kindness and liberality, He has proved Himself a noble descendant of a noble father.” “What is His occupation?” he asked me. “He cheers the disconsolate and feeds the hungry,” I replied. “What of His rank and position?” “He has none,” I said, “apart from befriending the poor and the stranger.” “What is His name?” “Ḥusayn-‘Alí.” “In which of the scripts of His father does He excel?” “His favourite script is shikastih-nasta‘líq.” “How does He spend His time?” “He roams the woods and delights in the beauties of the countryside.” “What is His age?” “Eight and twenty.” The eagerness with which Mullá Ḥusayn questioned me, and the sense of delight with which he welcomed every particular I gave him, greatly surprised me. Turning to me, with his face beaming with satisfaction and joy, he once more enquired: “I presume you often meet Him?” “I frequently visit His home,” I replied. “Will you,” he said, “deliver into His hands a trust from me?” “Most assuredly,” was my reply. He then gave me a scroll wrapped in a piece of cloth, and requested me to hand it to Him the next day at the hour of dawn. “Should He deign to answer me,” he added, “will you be kind enough to acquaint me with His reply?” I received the scroll from him and, at break of day, arose to carry out his desire.

House of Bahá’u’lláh

Views of the House of Bahá’u’lláh Views of the House of Bahá’u’lláh

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

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

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



His reference to Mírzá Buzurg

THE first journey Bahá’u’lláh undertook for the purpose of promoting the Revelation announced by the Báb was to His ancestral home in Núr, in the province of Mázindarán. He set out for the village of Tákur, the personal estate of His father, where He owned a vast mansion, royally furnished and superbly situated. It was my privilege to hear Bahá’u’lláh Himself, one day, recount the following: “The late Vazír, My father, enjoyed a most enviable position among his countrymen. His vast wealth, his noble ancestry, his artistic attainments, his unrivalled prestige and exalted rank made him the object of the admiration of all who knew him. For a period of over twenty years, no one among the wide circle of his family and kindred, which extended over Núr and Ṭihrán, suffered distress, injury, or illness. They enjoyed, during a long and uninterrupted period, rich and manifold blessings. Quite suddenly, however, this prosperity and glory gave way to a series of calamities which severely shook the foundations of his material prosperity. The first loss he suffered was occasioned by a great flood which, rising in the mountains of Mázindarán, swept with great violence over the village of Tákur, and utterly destroyed half the mansion of the Vazír, situated above the fortress of that village. The best part of that house, which had been known for the solidity of its foundations, was utterly wiped away by the fury of the roaring torrent. Its precious articles of furniture were destroyed, and its elaborate ornamentation irretrievably ruined. This was shortly followed by the loss of various State positions which the Vazír occupied, and by the repeated assaults directed against him by his envious adversaries. Despite this sudden change of fortune, the Vazír maintained his dignity and calm, and continued, within the restricted limits of his means, his acts of benevolence and charity. He continued to exercise towards his faithless associates that same courtesy and kindness that had characterised his dealings with his fellow-men. With splendid fortitude he grappled, until the last hour of his life, with the adversities that weighed so heavily upon him.”

Approach to the House of Bahá’u’lláh in Tákur Approach to,

Ruins of House of Bahá’u’lláh in Tákur And Ruins of, Bahá’u’lláh’s Original Home in Tákur Mázindarán

His visit to Núr prior to Mullá Ḥusayn’s arrival in Ṭihrán

a. His meeting with Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqíy-i-Núrí

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

b. The two dreams of Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqíy-i-Núrí

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

“In my second dream,” the mujtahid continued, “I found myself in a place where I beheld around me a number of coffers, each of which, it was stated, belonged to Bahá’u’lláh. As I opened them, I found them to be filled with books. Every word and letter recorded in these books was set with the most exquisite jewels. Their radiance dazzled me. I was so overpowered by their brilliance that I awoke suddenly from my dream.”

Inscription Above Entrance Door of His House in Tákur Inscription Placed by the Vazír, Mírzá Buzurg, Above Entrance Door of His House in Tákur

His visit to Núr after Mullá Ḥusayn’s arrival in Ṭihrán

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

a. His relations with His uncle ‘Azíz

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

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

Exterior of the Room Occupied by Bahá’u’lláh in Tákur, Mázindarán Exterior of the Room Occupied by Bahá’u’lláh in Tákur, Mázindarán

Interior of Bahá’u’lláh’s Room Kept in its Original Condition Interior of Bahá’u’lláh’s Room Kept in its Original Condition

Exterior of the Room Occupied by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Tákur, Mázindarán Exterior of the Room Occupied by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Tákur, Mázindarán

Interior of the Room Occupied by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Interior of the Room Occupied by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

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

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

b. His meeting with Mullá Muḥammad

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

c. His conversation with a dervish

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

d. The effects of Bahá’u’lláh’s visit to Núr

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

The Vazír’s dream of Bahá’u’lláh

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

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

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

The relations of Bahá’u’lláh with Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí

Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí, the Grand Vazír of Muḥammad Sháh, though completely alienated from Bahá’u’lláh’s father, showed his son every mark of consideration and favour. So great was the esteem which the Ḥájí professed for Him, that Mírzá Áqá Khán-i-Núrí, the I‘timádu’d-Dawlih, who afterwards succeeded Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí, felt envious. He resented the superiority which Bahá’u’lláh, as a mere youth, was accorded over him. The seeds of jealousy were, from that time, implanted in his breast. Though still a youth, and while his father is yet alive, he thought, he is given precedence in the presence of the Grand Vazír. What will, I wonder, happen to me when this young man shall have succeeded his father?

After the death of the Vazír, Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí continued to show the utmost consideration to Bahá’u’lláh. He would visit Him in His home, and would address Him as though He were his own son. The sincerity of his devotion, however, was very soon put to the test. One day, as he was passing through the village of Qúch-Ḥiṣár, which belonged to Bahá’u’lláh, he was so impressed by the charm and beauty of that place and the abundance of its water that he conceived the idea of becoming its owner. Bahá’u’lláh, whom he had summoned to effect the immediate purchase of that village, observed: “Had this property been exclusively mine own, I would willingly have complied with your desire. This transitory life, with all its sordid possessions, is worthy of no attachment in my eyes, how much less this small and insignificant estate. As a number of other people, both rich and poor, some of full age and some still minors, share with me the ownership of this property, I would request you to refer this matter to them, and to seek their consent.” Unsatisfied with this reply, Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí sought, through fraudulent means, to achieve his purpose. So soon as Bahá’u’lláh was informed of his evil designs, He, with the consent of all concerned, immediately transferred the title of the property to the name of the sister of Muḥammad Sháh, who had already repeatedly expressed her desire to become its owner. The Ḥájí, furious at this transaction, ordered that the estate should be forcibly seized, claiming that he already had purchased it from its original possessor. The representatives of Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí were severely rebuked by the agents of the sister of the Sháh, and were requested to inform their master of the determination of that lady to assert her rights. The Ḥájí referred the case to Muḥammad Sháh, and complained of the unjust treatment to which he had been subjected. That very night, the Sháh’s sister had acquainted him with the nature of the transaction. “Many a time,” she said to her brother, “your Imperial Majesty has graciously signified your desire that I should dispose of the jewels with which I am wont to adorn myself in your presence, and with the proceeds purchase some property. I have at last succeeded in fulfilling your desire. Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí, however, is now fully determined to seize it forcibly from me.” The Sháh reassured his sister, and commanded the Ḥájí to forgo his claim. The latter, in his despair, summoned Bahá’u’lláh to his presence and, by every artifice, strove to discredit His name. To the charges he brought against Him, Bahá’u’lláh vigorously replied, and succeeded in establishing His innocence. In his impotent rage, the Grand Vazír exclaimed: “What is the purpose of all this feasting and banqueting in which you seem to delight? I, who am the Prime Minister of the Sháhinsháh of Persia, never receive the number and variety of guests that crowd around your table every night. Why all this extravagance and vanity? You surely must be meditating a plot against me.” “Gracious God!” Bahá’u’lláh replied. “Is the man who, out of the abundance of his heart, shares his bread with his fellow-men, to be accused of harbouring criminal intentions?” Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí was utterly confounded. He dared no reply. Though supported by the combined ecclesiastical and civil powers of Persia, he eventually found himself, in every contest he ventured against Bahá’u’lláh, completely defeated.

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



The instructions of the Báb to the Letters of the Living

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

To Mullá Ḥusayn, more particularly, the Báb gave definite injunctions to send Him a written report on the nature and progress of his activities in Iṣfahán, in Ṭihrán, and in Khurásán. He urged him to inform Him of those who accepted and submitted to the Faith, as well as of those who rejected and repudiated its truth. “Not until I receive your letter from Khurásán,” He said, “shall I be ready to set out from this city on My pilgrimage to Ḥijáz.”

Mosque of Gawhar-<u>Sh</u>ád In Ma<u>sh</u>had

Pulpit Where Mulla Ḥusayn Preached Views of the Mosque of Gawhar-Shád In Mashhad Showing Pulpit Where Mullá Ḥusayn Preached

The first believers of Khurásán

Mullá Ḥusayn, refreshed and fortified by the experience of his intercourse with Bahá’u’lláh, set out on his journey to Khurásán. During his visit to that province, he exhibited in an astonishing manner the effects of that regenerating power with which the parting words of the Báb had invested him. The first to embrace the Faith in Khurásán was Mírzá Aḥmad-i-Azghandí, the most learned, the wisest, and the most eminent among the ‘ulamás of that province. In whatever gathering he appeared, no matter how great the number or representative the character of the divines who were present, he alone was invariably the chief speaker. The high traits of his character, as well as his extreme devoutness, had ennobled the reputation which he had already acquired through his erudition, his ability and wisdom. The next to embrace the Faith among the shaykhís of Khurásán was Mullá Aḥmad-i-Mu‘allim, who, while in Karbilá, had been the instructor of the children of Siyyid Káẓim. Next to him came Mullá Shaykh ‘Alí, whom the Báb surnamed ‘Aẓím, and then Mullá Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Furúghí, whose learning was unsurpassed except by that of Mírzá Aḥmad. No one apart from these outstanding figures among the ecclesiastical leaders of Khurásán exercised sufficient authority or possessed the necessary knowledge to challenge the arguments of Mullá Ḥusayn.

Mírzá Muḥammad Báqir-i-Qá’iní, who, for the remaining years of his life, had established his residence in Mashhad, was the next to embrace the Message. The love of the Báb inflamed his soul with such a consuming passion, that no one could resist its force or could belittle its influence. His fearlessness, his unsparing energy, his unswerving loyalty, and the integrity of his life, all combined to make him the terror of his enemies and a source of inspiration to his friends. He placed his home at the disposal of Mullá Ḥusayn, arranged for separate interviews between him and the ‘ulamás of Mashhad, and continued to endeavour, to the utmost of his power, to remove every obstacle that might impede the progress of the Faith. He was untiring in his efforts, undeviating in his purpose, and inexhaustible in his energy. He continued to labour indefatigably for his beloved Cause until the last hour of his life, when he fell a martyr at the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí. In his last days he was bidden by Quddús, after the tragic death of Mullá Ḥusayn, to assume the leadership of the heroic defenders of that fort. He acquitted himself gloriously of his task. His home, situated in Bálá-Khíyábán, in the city of Mashhad, is up to the present time known by the name of Bábíyyih. Whoever enters it can never escape the accusation of being a Bábí. May his soul rest in peace!

Mullá Ḥusayn’s letter to the Báb

Mullá Ḥusayn, as soon as he had won to the Cause such able and devoted supporters, decided to address a written report concerning his activities to the Báb. In his communication he referred at length to his sojourn in Iṣfahán and Káshán, described the account of his experience with Bahá’u’lláh, referred to the departure of the latter for Mázindarán, related the events of Núr, and informed Him of the success which had attended his own efforts in Khurásán. In it he enclosed a list of the names of those who had responded to his call, and of whose steadfastness and sincerity he was assured. He sent his letter by way of Yazd, through the trustworthy partners of the Báb’s maternal uncle who were at that time residing in Ṭabas. That letter reached the Báb on the night preceding the twenty-seventh day of Ramaḍán, a night held in great reverence by all the sects of Islám and regarded by many as rivalling in sacredness the Laylatu’l-Qadr itself, the night which, in the words of the Qur’án, “excelleth a thousand months.” The only companion of the Báb, when that letter reached Him that night, was Quddús, with whom He shared a number of its passages.

View of the “Bábíyyih” in Ma<u>sh</u>had View of the “Bábíyyih” in Mashhad

I have heard Mírzá Aḥmad relate the following: “The Báb’s maternal uncle himself described to me the circumstances attending the receipt of Mullá Ḥusayn’s letter by the Báb: ‘That night I saw such evidences of joy and gladness on the faces of the Báb and of Quddús as I am unable to describe. I often heard the Báb, in those days, exultingly repeat the words, “How marvellous, how exceedingly marvellous, is that which has occurred between the months of Jamádí and Rajab!” As He was reading the communication addressed to Him by Mullá Ḥusayn, He turned to Quddús and, showing him certain passages of that letter, explained the reason for His joyous expressions of surprise. I, for my part, remained completely unaware of the nature of that explanation.’”

Mírzá Aḥmad, upon whom the account of this incident had produced a profound impression, was determined to fathom its mystery. “Not until I met Mullá Ḥusayn in Shíráz,” he told me, “was I able to satisfy my curiosity. When I repeated to him the account described to me by the Báb’s uncle, he smiled and said how well he remembered that between the months of Jamádí and Rajab he chanced to be in Ṭihrán. He gave no further explanation, and contented himself with this brief remark. This was sufficient, however, to convince me that in the city of Ṭihrán there lay hidden a Mystery which, when revealed to the world, would bring unspeakable joy to the hearts of both the Báb and Quddús.”

View of the “Bábíyyih” in Ma<u>sh</u>had View of the “Bábíyyih” in Mashhad

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

Drawing of Mecca Drawing of Mecca



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

Incident related by Ḥájí Abu’l-Ḥasan-i-Shírází

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

Reference to Journey in the Persian Bayán

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

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

Arrival at Jaddih, and an incident on the way to Mecca

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

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

The circumambulation of the Ka‘bih by the Báb

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

Outer Coat Worn by the Báb on Pilgrimage Dress Worn under the Jubbih, Worn
by the Báb. (Outer Coat)

Cap Worn by the Báb Cap Around Which the Turban
Was Wound. Worn by the Báb

His declaration to Mírzá Muḥíṭ-i-Kirmání

Although the month of Dhi’l-Ḥijjih, the month of pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, coincided in that year with the first month of the winter season, yet so intense was the heat in that region that the pilgrims who made the circuit of the sacred shrine were unable to perform that rite in their usual garments. Draped in a light, loose-fitting tunic, they joined in the celebration of the festival. The Báb, however, refused, as a mark of deference, to discard either His turban or cloak. Dressed in His usual attire, He, with the utmost dignity and calm, and with extreme simplicity and reverence, compassed the Ka‘bih and performed all the prescribed rites of worship.

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

Cloth Worn by the Báb Cloth Worn by the Báb when
Circumambulating the Ka‘bih

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

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

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

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

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

Drawing of Medina Drawing of Medina

His message to the Sherif of Mecca, and the account related by Ḥájí Níyáz-i-Baghdádí

No sooner had the Báb performed the last of the observances in connection with His pilgrimage to Mecca than He addressed an epistle to the Sherif of that holy city, wherein He set forth, in clear and unmistakable terms, the distinguishing features of His mission, and called upon him to arise and embrace His Cause. This epistle, together with selections from His other writings, He delivered to Quddús, and instructed him to present them to the Sherif. The latter, however, too absorbed in his own material pursuits to incline his ear to the words which had been addressed to him by the Báb, failed to respond to the call of the Divine Message. Ḥájí Níyáz-i-Baghdádí has been heard to relate the following: “In the year 1267 A.H., I undertook a pilgrimage to that holy city, where I was privileged to meet the Sherif. In the course of his conversation with me, he said: ‘I recollect that in the year ’60, during the season of pilgrimage, a youth came to visit me. He presented to me a sealed book which I readily accepted but was too much occupied at that time to read. A few days later I met again that same youth, who asked me whether I had any reply to make to his offer. Pressure of work had again detained me from considering the contents of that book. I was therefore unable to give him a satisfactory reply. When the season of pilgrimage was over, one day, as I was sorting out my letters, my eyes fell accidentally upon that book. I opened it and found, in its introductory pages, a moving and exquisitely written homily which was followed by verses the tone and language of which bore a striking resemblance to the Qur’án. All that I gathered from the perusal of the book was that among the people of Persia a man of the seed of Fáṭimih and descendant of the family of Háshim, had raised a new call, and was announcing to all people the appearance of the promised Qá’im. I remained, however, ignorant of the name of the author of that book, nor was I informed of the circumstances attending that call.’ ‘A great commotion,’ I remarked, ‘has indeed seized that land during the last few years. A Youth, a descendant of the Prophet and a merchant by profession, has claimed that His utterance was the Voice of Divine inspiration. He has publicly asserted that, within the space of a few days, there could stream from His tongue verses of such number and excellence as would surpass in volume and beauty the Qur’án itself — a work which it took Muḥammad no less than twenty-three years to reveal. A multitude of people, both high and low, civil and ecclesiastical, among the inhabitants of Persia, have rallied round His standard and have willingly sacrificed themselves in His path. That Youth has, during the past year, in the last days of the month of Sha‘bán, suffered martyrdom in Tabríz, in the province of Ádhirbáyján. They who persecuted Him sought by this means to extinguish the light which He kindled in that land. Since His martyrdom, however, His influence has pervaded all classes of people.’ The Sherif, who was listening attentively, expressed his indignation at the behaviour of those who had persecuted the Báb. ‘The malediction of God be upon these evil people,’ he exclaimed, ‘a people who, in days past, treated in the same manner our holy and illustrious ancestors!’ With these words the Sherif concluded his conversation with me.”

His visit to Medina

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



The Báb’s return to Búshihr and farewell to Quddús

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

Visit of Quddús to the Báb’s maternal uncle in Shíráz

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

Views of the Masjid-i-Naw Views of the Masjid-i-Naw

Meeting of Quddús with Mullá Ṣádiq-i-Khurásání

The next person whom Quddús met in Shíráz was Ismu’lláhu’l-Asdaq, Mullá Ṣádiq-i-Khurásání, to whom he entrusted the copy of the Khaṣá’il-i-Sab‘ih, and stressed the necessity of putting into effect immediately all its provisions. Among its precepts was the emphatic injunction of the Báb to every loyal believer to add the following words to the traditional formula of the adhán: “I bear witness that He whose name is ‘Alí-Qabl-i-Muḥammad is the servant of the Baqíyyatu’lláh.” Mullá Ṣádiq, who in those days had been extolling from the pulpit-top to large audiences the virtues of the imáms of the Faith, was so enraptured by the theme and language of that treatise that he unhesitatingly resolved to carry out all the observances it ordained. Driven by the impelling force inherent in that Tablet, he, one day as he was leading his congregation in prayer in the Masjid-i-Naw, suddenly proclaimed, as he was sounding the adhán, the additional words prescribed by the Báb. The multitude that heard him was astounded by his cry. Dismay and consternation seized the entire congregation. The distinguished divines, who occupied the front seats and who were greatly revered for their pious orthodoxy, raised a clamour, loudly protesting: “Woe betide us, the guardians and protectors of the Faith of God! Behold, this man has hoisted the standard of heresy. Down with this infamous traitor! He has spoken blasphemy. Arrest him, for he is a disgrace to our Faith.” “Who,” they angrily exclaimed, “dared authorised such grave departure from the established precepts of Islám? Who has presumed to arrogate to himself this supreme prerogative?”

Afflictions which befell Quddús and Mullá Ṣádiq

The populace re-echoed the protestations of these divines, and arose to reinforce their clamour. The whole city had been aroused, and public order was, as a result, seriously threatened. The governor of the province of Fárs, Ḥusayn Khán-i-Íravání, surnamed Ájúdán-Báshí, and generally designated in those days as Ṣáḥib-Ikhtíyár, found it necessary to intervene and to enquire into the cause of this sudden commotion. He was informed that a disciple of a young man named Siyyid-i-Báb, who had just returned from His pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina and was now living in Búshihr, had arrived in Shíráz and was propagating the teachings of his Master. “This disciple,” Ḥusayn Khán was further informed, “claims that his teacher is the author of a new revelation and is the revealer of a book which he asserts is divinely inspired. Mullá Ṣádiq-i-Khurásání has embraced that faith, and is fearlessly summoning the multitude to the acceptance of that message. He declares its recognition to be the first obligation of every loyal and pious follower of shí‘ah Islám.”

a. Interrogation by Ḥusayn Khán of Mullá Ṣádiq

Ḥusayn Khán ordered the arrest of both Quddús and Mullá Ṣádiq. The police authorities, to whom they were delivered, were instructed to bring them handcuffed into the presence of the governor. The police also delivered into the hands of Ḥusayn Khán the copy of the Qayyúmu’l-Asmá’, which they had seized from Mullá Ṣádiq while he was reading aloud its passages to an excited congregation. Quddús, owing to his youthful appearance and unconventional dress, was at first ignored by Ḥusayn Khán, who preferred to direct his remarks to his more dignified and elderly companion. “Tell me,” angrily asked the governor, as he turned to Mullá Ṣádiq, “if you are aware of the opening passage of the Qayyúmu’l-Asmá’ wherein the Siyyid-i-Báb addresses the rulers and kings of the earth in these terms: ‘Divest yourselves of the robe of sovereignty, for He who is the King in truth, hath been made manifest! The Kingdom is God’s, the Most Exalted. Thus hath the Pen of the Most High decreed!’ If this be true, it must necessarily apply to my sovereign, Muḥammad Sháh, of the Qájár dynasty, whom I represent as the chief magistrate of this province. Must Muḥammad Sháh, according to this behest, lay down his crown and abandon his sovereignty? Must I, too, abdicate my power and relinquish my position?” Mullá Ṣádiq unhesitatingly replied: “When once the truth of the Revelation announced by the Author of these words shall have been definitely established, the truth of whatsoever has fallen from His lips will likewise be vindicated. If these words be the Word of God, the abdication of Muḥammad Sháh and his like can matter but little. It can in no wise turn aside the Divine purpose, nor alter the sovereignty of the almighty and eternal King.”

That cruel and impious ruler was sorely displeased with such an answer. He reviled and cursed him, ordered his attendants to strip him of his garments and to scourge him with a thousand lashes. He then commanded that the beards of both Quddús and Mullá Ṣádiq should be burned, their noses be pierced, that through this incision a cord should be passed, and with this halter they should be led through the streets of the city. “It will be an object lesson to the people of Shíráz,” Ḥusayn Khán declared, “who will know what the penalty of heresy will be.” Mullá Ṣádiq, calm and self-possessed and with eyes upraised to heaven, was heard reciting this prayer: “O Lord, our God! We have indeed heard the voice of One that called. He called us to the Faith — ‘Believe ye on the Lord your God!’ — and we have believed. O God, our God! Forgive us, then, our sins, and hide away from us our evil deeds, and cause us to die with the righteous.” With magnificent fortitude both resigned themselves to their fate. Those who had been instructed to inflict this savage punishment performed their task with alacrity and vigour. None intervened in behalf of these sufferers, none was inclined to plead their cause. Soon after this, they were both expelled from Shíráz. Before their expulsion, they were warned that if they ever attempted to return to this city, they would both be crucified. By their sufferings they earned the immortal distinction of having been the first to be persecuted on Persian soil for the sake of their Faith. Mullá ‘Alíy-i-Basṭámí, though the first to fall a victim to the relentless hate of the enemy, underwent his persecution in ‘Iráq, which lay beyond the confines of Persia. Nor did his sufferings, intense as they were, compare with the hideousness and the barbaric cruelty which characterised the torture inflicted upon Quddús and Mullá Ṣádiq.

b. Account of an eye-witness regarding the persecution

An eye-witness of this revolting episode, an unbeliever residing in Shíráz, related to me the following: “I was present when Mullá Ṣádiq was being scourged. I watched his persecutors each in turn apply the lash to his bleeding shoulders, and continue the strokes until he became exhausted. No one believed that Mullá Ṣádiq, so advanced in age and so frail in body, could possibly survive fifty such savage strokes. We marvelled at his fortitude when we found that, although the number of the strokes of the scourge he had received had already exceeded nine hundred, his face still retained its original serenity and calm. A smile was upon his face, as he held his hand before his mouth. He seemed utterly indifferent to the blows that were being showered upon him. When he was being expelled from the city, I succeeded in approaching him, and asked him why he held his hand before his mouth. I expressed surprise at the smile upon his countenance. He emphatically replied: ‘The first seven strokes were severely painful; to the rest I seemed to have grown indifferent. I was wondering whether the strokes that followed were being actually applied to my own body. A feeling of joyous exultation had invaded my soul. I was trying to repress my feelings and to restrain my laughter. I can now realise how the almighty Deliverer is able, in the twinkling of an eye, to turn pain into ease, and sorrow into gladness. Immensely exalted is His power above and beyond the idle fancy of His mortal creatures.’” Mullá Ṣádiq, whom I met years after, confirmed every detail of this moving episode.

Return of the Báb to Shíráz

a. Incident related by leader of the Báb’s escort

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

b. The Báb’s meeting with Ḥusayn Khán

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

Views of the Masjid-i-Vakíl, Shíráz

Section of the Interior Section of the Interior

Pulpit Pulpit from which the Báb
Addressed the Congregation

Entrance Door Entrance Door

Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí, his heart filled with gratitude to God, conducted the Báb to His home and committed Him to the loving care of His revered mother. He rejoiced at this family reunion and was greatly relieved by the deliverance of his dear and precious Kinsman from the grasp of that malignant tyrant. In the quiet of His own home, the Báb led for a time a life of undisturbed retirement. No one except His wife, His mother, and His uncles had any intercourse with Him. Meanwhile the mischief-makers were busily pressing Shaykh Abú-Turáb to summon the Báb to the Masjid-i-Vakíl and to call upon Him to fulfil His pledge. Shaykh Abú-Turáb was known to be a man of kindly disposition, and of a temperament and nature which bore a striking resemblance to the character of the late Mírzá Abu’l-Qásim, the Imám-Jum‘ih of Ṭihrán. He was extremely reluctant to treat with contumely persons of recognised standing, particularly if these were residents of Shíráz. Instinctively he felt this to be his duty, observed it conscientiously, and was as a result universally esteemed by the people of that city. He therefore sought, through evasive answers and repeated postponements, to appease the indignation of the multitude. He found, however, that the stirrers-up of mischief and sedition were bending every effort further to inflame the feelings of general resentment which had seized the masses. He at length felt compelled to address a confidential message to Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí, requesting him to bring the Báb with him on Friday to the Masjid-i-Vakíl, that He might fulfil the pledge He had given. “My hope,” he added, “is that by the aid of God the statements of your nephew may ease the tenseness of the situation and may lead to your tranquillity as well as to our own.”

c. Declaration of the Báb in the Masjid-i-Vakíl

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

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

Reference to those who embraced the Faith in Shíráz

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

A certain Muḥammad-Karím who was among the congregation that Friday was likewise attracted by the Báb’s remarkable behaviour on that occasion. What he saw and heard on that day brought about his immediate conversion. Persecution drove him out of Persia to ‘Iráq, where, in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, he continually deepened his understanding and faith. Later on he was bidden by Him to return to Shíráz and to endeavour to the best of his ability to propagate the Cause. There he remained and laboured to the end of his life.

Still another was Mírzá Áqáy-i-Rikáb-Sáz. He became so enamoured of the Báb on that day that no persecution, however severe and prolonged, was able either to shake his convictions or to obscure the radiance of his love. He, too, attained the presence of Bahá’u’lláh in ‘Iráq. In answer to the questions which he asked regarding the interpretation of the Disconnected Letters of the Qur’án and the meaning of the Verse of Núr, he was favoured with an expressly written Tablet revealed by the pen of Bahá’u’lláh. In His path he eventually suffered martyrdom.

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

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

And yet another of those who felt the fascination of the Báb on that day was the late Ḥájí Muḥammad-Bisáṭ, a man well-versed in the metaphysical teachings of Islám and a great admirer of both Shaykh Aḥmad and Siyyid Káẓim. He was of a kindly disposition and was gifted with a keen sense of humour. He had won the friendship of the Imám-Jum‘ih, was intimately associated with him, and was a faithful attendant at the Friday congregational prayer.

The Báb’s communication to the believers in Karbilá

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

The receipt of this unexpected intelligence created a considerable stir among those who had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Báb at Karbilá. It agitated their minds and tested their loyalty. “What of His promise to us?” whispered a few of the discontented among them. “Does He regard the breaking of His pledge as the interposition of the will of God?” The others, unlike those waverers, became more steadfast in their faith and clung with added determination to the Cause. Faithful to their Master, they joyously responded to His invitation, ignoring entirely the criticisms and protestations of those who had faltered in their faith. They set out for Iṣfahán, determined to abide by whatsoever might be the will and desire of their Beloved. They were joined by a few of their companions, who, though gravely shaken in their belief, concealed their feelings. Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alíy-i-Nahrí, whose daughter was subsequently joined in wedlock with the Most Great Branch, and Mírzá Hádí, the brother of Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí, both residents of Iṣfahán, were among those companions whose vision of the glory and sublimity of the Faith the expressed misgivings of the evil whisperers had failed to obscure. Among them, too, was a certain Muḥammad-i-Ḥaná-Sáb, also a resident of Iṣfahán, who is now serving in the home of Bahá’u’lláh. A number of these staunch companions of the Báb participated in the great struggle of Shaykh Ṭabarsí and miraculously escaped the tragic fate of their fallen brethren.

Arrival of the believers at Kangávár, and their meeting with Mullá Ḥusayn

On their way to Iṣfahán they met, in the city of Kangávár, Mullá Ḥusayn with his brother and nephew, who were his companions on his previous visit to Shíráz, and who were proceeding to Karbilá. They were greatly delighted by this unexpected encounter, and requested Mullá Ḥusayn to prolong his stay in Kangávár, with which request he readily complied. Mullá Ḥusayn, who, while in that city, led the companions of the Báb in the Friday congregational prayer, was held in such esteem and reverence by his fellow-disciples that a number of those present, who later on, in Shíráz, revealed their disloyalty to the Faith, were moved with envy. Among them were Mullá Javád-i-Baraghání and Mullá ‘Abdu’l-‘Alíy-i-Harátí, both of whom feigned submission to the Revelation of the Báb in the hope of satisfying their ambition for leadership. They both strove secretly to undermine the enviable position achieved by Mullá Ḥusayn. Through their hints and insinuations, they persistently endeavoured to challenge his authority and disgrace his name.

I have heard Mírzá Aḥmad-i-Kátib, better known in those days as Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím, who had been the travelling companion of Mullá Javád from Qazvín, relate the following: “Mullá Javád often alluded in his conversation with me to Mullá Ḥusayn. His repeated and disparaging remarks, couched in artful language, impelled me to cease my association with him. Every time I determined to sever my intercourse with Mullá Javád, I was prevented by Mullá Ḥusayn, who, discovering my intention, counselled me to exercise forbearance towards him. Mullá Ḥusayn’s association with the loyal companions of the Báb greatly added to their zeal and enthusiasm. They were edified by his example and were lost in admiration for the brilliant qualities of mind and heart which distinguished so eminent a fellow-disciple.”

Their departure with Mullá Ḥusayn for Iṣfahán

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

Departure of Mullá Ḥusayn for Shíráz

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

Arrival of six believers at Shíráz

The first group to reach the city and meet the Báb, a few days after the arrival of Mullá Ḥusayn, consisted of Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alíy-i-Nahrí, Mírzá Hádí, his brother; Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím-i-Qazvíní, Mullá Javád-i-Baraghání, Mullá ‘Abdu’l-‘Alíy-i-Harátí, and Mírzá Ibráhím-i-Shírází. In the course of their association with Him, the last three of the group gradually betrayed their blindness of heart and demonstrated the baseness of their character. The manifold evidences of the Báb’s increasing favour towards Mullá Ḥusayn aroused their anger and excited the smouldering fire of their jealousy. In their impotent rage, they resorted to the abject weapons of fraud and of calumny. Unable at first to manifest openly their hostility to Mullá Ḥusayn, they sought by every crafty device to beguile the minds and damp the affections of his devoted admirers. Their unseemly behaviour alienated the sympathy of the believers and precipitated their separation from the company of the faithful. Expelled by their very acts from the bosom of the Faith, they leagued themselves with its avowed enemies and proclaimed their utter rejection of its claims and principles. So great was the mischief which they stirred up among the people of that city that they were eventually expelled by the civil authorities, who alike despised and feared their plottings. The Báb has in a Tablet, in which He expatiates upon their machinations and misdeeds, compared them to the calf of the Sámirí, the calf that had neither voice nor soul, which was both the abject handiwork and the object of the adoration of a wayward people. “May Thy condemnation, O God!” He wrote, with reference to Mullá Javád and Mullá ‘Abdu’l-‘Alí, “rest upon the Jibt and Ṭághút, the twin idols of this perverse people.” All three subsequently proceeded to Kirmán and joined forces with Ḥájí Mírzá Muḥammad Karím Khán, whose designs they furthered and the vehemence of whose denunciations they strove to reinforce.

Account related by Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím-i-Qazvíní

One night after their expulsion from Shíráz, the Báb, who was visiting the home of Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí, where He had summoned to meet Him Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alíy-i-Nahrí, Mírzá Hádí, and Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím-i-Qazvíní, turned suddenly to the last-named and said: “‘Abdu’l-Karím, are you seeking the Manifestation?” These words, uttered with calm and extreme gentleness, had a startling effect upon him. He paled at this sudden interrogation and burst into tears. He threw himself at the feet of the Báb in a state of profound agitation. The Báb took him lovingly in His arms, kissed his forehead, and invited him to be seated by His side. In a tone of tender affection, He succeeded in appeasing the tumult of his heart.

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

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

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

“I immediately decided to consult Ḥájí Alláh-Vardí, father of Muḥammad-Javád-i-Farhádí, a man known throughout Qazvín for his deep spiritual insight. When I related to him my vision, he smiled and with extraordinary precision described to me the distinguishing features of the siyyid who had appeared to me. ‘That noble figure,’ he added, ‘was none other than Ḥájí Siyyid Káẓim-i-Rashtí, who is now in Karbilá and who may be seen expounding every day to his disciples the sacred teachings of Islám. Those who listen to his discourse are refreshed and edified by his utterance. I can never describe the impression which his words exert upon his hearers.’ I joyously arose and, expressing to him my feelings of profound appreciation, retired to my home and started forthwith on my journey to Karbilá. My old fellow-disciples came and entreated me either to call in person on the learned Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím, who had expressed a desire to meet me, or to allow him to come to my house. ‘I feel the impulse,’ I replied, ‘to visit the shrine of the Imám Ḥusayn at Karbilá. I have vowed to start immediately on that pilgrimage. I cannot postpone my departure. I will, if possible, visit him for a few moments when I start to leave the city. If I cannot, I would beg him to excuse me and to pray in my behalf that I may be guided on the straight path.’

“I confidentially acquainted my relatives with the nature of my vision and its interpretation. I informed them of my projected visit to Karbilá. My words to them that very day instilled the love of Siyyid Káẓim in their hearts. They felt greatly drawn to Ḥájí Alláh-Vardí, freely associated with him, and became his fervent admirers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meeting of Nabíl with Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím-i-Qazvíní

In the early days of the year 1265 A.H., I set out, at the age of eighteen, from my native village of Zarand for Qum, where I chanced to meet Siyyid Ismá‘íl-i-Zavári’í, surnamed Dhabíḥ, who later on, while in Baghdád, offered up his life as a sacrifice in the path of Bahá’u’lláh. Through him I was led to recognise the new Revelation. He was then preparing to leave for Mázindarán and had determined to join the heroic defenders of the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí. He had intended to take me with him, together with Mírzá Fatḥu’lláh-i-Ḥakkák, a lad of my age, who was a resident of Qum. As circumstances interfered with his plan, he promised before his departure that he would communicate with us from Ṭihrán and would ask us to join him. In the course of his conversation with Mírzá Fatḥu’lláh and me, he related to us the account of Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím’s marvellous experience. I was seized with an ardent desire to meet him. When I subsequently arrived at Ṭihrán and met Siyyid Ismá‘íl in the Madrisiy-i-Dáru’sh-Shafáy-i-Masjid-i-Sháh, I was introduced by him to this same Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím, who was then living in that same madrisih. In those days we were informed that the struggle of Shaykh Ṭabarsí had come to an end, and that those companions of the Báb who had gathered in Ṭihrán and were contemplating joining their brethren had each returned to his own province unable to achieve his goal. Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím remained in the capital, where he devoted his time to transcribing the Persian Bayán. My close association with him at that time served to deepen my love and admiration for him. I still feel, after the lapse of eight and thirty years since our first interview in Ṭihrán, the warmth of his friendship and the fervour of his faith. My feelings of affectionate regard for him prompted me to dwell at length upon the circumstances of his early life, culminating in what may be regarded as the turning point of his whole career. May it in turn serve to awaken the reader to the glory of this momentous Revelation.



Departure of Mullá Ḥusayn for Khurásán

SOON after the arrival of Mullá Ḥusayn at Shíráz, the voice of the people rose again in protest against him. The fear and indignation of the multitude were excited by the knowledge of his continued and intimate intercourse with the Báb. “He again has come to our city,” they clamoured; “he again has raised the standard of revolt and is, together with his chief, contemplating a still fiercer onslaught upon our time-honoured institutions.” So grave and menacing became the situation that the Báb instructed Mullá Ḥusayn to regain, by way of Yazd, his native province of Khurásán. He likewise dismissed the rest of His companions who had gathered in Shíráz, and bade them return to Iṣfahán. He retained Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím, to whom He assigned the duty of transcribing His writings.

These precautionary measures which the Báb deemed wise to undertake, relieved Him from the immediate danger of violence from the infuriated people of Shíráz, and served to lend a fresh impetus to the propagation of His Faith beyond the limits of that city. His disciples, who had spread throughout the length and breadth of the country, fearlessly proclaimed to the multitude of their countrymen the regenerating power of the new-born Revelation. The fame of the Báb had been noised abroad and had reached the ears of those who held the highest seats of authority, both in the capital and throughout the provinces. A wave of passionate enquiry swayed the minds and hearts of both the leaders and the masses of the people. Amazement and wonder had seized those who had heard from the lips of the immediate messengers of the Báb the tales of those signs and testimonies which had heralded the birth of His Manifestation. The dignitaries of State and Church either attended in person or delegated their ablest representatives to enquire into the truth and character of this remarkable Movement.

Siyyid Yaḥyá’s interviews with the Báb

Muḥammad Sháh himself was moved to ascertain the veracity of these reports and to enquire into their nature. He delegated Siyyid Yaḥyáy-i-Dárábí, the most learned, the most eloquent, and the most influential of his subjects, to interview the Báb and to report to him the results of his investigations. The Sháh had implicit confidence in his impartiality, in his competence and profound spiritual insight. He occupied a position of such pre-eminence among the leading figures in Persia that at whatever meeting he happened to be present, no matter how great the number of the ecclesiastical leaders who attended it, he was invariably its chief speaker. None would dare to assert his views in his presence. They all reverently observed silence before him; all testified to his sagacity, his unsurpassed knowledge and mature wisdom.

In those days Siyyid Yaḥyá was residing in Ṭihrán in the house of Mírzá Luṭf-‘Alí, the Master of Ceremonies to the Sháh, as the honoured guest of his Imperial Majesty. The Sháh confidentially signified through Mírzá Luṭf-‘Alí his desire and pleasure that Siyyid Yaḥyá should proceed to Shíráz and investigate the matter in person. “Tell him from us,” commanded the sovereign, “that inasmuch as we repose the utmost confidence in his integrity, and admire his moral and intellectual standards, and regard him as the most suitable among the divines of our realm, we expect him to proceed to Shíráz, to enquire thoroughly into the episode of the Siyyid-i-Báb, and to inform us of the results of his investigations. We shall then know what measures it behoves us to take.”

Siyyid Yaḥyá had been himself desirous of obtaining first-hand knowledge of the claims of the Báb, but had been unable, owing to adverse circumstances, to undertake the journey to Fárs. The message of Muḥammad Sháh decided him to carry out his long-cherished intention. Assuring his sovereign of his readiness to comply with his wish, he immediately set out for Shíráz.

On his way, he conceived the various questions which he thought he would submit to the Báb. Upon the replies which the latter gave to these questions would, in his view, depend the truth and validity of His mission. Upon his arrival at Shíráz, he met Mullá Shaykh ‘Alí, surnamed ‘Aẓím, with whom he had been intimately associated while in Khurásán. He asked him whether he was satisfied with his interview with the Báb. “You should meet Him,” ‘Aẓím replied, “and seek independently to acquaint yourself with His Mission. As a friend, I would advise you to exercise the utmost consideration in your conversations with Him, lest you, too, in the end should be obliged to deplore any act of discourtesy towards Him.”

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

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

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

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

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

“As I had, since my arrival at Shíráz, been living in the home of Ḥusayn Khán, the governor of Fárs, I felt that my prolonged absence from his house might excite his suspicion and inflame his anger. I therefore determined to take leave of Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí and Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím and to regain the residence of the governor. On my arrival I found that Ḥusayn Khán, who in the meantime had been searching for me, was eager to know whether I had fallen a victim to the Báb’s magic influence. ‘No one but God,’ I replied, ‘who alone can change the hearts of men, is able to captivate the heart of Siyyid Yaḥyá. Whoso can ensnare his heart is of God, and His word unquestionably the voice of Truth.’ My answer silenced the governor. In his conversation with others, I subsequently learned, he had expressed the view that I too had fallen a hopeless victim to the charm of that Youth. He had even written to Muḥammad Sháh and complained that during my stay in Shíráz I had refused all manner of intercourse with the ‘ulamás of the city. ‘Though nominally my guest,’ he wrote to his sovereign, ‘he frequently absents himself for a number of consecutive days and nights from my house. That he has become a Bábí, that he has been heart and soul enslaved by the will of the Siyyid-i-Báb, I have ceased to entertain any doubt.’

“Muḥammad Sháh himself, at one of the state functions in his capital, was reported to have addressed these words to Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí: ‘We have been lately informed that Siyyid Yaḥyáy-i-Dárábí has become a Bábí. If this be true, it behoves us to cease belittling the cause of that siyyid.’ Ḥusayn Khán, on his part, received the following imperial command: ‘It is strictly forbidden to any one of our subjects to utter such words as would tend to detract from the exalted rank of Siyyid Yaḥyáy-i-Dárábí. He is of noble lineage, a man of great learning, of perfect and consummate virtue. He will under no circumstances incline his ear to any cause unless he believes it to be conducive to the advancement of the best interests of our realm and to the well-being of the Faith of Islám.’

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

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

Conversion of Mullá Muḥammad-‘Alíy-i-Zanjání

Another dignitary of the realm who dispassionately investigated and ultimately embraced the Message of the Báb was Mullá Muḥammad-‘Alí, a native of Zanján, whom the Báb surnamed Ḥujjat-i-Zanjání. He was a man of independent mind, noted for extreme originality and freedom from all forms of traditional restraint. He denounced the whole hierarchy of the ecclesiastical leaders of his country, from the Abváb-i-Arbá’ih down to the humblest mullá among his contemporaries. He despised their character, deplored their degeneracy, and expatiated upon their vices. He even, prior to his conversion, betrayed an attitude of careless contempt for Shaykh Aḥmad-i-Aḥsá’í and Siyyid Káẓim-i-Rashtí. He was so filled with horror at the misdeeds that had stained the history of shí‘ah Islám that whoever belonged to that sect, no matter how high his personal attainments, was regarded by him as unworthy of his consideration. Not infrequently did cases of fierce controversy arise between him and the divines of Zanján which, but for the personal intervention of the Sháh, would have led to grave disorder and bloodshed. He was eventually summoned to the capital and, in the presence of his opponents, representatives of the ecclesiastical heads of Ṭihrán and other cities, was called upon to vindicate his claim. Single-handed and alone he would establish his superiority over his adversaries and would silence their clamour. Although in their hearts they dissented from his views and condemned his conduct, they were compelled to acknowledge outwardly his authority and to confirm his opinion.

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

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

Visits of Quddús to Kirmán, Ṭihrán, and Mázindarán

a. His relations with Ḥájí Siyyid Javád-i-Kirmání

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

The siyyid’s message stung Ḥájí Mírzá Karím Khán. Convulsed by a feeling of intense resentment which he could neither suppress nor gratify, he relinquished all hopes of acquiring the undisputed leadership of the people of Kirmán. That open challenge sounded the death-knell of his cherished ambitions.

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

Views of the House of Quddús Views of the House of Quddús’ Father
in Bárfurúsh

The incident was related to me by a certain Mírzá ‘Abdu’lláh-i-Ghawghá, who, while in Kirmán, had heard it from the lips of Ḥájí Siyyid Javád himself. The sincerity of the expressed intentions of the siyyid has been fully vindicated by the splendid manner in which, as a result of his endeavours, he succeeded in resisting the encroachments of the insidious Ḥájí Mírzá Karím Khán, who, had he remained unchallenged, would have caused incalculable harm to the Faith.

b. His visit to Ṭihrán

From Kirmán, Quddús decided to leave for Yazd, and from thence to proceed to Ardikán, Náyín, Ardistán, Iṣfahán, Káshán, Qum, and Ṭihrán. In each of these cities, notwithstanding the obstacles that beset his path, he succeeded in instilling into the understanding of his hearers the principles which he had so bravely risen to advocate. I have heard Áqáy-i-Kalím, the brother of Bahá’u’lláh, describe in the following terms his meeting with Quddús in Ṭihrán: “The charm of his person, his extreme affability, combined with a dignity of bearing, appealed to even the most careless observer. Whoever was intimately associated with him was seized with an insatiable admiration for the charm of that youth. We watched him one day perform his ablutions, and were struck by the gracefulness which distinguished him from the rest of the worshippers in the performance of so ordinary a rite. He seemed, in our eyes, to be the very incarnation of purity and grace.”

c. His stay in Bárfurúsh

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

Visit of Mullá Ṣádiq to Yazd

a. His relations with Mírzá Aḥmad-i-Azghandí

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

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

“When he arrived at Yazd, he was warmly welcomed by his maternal uncle, Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Azghandí, the foremost mujtahid of that city, who, a few days before the arrival of his nephew, had sent him a written request to hasten to Yazd and deliver him from the machinations of Ḥájí Mírzá Karím Khán, whom he regarded as a dangerous though unavowed enemy of Islám. The mujtahid called upon Mírzá Aḥmad to combat by every means in his power Ḥájí Mírzá Khán’s pernicious influence; and wished him to establish permanently his residence in that city, that he might, through incessant exhortations and appeals, succeed in enlightening the minds of the people as to the true aims and intentions cherished by that malignant enemy.

“Mírzá Aḥmad, concealing from his uncle his original intention to leave for Shíráz, decided to prolong his stay in Yazd. He showed him the book which he had compiled, and shared its contents with the ‘ulamás who thronged from every quarter of the city to meet him. All were greatly impressed by the industry, the erudition, and the zeal which the compiler of that celebrated work had demonstrated.

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

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

b. His experience in the Masjid of Yazd

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

Mullá Ṣádiq prefaced his discourse with one of the best-known and most exquisitely written homilies of the Báb, after which he addressed the congregation in these terms: “Render thanks to God, O people of learning, for, behold, the Gate of Divine Knowledge, which you deem to have been closed, is now wide open. The River of everlasting life has streamed forth from the city of Shíráz, and is conferring untold blessings upon the people of this land. Whoever has partaken of one drop from this Ocean of heavenly grace, no matter how humble and unlettered, has discovered in himself the power to unravel the profoundest mysteries, and has felt capable of expounding the most abstruse themes of ancient wisdom. And whoever, though he be the most learned expounder of the Faith of Islám, has chosen to rely upon his own competence and power and has disdained the Message of God, has condemned himself to irretrievable degradation and loss.”

A wave of indignation and dismay swept over the entire congregation as these words of Mullá Ṣádiq pealed out this momentous announcement. The masjid rang with cries of “Blasphemy!” which an infuriated congregation shouted in horror against the speaker. “Descend from the pulpit,” rose the voice of Siyyid Ḥusayn amid the clamour and tumult of the people, as he motioned to Mullá Ṣádiq to hold his peace and to retire. No sooner had he regained the floor of the masjid than the whole company of the assembled worshippers rushed upon him and overwhelmed him with blows. Siyyid Ḥusayn immediately intervened, vigorously dispersed the crowd, and, seizing the hand of Mullá Ṣádiq, forcibly drew him to his side. “Withhold your hands,” he appealed to the multitude; “leave him in my custody. I will take him to my home, and will closely investigate the matter. A sudden fit of madness may have caused him to utter these words. I will myself examine him. If I find that his utterances are premeditated and that he himself firmly believes in the things which he has declared, I will, with my own hands, inflict upon him the punishment imposed by the law of Islám.”

By this solemn assurance, Mullá Ṣádiq was delivered from the savage attacks of his assailants. Divested of his ‘abá and turban, deprived of his sandals and staff, bruised and shaken by the injuries he had received, he was entrusted to the care of Siyyid Ḥusayn’s attendants, who, as they forced their passage among the crowd, succeeded eventually in conducting him to the home of their master.

Sufferings of Mullá Yúsuf-i-Ardibílí and others

Mullá Yúsuf-i-Ardibílí, likewise, was subjected in those days to a persecution fiercer and more determined than the savage onslaught which the people of Yazd had directed against Mullá Ṣádiq. But for the intervention of Mírzá Aḥmad and the assistance of his uncle, he would have fallen a victim to the wrath of a ferocious enemy.

When Mullá Ṣádiq and Mullá Yúsuf-i-Ardibílí arrived at Kirmán, they again had to submit to similar indignities and to suffer similar afflictions at the hands of Ḥájí Mírzá Karím Khán and his associates. Ḥájí Siyyid Javád’s persistent exertions freed them eventually from the grasp of their persecutors, and enabled them to proceed to Khurásán.

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

Reference to Ḥájí Siyyid Javád-i-Karbilá’í

While Vaḥíd was still in Shíráz, Ḥájí Siyyid Javád-i-Karbilá’í arrived and was introduced by Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí into the presence of the Báb. In a Tablet which He addressed to Vaḥíd and Ḥájí Siyyid Javád, the Báb extolled the firmness of their faith and stressed the unalterable character of their devotion. The latter had met and known the Báb before the declaration of His Mission, and had been a fervent admirer of those extraordinary traits of character which had distinguished Him ever since His childhood. At a later time, he met Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdád and became the recipient of His special favour. When, a few years afterwards, Bahá’u’lláh was exiled to Adrianople, he, already much advanced in years, returned to Persia, tarried awhile in the province of ‘Iráq, and thence proceeded to Khurásán. His kindly disposition, extreme forbearance, and unaffected simplicity earned him the appellation of the Siyyid-i-Núr.

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

Siyyid Javád-i-Karbilá’í Siyyid Javád-i-Karbilá’í

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

Shaykh Sulṭán-i-Karbilá’í, whose ancestors ranked among the leading ‘ulamás of Karbilá, and who himself had been a firm supporter and intimate companion of Siyyid Káẓim, was also among those who, in those days, had met the Báb in Shíráz. It was he who, at a later time, proceeded to Sulaymáníyyih in search of Bahá’u’lláh, and whose daughter was subsequently given in marriage to Áqáy-i-Kalím. When he arrived at Shíráz, he was accompanied by Shaykh Ḥasan-i-Zunúzí, to whom we have referred in the early pages of this narrative. To him the Báb assigned the task of transcribing, in collaboration with Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím, the Tablets which He had lately revealed. Shaykh Sulṭán, who had been too ill, at the time of his arrival, to meet the Báb, received one night, while still on his sick-bed, a message from his Beloved, informing him that at about two hours after sunset He would Himself visit him. That night the Ethiopian servant, who was acting as lantern-bearer to his Master, was instructed to walk in advance at a distance which would keep away the attention of the people from Him, and to extinguish the lantern as soon as he reached his destination.

Account related by Shaykh Sulṭán-i-Karbilá’í

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

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

Advent of the second Naw-Rúz

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

References to the mother and to the wife of the Báb

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

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

Ḥájí Mírzá ‘Alí’s House Interior of Ḥájí Mírzá ‘Alí’s
House in Shíráz

After the Báb had settled the affairs of His household and provided for the future maintenance of both His mother and His wife, He transferred His residence from His own home to that of Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí. There He awaited the approaching hour of His sufferings. He knew that the afflictions which were in store for Him could no longer be delayed, that He was soon to be caught in a whirlwind of adversity which would carry Him swiftly to the field of martyrdom, the crowning object of His life. He bade those of His disciples who had settled in Shíráz, among whom were Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím and Shaykh Ḥasan-i-Zunúzí, to proceed to Iṣfahán and there await His further instructions. Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Yazdí, one of the Letters of the Living, who had recently arrived at Shíráz, was likewise instructed to proceed to Iṣfahán and to join the company of his fellow-disciples in that city.

Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí’s House Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí’s
House in Shíráz (The Báb’s Maternal Uncle)

Ḥusayn Khán’s activities

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

a. Report of the chief of his emissaries

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

b. Ḥusayn Khán’s directions to ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd Khán

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

Arrest of the Báb, and outbreak of the plague

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

a. Flight of Ḥusayn Khán

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

b. Recovery of the son of ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd Khán

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

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

c. Release of the Báb

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

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

Farewell of the Báb to His relatives, and His departure from Shíráz

The Báb, who was staying at the home of ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd Khán, sent Siyyid Káẓim to request Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí to come and see Him. He informed His uncle of His intended departure from Shíráz, entrusted both His mother and His wife to his care, and charged him to convey to each the expression of His affection and the assurance of God’s unfailing assistance. “Wherever they may be,” He told His uncle, as He bade him farewell, “God’s all-encompassing love and protection will surround them. I will again meet you amid the mountains of Ádhirbáyján, from whence I will send you forth to obtain the crown of martyrdom. I Myself will follow you, together with one of My loyal disciples, and will join you in the realm of eternity.”

Views of Iṣfahán Views of Iṣfahán



His letter to Manúchihr Khán

The welcome extended by the Imám-Jum‘ih

THE summer of the year 1262 A.H. was drawing to a close when the Báb bade His last farewell to His native city of Shíráz, and proceeded to Iṣfahán. Siyyid Káẓim-i-Zanjání accompanied Him on that journey. As He approached the outskirts of the city, He wrote a letter to the governor of the province, Manúchihr Khán, the Mu‘tamidu’d-Dawlih, in which He requested him to signify his wish as to the place where He could dwell. The letter, which He entrusted to Siyyid Káẓim, was expressive of such courtesy and revealed such exquisite penmanship that the Mu‘tamid was moved to instruct the Sulṭánu’l-‘Ulamá’, the Imám-Jum‘ih of Iṣfahán,’ the foremost ecclesiastical authority of that province, to receive the Báb in his own home and to accord Him a kindly and generous reception. In addition to his message, the governor sent the Imám-Jum‘ih the letter he had received from the Báb. The Sulṭánu’l-‘Ulamá’ accordingly bade his own brother, whose savage cruelty in later years earned him the appellation of Raqsha’ from Bahá’u’lláh, to proceed with a number of his favourite companions to meet and escort the expected Visitor to the gate of the city. As the Báb approached, the Imám-Jum‘ih went out to welcome Him in person, and conducted Him ceremoniously to his house.

House of Imám Jum‘ih in Iṣfahán Entrance

House of Imám Jum‘ih in Iṣfahán Courtyard

House of Imám Jum‘ih in Iṣfahán

a. Honours accorded by the people to the Báb

b. Deference shown the Báb by the Imám-Jum‘ih

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

c. The Báb’s commentary on the Súrih of Va’l-‘Aṣr

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

d. The Báb’s interview with Manúchihr Khán

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

Masjid-i-Jum‘ih in Iṣfahán Views of the Masjid-i-Jum‘ih in Iṣfahán,
Showing Pulpit before which the
Báb Prayed

The Báb instantly took up His pen and began to write. In less than two hours, He had filled about fifty pages with a most refreshing and circumstantial enquiry into the origin, the character, and the pervasive influence of Islám. The originality of His dissertation, the vigour and vividness of its style, the accuracy of its minutest details, invested His treatment of that noble theme with an excellence which no one among those who were present on that occasion could have failed to perceive. With masterly insight, He linked the central idea in the concluding passages of this exposition with the advent of the promised Qá’im and the expected “Return” of the Imám Ḥusayn. He argued with such force and courage that those who heard Him recite its verses were astounded by the magnitude of His revelation. No one dared to insinuate the slightest objection — much less, openly to challenge His statements. The Mu‘tamid could not help giving vent to his enthusiasm and joy. “Hear me!” he exclaimed. “Members of this revered assembly, I take you as my witnesses. Never until this day have I in my heart been firmly convinced of the truth of Islám. I can henceforth, thanks to this exposition penned by this Youth, declare myself a firm believer in the Faith proclaimed by the Apostle of God. I solemnly testify to my belief in the reality of the superhuman power with which this Youth is endowed, a power which no amount of learning can ever impart.” With these words he brought the meeting to an end.

Fears of Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí

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

The Báb’s visit to Manúchihr Khán

As soon as the Mu‘tamid was informed of these developments, he sent a message to the Imám-Jum‘ih in which he reminded him of the visit he as governor had paid to the Báb, and extended to him as well as to his Guest an invitation to his home. The Mu‘tamid invited Ḥájí Siyyid Asadu’lláh, son of the late Ḥájí Siyyid Muḥammad Báqir-i-Rashtí, Ḥájí Muḥammad-Ja‘far-i-Ábadiyí, Muḥammad-Mihdí, Mírzá Ḥasan-i-Núrí, and a few others to be present at that meeting. Ḥájí Siyyid Asadu’lláh refused the invitation and endeavoured to dissuade those who had been invited, from participating in that gathering. “I have sought to excuse myself,” he informed them, “and I would most certainly urge you to do the same. I regard it as most unwise of you to meet the Siyyid-i-Báb face to face. He will, no doubt, reassert his claim and will, in support of his argument, adduce whatever proof you may desire him to give, and, without the least hesitation, will reveal as a testimony to the truth he bears, verses of such a number as would equal half the Qur’án. In the end he will challenge you in these words: ‘Produce likewise, if ye are men of truth.’ We can in no wise successfully resist him. If we disdain to answer him, our impotence will have been exposed. If we, on the other hand, submit to his claim, we shall not only be forfeiting our own reputation, our own prerogatives and rights, but will have committed ourselves to acknowledge any further claims that he may feel inclined to make in the future.”

House of the Mu‘tamidu’d-Dawlih Views of the House of the Mu‘tamidu’d-Dawlih in Iṣfahán

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

Reference to Mullá Muḥammad-Taqíy-i-Harátí

The Báb had tarried forty days at the residence of the Imám-Jum‘ih. While He was still there, a certain Mullá Muḥammad-Taqíy-i-Harátí, who was privileged to meet the Báb every day, undertook, with His consent, to translate one of His works, entitled Risáliy-i-Furú‘-i-‘Adlíyyih, from the original Arabic into Persian. The service he thereby rendered to the Persian believers was marred, however, by his subsequent behaviour. Fear suddenly seized him, and he was induced eventually to sever his connection with his fellow-believers.

Banquet offered to the Báb by Mírzá Ibráhím

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

Death warrant of the Báb issued by the ‘ulamás of Iṣfahán

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

‘Imárat-i-<u>Kh</u>ur<u>sh</u>íd in Iṣfahán View of the ‘Imárat-i-Khurshíd in Iṣfahán

Section Occupied by the Báb View of the Ruins of the Section the Báb Occupied

The plan of Manúchihr Khán for the departure and return of the Báb to Iṣfahán

No sooner had the Mu‘tamid been informed of the condemnation pronounced by the ‘ulamás of Iṣfahán than he determined, by a plan which he himself conceived, to nullify the effects of that cruel verdict. He issued immediate instructions that towards the hour of sunset the Báb, escorted by five hundred horsemen of the governor’s own mounted body-guard, should leave the gate of the city and proceed in the direction of Ṭihrán. Imperative orders had been given that at the completion of each farsang one hundred of this mounted escort should return directly to Iṣfahán. To the chief of the last remaining contingent, a man in whom he placed implicit confidence, the Mu‘tamid confidentially intimated his desire that at every maydán twenty of the remaining hundred should likewise be ordered by him to return to the city. Of the twenty remaining horsemen, the Mu‘tamid directed that ten should be despatched to Ardistán for the purpose of collecting the taxes levied by the government, and that the rest, all of whom should be of his tried and most reliable men, should, by an unfrequented route, bring the Báb back in disguise to Iṣfahán. They were, moreover, instructed so to regulate their march that before dawn of the ensuing day the Báb should have arrived at Iṣfahán and should have been delivered into his custody. This plan was immediately taken in hand and duly executed. At an unsuspected hour the Báb re-entered the city, was directly conducted to the private residence of the Mu‘tamid, known by the name of ‘Imárat-i-Khurshíd, and was introduced, through a side entrance reserved for the Mu‘tamid himself, into his private apartments. The governor waited in person on the Báb, served His meals, and provided whatever was required for His comfort and safety.

Manú<u>ch</u>ihr <u>Kh</u>án Manúchihr Khán
the Mu‘tamidu’d-Dawlih

Meeting of the believers with the Báb

Meanwhile the wildest conjectures obtained currency in the city regarding the journey of the Báb to Ṭihrán, the sufferings which He was made to endure on His way to the capital, the verdict which had been pronounced against Him, and the penalty which He had suffered. These rumours greatly distressed the believers who were residing in Iṣfahán. The Mu‘tamid, who was well aware of their grief and anxiety, interceded with the Báb in their behalf and begged to be allowed to introduce them into His presence. The Báb addressed a few words in His own handwriting to Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím-i-Qazvíní, who had taken up his quarters in the madrisih of Ním-Ávard, and instructed the Mu‘tamid to send it to him by a trusted messenger. An hour later, Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím was ushered into the presence of the Báb. Of his arrival no one except the Mu‘tamid was informed. He received from his Master some of His writings, and was instructed to transcribe them in collaboration with Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Yazdí and Shaykh Ḥasan-i-Zunúzí. To these he soon returned, bearing the welcome news of the Báb’s well-being and safety. Of all the believers residing in Iṣfahán, these three alone were allowed to see Him.

The Báb’s prediction of the approaching death of Manúchihr Khán

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

Last days of Manúchihr Khán

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

Dismissal of the believers

As the life of the Mu‘tamid was approaching its end, the Báb summoned to His presence Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Yazdí and Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím, acquainted them with the nature of His prediction to His host, and bade them tell the believers who had gathered in the city, to scatter throughout Káshán, Qum, and Ṭihrán, and await whatever Providence, in His wisdom, might choose to decree.

Gurgín Khán’s communication to Muḥammad Sháh

A few days after the death of the Mu‘tamid, a certain person who was aware of the design which he had conceived and carried out for the protection of the Báb, informed his successor, Gurgín Khán, of the actual residence of the Báb in the Imárat-i-Khurshíd, and described to him the honours which his predecessor had lavished upon his Guest in the privacy of his own home. On the receipt of this unexpected intelligence, Gurgín Khán despatched his messenger to Ṭihrán and instructed him to deliver in person the following message to Muḥammad Sháh: “Four months ago it was generally believed in Iṣfahán that, in pursuance of your Majesty’s imperial summons, the Mu‘tamidu’d-Dawlih, my predecessor, had sent the Siyyid-i-Báb to the seat of your Majesty’s government. It has now been disclosed that this same siyyid is actually occupying the ‘Imárat-i-Khurshíd, the private residence of the Mu‘tamidu’d-Dawlih. It has been ascertained that my predecessor himself extended the hospitality of his home to the Siyyid-i-Báb and sedulously guarded that secret from both the people and the officials of this city. Whatever it pleases your Majesty to decree, I unhesitatingly pledge myself to perform.”

Departure of the Báb for Káshán

The Sháh, who was firmly convinced of the loyalty of the Mu‘tamid, realised, when he received this message, that the late governor’s sincere intention had been to await a favourable occasion when he could arrange a meeting between him and the Báb, and that his sudden death had interfered with the execution of that plan. He issued an imperial mandate summoning the Báb to the capital. In his written message to Gurgín Khán, the Sháh commanded him to send the Báb in disguise, in the company of a mounted escort headed by Muḥammad Big-i-Chápárchí, of the sect of the ‘Alíyu’lláhí, to Ṭihrán; to exercise the utmost consideration towards Him in the course of His journey, and strictly to maintain the secrecy of His departure.

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

Ká<u>sh</u>án View of Káshán



Dream of Ḥájí Mírzá Jání

ON THE eve of the Báb’s arrival at Káshán, Ḥájí Mírzá Jání, surnamed Parpá, a noted resident of that city, dreamed that he was standing at a late hour in the afternoon at the gate of ‘Aṭṭár, one of the gates of the city, when his eyes suddenly beheld the Báb on horseback wearing, instead of His customary turban, the kuláh usually worn by the merchants of Persia. Before Him, as well as behind Him, marched a number of horsemen into whose custody He seemed to have been delivered. As they approached the gate, the Báb saluted him and said: “Ḥájí Mírzá Jání, We are to be your Guest for three nights. Prepare yourself to receive Us.”

Gate of ‘Aṭṭár Gate of ‘Aṭṭár, Káshán

When he awoke, the vividness of his dream convinced him of the reality of his vision. This unexpected apparition constituted in his eyes a providential warning which he felt it his duty to heed and observe. He accordingly set out to prepare his house for the reception of the Visitor, and to provide whatever seemed necessary for His comfort. As soon as he had completed the preliminary arrangements for the banquet which he had decided to offer the Báb that night, Ḥájí Mírzá Jání proceeded to the gate of ‘Aṭṭár, and there waited for the signs of the Báb’s expected arrival. At the appointed hour, as he was scanning the horizon, he descried in the distance what seemed to him a company of horsemen approaching the gate of the city. As he hastened to meet them, his eyes recognised the Báb surrounded by His escort dressed in the same clothes and wearing the same expression as he had seen the night before in his dream. Ḥájí Mírzá Jání joyously approached Him and bent to kiss His stirrups. The Báb prevented him, saying: “We are to be your Guest for three nights. To-morrow is the day of Naw-Rúz; we shall celebrate it together in your home.” Muḥammad Big, who had been riding close to the Báb, thought Him to be an intimate acquaintance of Ḥájí Mírzá Jání. Turning to him, he said: “I am ready to abide by whatever is the desire of the Siyyid-i-Báb. I would ask you, however, to obtain the approval of my colleague who shares with me the charge of conducting the Siyyid-i-Báb to Ṭihrán.” Ḥájí Mírzá Jání submitted his request and was met with a flat refusal. “I decline your suggestion,” he was told. “I have been most emphatically instructed not to allow this youth to enter any city until his arrival at the capital. I have been particularly commanded to spend the night outside the gate of the city, to break my march at the hour of sunset, and to resume it the next day at the hour of dawn. I cannot depart from the orders that have been given to me.” This gave rise to a heated altercation which was eventually settled in favour of Muḥammad Big, who succeeded in inducing his opponent to deliver the Báb into the custody of Ḥájí Mírzá Jání with the express understanding that on the third morning he should safely deliver back his Guest into their hands. Ḥájí Mírzá Jání, who had intended to invite to his home the entire escort of the Báb, was advised by Him to abandon this intention. “No one but you,” He urged, “should accompany Me to your home.” Ḥájí Mírzá Jání requested to be allowed to defray the expense of the horsemen’s three days’ stay in Káshán. “It is unnecessary,” observed the Báb; “but for My will, nothing whatever could have induced them to deliver Me into your hands. All things lie prisoned within the grasp of His might. Nothing is impossible to Him. He removes every difficulty and surmounts every obstacle.” The horsemen were lodged in a caravanserai in the immediate neighbourhood of the gate of the city. Muḥammad Big, following the instructions of the Báb, accompanied Him until they drew near the house of Ḥájí Mírzá Jání. Having ascertained the actual situation of the house, he returned and joined his companions.

House of Ḥájí Mírzá Jání

House of Ḥájí Mírzá Jání Views of the House of Ḥájí Mírzá Jání in Káshán, Showing the Room where the Báb stayed

The Báb’s three days at the home of Ḥájí Mírzá Jání

a. Reference to Siyyid ‘Abdu’l-Báqí

b. The meeting of Mihdí with the Báb

The night the Báb arrived at Káshán coincided with the eve preceding the third Naw-Rúz, after the declaration of His Mission, which fell on the second day of the month of Rabí‘u’th-Thání, in the year 1263 A.H. On that same night, Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Yazdí, who had previously, in accordance with the directions of the Báb, come to Káshán, was invited to the house of Ḥájí Mírzá Jání and introduced into the presence of his Master. The Báb was dictating to him a Tablet in honour of His host, when a friend of the latter, a certain Siyyid ‘Abdu’l-Báqí, who was noted in Káshán for his learning, arrived. The Báb invited him to enter, permitted him to hear the verses which He was revealing, but refused to disclose His identity. In the concluding passages of the Tablet which He was addressing to Ḥájí Mírzá Jání, He prayed in his behalf, supplicated the Almighty to illumine his heart with the light of Divine knowledge, and to unloose his tongue for the service and proclamation of His Cause. Unschooled and unlettered though he was, Ḥájí Mírzá Jání was able, by virtue of this prayer, to impress with his speech even the most accomplished divine of Káshán. He became endowed with such power that he was able to silence every idle pretender who dared to challenge the precepts of his Faith. Even the haughty and imperious Mullá Ja‘far-i-Naráqí was unable, despite his consummate eloquence, to resist the force of his argument, and was compelled to acknowledge outwardly the merits of the Cause of his adversary, though at heart he refused to believe in its truth.

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

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

Ḥaram-i-Ma‘ṣúmih Views of Qum Showing the Ḥaram-i-Ma‘ṣúmih



His approach to Qum

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

His stay at the village of Qumrúd

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

Village of Qumrúd Village of Qumrúd

His arrival at the fortress of Kinár-Gird

His stay at the village of Kulayn

a. Arrival of a number of believers

After a march of two days from that village, they arrived, on the afternoon of the eighth day after Naw-Rúz, at the fortress of Kinár-Gird, which lies six farsangs to the south of Ṭihrán. They were planning to reach the capital on the ensuing day, and had decided to spend the night in the neighbourhood of that fortress, when a messenger unexpectedly arrived from Ṭihrán, bearing a written order from Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí to Muḥammad Big. That message instructed him to proceed immediately with the Báb to the village of Kulayn, where Shaykh-i-Kulayní, Muḥammad-ibn-i-Ya‘qúb, the author of the Usúl-i-Káfí, who was born in that place, had been laid to rest with his father, and whose shrines are greatly honoured by the people of that neighbourhood. Muḥammad Big was commanded, in view of the unsuitability of the houses in that village, to pitch a special tent for the Báb and keep the escort in its neighbourhood pending the receipt of further instructions. On the morning of the ninth day after Naw-Rúz, the eleventh day of the month of Rabí‘u’th-Thání, in the year 1263 A.H., in the immediate vicinity of that village, which belonged to Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí, a tent which had served for his own use whenever he visited that place was erected for the Báb, on the slopes of a hill pleasantly situated amid wide stretches of orchards and smiling meadows. The peacefulness of that spot, the luxuriance of its vegetation, and the unceasing murmur of its streams greatly pleased the Báb. He was joined two days after by Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Yazdí, Siyyid Ḥasan, his brother; Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím, and Shaykh Ḥasan-i-Zunúzí, all of whom were invited to lodge in the immediate surroundings of His tent. On the fourteenth day of the month of Rabí‘u’th-Thání, the twelfth day after Naw-Rúz, Mullá Mihdíy-i-Khu’í and Mullá Muḥammad-Mihdíy-i-Kandí arrived from Ṭihrán. The latter, who had been closely associated with Bahá’u’lláh in Ṭihrán, had been commissioned by Him to present to the Báb a sealed letter together with certain gifts which, as soon as they were delivered into His hands, provoked in His soul sentiments of unusual delight. His face glowed with joy as He overwhelmed the bearer with marks of His gratitude and favour.

Ruins of the Fortress of Kinár-Gird Ruins of the Fortress of Kinár-Gird

Village of Kulayn Views of the Village of Kulayn

b. Joy of the Báb at the gift and message from Bahá’u’lláh

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

c. An incident of the journey

I have heard Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím recount the following incident: “My companions and I were fast asleep in the vicinity of the tent of the Báb when the trampling of horsemen suddenly awakened us. We were soon informed that the tent of the Báb was vacant and that those who had gone out in search of Him had failed to find Him. We heard Muḥammad Big remonstrate with the guards. ‘Why feel disturbed?’ he pleaded. ‘Are not His magnanimity and nobleness of soul sufficiently established in your eyes to convince you that He will never, for the sake of His own safety, consent to involve others in embarrassment? He, no doubt, must have retired, in the silence of this moonlit night, to a place where He can seek undisturbed communion with God. He will unquestionably return to His tent. He will never desert us.’ In his eagerness to reassure his colleagues, Muḥammad Big set out on foot along the road leading to Ṭihrán. I, too, with my companions, followed him. Shortly after, the rest of the guards were seen, each on horseback, marching behind us. We had covered about a maydán when, by the dim light of the early dawn, we discerned in the distance the lonely figure of the Báb. He was coming towards us from the direction of Ṭihrán. ‘Did you believe Me to have escaped?’ were His words to Muḥammad Big as He approached him. ‘Far be it from me,’ was the instant reply as he flung himself at the feet of the Báb, ‘to entertain such thoughts.’ Muḥammad Big was too much awed by the serene majesty which that radiant face revealed that morning to venture any further remark. A look of confidence had settled upon His countenance, His words were invested with such transcendent power, that a feeling of profound reverence wrapped our very souls. No one dared to question Him as to the cause of so remarkable a change in His speech and demeanour. Nor did He Himself choose to allay our curiosity and wonder.”

Muḥammad <u>Sh</u>áh Muḥammad Sháh

d. Muḥammad Sháh’s letter to the Báb

For a fortnight the Báb tarried in that spot. The tranquillity which He enjoyed amidst those lovely surroundings was rudely disturbed by the receipt of a letter which Muḥammad Sháh himself addressed to the Báb and which was composed in these terms: “Much as we desire to meet you, we find ourself unable, in view of our immediate departure from our capital, to receive you befittingly in Ṭihrán. We have signified our desire that you be conducted to Máh-Kú, and have issued the necessary instructions to ‘Alí Khán, the warden of the castle, to treat you with respect and consideration. It is our hope and intention to summon you to this place upon our return to the seat of our government, at which time we shall definitely pronounce our judgment. We trust that we have caused you no disappointment, and that you will at no time hesitate to inform us in case any grievances befall you. We fain would hope that you will continue to pray for our well-being and for the prosperity of our realm.” (Dated Rabí‘u’th-Thání, 1263 A.H.)

e. Fears, designs, and Motives of Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí

Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí was no doubt responsible for having induced Muḥammad Sháh to address such a communication to the Báb. He was actuated solely by a sense of fear lest the contemplated interview should rob him of his position of unquestioned pre-eminence in the affairs of the State and should lead eventually to his overthrow from power. He entertained no feelings of malice or resentment toward the Báb. He finally succeeded in persuading his sovereign to transfer so dreaded an opponent to a remote and sequestered corner of his realm, and was thus able to relieve his mind of a thought that continually obsessed him. How stupendous was his mistake, how grievous his blunder! Little did he realise, at that moment, that by his incessant intrigues he was withholding from his king and country the incomparable benefits of a Divine Revelation which alone had the power to deliver the land from the appalling state of degradation into which it had fallen. By his act that short-sighted minister did not only withhold from Muḥammad Sháh the supreme instrument with which he could have rehabilitated a fast-declining empire, but also deprived him of that spiritual Agency which could have enabled him to establish his undisputed ascendancy over the peoples and nations of the earth. By his folly, his extravagance and perfidious counsels, he undermined the foundations of the State, lowered its prestige, sapped the loyalty of his subjects, and plunged them into an abyss of misery. Incapable of being admonished by the example of his predecessors, he contemptuously ignored the demands and interests of the people, pursued, with unremitting zeal, his designs for personal aggrandisement, and by his profligacy and extravagance involved his country in ruinous wars with its neighbours. Sa‘d-i-Ma‘ádh, who was neither of royal blood nor invested with authority, attained, through the uprightness of his conduct and his unsparing devotion to the Cause of Muḥammad, so exalted a station that to the present day the chiefs and rulers of Islám have continued to reverence his memory and to praise his virtues; whereas Buzurg-Mihr, the ablest, the wisest and most experienced administrator among the vazírs of Núshíraván-i-‘Ádil, in spite of his commanding position, eventually was publicly disgraced, was thrown into a pit, and became the object of the contempt and the ridicule of the people. He bewailed his plight and wept so bitterly that he finally lost his sight. Neither the example of the former nor the fate of the latter seemed to have awakened that self-confident minister to the perils of his own position. He persisted in his thoughts until he too forfeited his rank, lost his riches, and sank into abasement and shame. The numerous properties which he forcibly seized from the humble and law-abiding subjects of the Sháh, the costly furnitures with which he embellished them, the vast expenditures of labour and treasure which he ordered for their improvement — all were irretrievably lost two years after he had issued his decree condemning the Báb to a cruel incarceration in the inhospitable mountains of Ádhirbáyján. All his possessions were confiscated by the State. He himself was disgraced by his sovereign, was ignominiously expelled from Ṭihrán, and fell a prey to disease and poverty. Bereft of hope and sunk in misery, he languished in Karbilá until the hour of his death.

Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí

Last stage of the Báb’s journey to Tabríz

a. Arrival of the believers at the village Síyáh-Dihán

The Báb was accordingly ordered to proceed to Tabríz. The same escort, under the command of Muḥammad Big, attended Him on His journey to the northwestern province of Ádhirbáyján. He was allowed to select one companion and one attendant from among His followers to be with Him during His sojourn in that province. He selected Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Yazdí and Siyyid Ḥasan, his brother. He refused to expend on Himself the funds provided by the government for the expense of that journey. All the allowances that were given by the State He bestowed upon the poor and needy, and devoted to His own private needs the money which He, as a merchant, had earned in Búshihr and Shíráz. As orders had been given to avoid entering the towns in the course of the journey to Tabríz, a number of the believers of Qazvín, informed of the approach of their beloved Leader, set out for the village of Síyáh-Dihán and were there able to meet Him.

One of them was Mullá Iskandar, who had been delegated by Ḥujjat to visit the Báb in Shíráz, and to investigate His Cause. The Báb commissioned him to deliver the following message to Sulaymán Khán-i-Afshár, who was a great admirer of the late Siyyid Káẓim: “He whose virtues the late siyyid unceasingly extolled, and to the approach of whose Revelation he continually alluded, is now revealed. I am that promised One. Arise and deliver Me from the hand of the oppressor.” When the Báb entrusted this message to Mullá Iskandar, Sulaymán Khán was in Zanján and was preparing to leave for Ṭihrán. Within the space of three days, that message reached him. He failed, however, to respond to that appeal.

b. Intervention of Ḥujjat-i-Zanjání

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

Panorama of Tabríz Panorama of Tabríz

c. The Báb’s farewell to His guards

Approaching the gate of Tabríz, Muḥammad Big, feeling that the hour of his separation from his Prisoner was at hand, besought His presence and with tearful eyes begged Him to overlook his shortcomings and transgressions. “The journey from Iṣfahán,” he said, “has been long and arduous. I have failed to do my duty and to serve You as I ought. I crave Your forgiveness, and pray You to vouchsafe me Your blessings.” “Be assured,” the Báb replied, “I account you a member of My fold. They who embrace My Cause will eternally bless and glorify you, will extol your conduct and exalt your name.” The rest of the guards followed the example of their chief, implored the blessings of their Prisoner, kissed His feet, and with tears in their eyes bade Him a last farewell. To each the Báb expressed His appreciation of his devoted attentions and assured him of His prayers in his behalf. Reluctantly they delivered Him into the hands of the governor of Tabríz, the heir to the throne of Muḥammad Sháh. To those with whom they were subsequently brought in contact, these devoted attendants of the Báb and eye-witnesses of His superhuman wisdom and power, recounted with awe and admiration the tale of those wonders which they had seen and heard, and by this means helped to diffuse in their own way the knowledge of the new Revelation.

d. The Báb welcomed by His youthful disciple

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

Citadel of Tabríz where the Báb was Confined The Ark (Citadel) of Tabríz where the Báb was Confined, Showing Interior and Exterior (X) of Room He Occupied

The Báb’s arrival at Tabríz

a. Enthusiastic reception by the people of Tabríz

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

b. The Báb’s meeting with Ḥájí Muḥammad-Taqíy-i-Mílání and Ḥájí ‘Alí-‘Askar

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

c. Account related by Ḥájí ‘Alí-‘Askar

“I recall how, in the course of my association with Mullá Ḥusayn, I was impressed by the many evidences of his perspicacity and extraordinary power. I was privileged to accompany him on his journey from Shíráz to Mashhad, and visited with him the towns of Yazd, Ṭabas, Bushrúyih, and Turbat. I deplored in those days the sadness of my failure to meet the Báb in Shíráz. ‘Grieve not,’ Mullá Ḥusayn confidently assured me; ‘the Almighty is no doubt able to compensate you in Tabríz for the loss you have sustained in Shíráz. Not once, but seven times, can He enable you to partake of the joy of His presence, in return for the one visit which you have missed.’ I was amazed at the confidence with which he uttered those words. Not until the time of my visit to the Báb in Tabríz, when, despite adverse circumstances, I was, on several occasions, admitted into His presence, did I recall those words of Mullá Ḥusayn and marvel at his remarkable foresight. How great was my surprise when, on my seventh visit to the Báb, 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.’”

The Castle of Máh-Kú The Castle of Máh-Kú



Account related by Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Yazdí

SIYYID ḤUSAYN-I-YAZDÍ has been heard to relate the following: “During the first ten days of the Báb’s incarceration in Tabríz, no one knew what would next befall Him. The wildest conjectures were current in the city. One day I ventured to ask Him whether He would continue to remain where He was or would be transferred to still another place. ‘Have you forgotten,’ was His immediate reply, ‘the question you asked me in Iṣfahán? For a period of no less than nine months, we shall remain confined in the Jabal-i-Básiṭ, from whence we shall be transferred to the Jabal-i-Shadíd. Both these places are among the mountains of Khuy and are situated on either side of the town bearing that name.’ Five days after the Báb had uttered this prediction, orders were issued to transfer Him and me to the castle of Máh-Kú and to deliver us into the custody of ‘Alí Khán-i-Máh-Kú’í.”

Situation of Máh-Kú, and character of its people

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

Attachment of inhabitants of Máh-Kú to the Báb

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

Arrival of Shaykh Ḥasan-i-Zunúzí, and the Báb’s message to him

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

Dream of ‘Alí Khán-i-Máh-Kú’í

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

Change in the attitude of ‘Alí Khán

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

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

Reference to the Persian Bayán

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

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

Visit of the Báb’s disciples to Máh-Kú

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

Incidents in the life of the Báb at Máh-Kú

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

Dream of the Báb prior to the declaration of His Mission

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

Misfortunes befall Muḥammad Sháh and his government

No sooner had Muḥammad Sháh condemned the Báb to captivity amid the mountain fastnesses of Ádhirbáyján than he became afflicted with a sudden reverse of fortune, such as he had never known before and which struck at the very foundations of his State. Appalling disaster surprised his forces that were engaged in maintaining internal order throughout the provinces. The standard of rebellion was hoisted in Khurásán, and so great was the consternation provoked by that rising that the projected campaign of the Sháh to Hirát was immediately abandoned. Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí’s recklessness and prodigality had fanned into flame the smouldering fires of discontent, had exasperated the masses and encouraged them to stir up sedition and mischief. The most turbulent elements in Khurásán that inhabited the regions of Qúchán, Bujnúrd, and Shíraván leagued themselves with the Sálár, son of the Áṣifu’d-Dawlih, the elder maternal uncle of the Sháh and governor of the province, and repudiated the authority of the central government. Whatever forces were despatched from the capital met with immediate defeat at the hands of the chief instigators of the rebellion. Ja‘far-Qulí Khán-i-Námdár and Amír Arslán Khán, son of the Sálár, who conducted the operations against the forces of the Sháh, displayed the utmost cruelty and, having repulsed the attacks of the enemy, mercilessly put their captives to death.

Departure of Mullá Ḥusayn from Mashhad on his pilgrimage to Máh-Kú

a. Motive of his departure

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

b. His visit to Ṭihrán

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

c. His arrival at Máh-Kú and dream of ‘Alí Khán

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

View of Mílán in Á<u>dh</u>irbáyján View of Mílán in Ádhirbáyján

This strange experience of ‘Alí Khán brought about a deepening of reverence in his attitude towards the Báb. His faith in the potency of His Revelation became even greater, and his devotion to Him was vastly increased. In an attitude of humble surrender, he followed Mullá Ḥusayn until they reached the gate of the castle. As soon as the eyes of Mullá Ḥusayn fell upon the countenance of his Master, who was seen standing at the threshold of the gate, he halted instantly and, bowing low before Him, stood motionless by His side. The Báb stretched forth His arms and affectionately embraced him. Taking him by the hand, He conducted him to His chamber. He then summoned His friends into His presence and celebrated in their company the feast of Naw-Rúz. Dishes of sweetmeats and of the choicest fruits had been spread before Him. He distributed them among His assembled friends, and as He offered some of the quinces and apples to Mullá Ḥusayn, He said: “These luscious fruits have come to us from Mílán, the Arḍ-i-Jannat, and have been specially plucked and consecrated to this feast by the Ismu’lláhu’l-Fatíq.”

Until that time no one of the disciples of the Báb but Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Yazdí and his brother had been allowed to spend the night within the castle. That day ‘Alí Khán went to the Báb and said: “If it be Your desire to retain Mullá Ḥusayn with You this night, I am ready to abide by Your wish, for I have no will of my own. However long You desire him to stay with You, I pledge myself to carry out Your command.” The disciples of the Báb continued to arrive in increasing numbers at Máh-Kú, and were immediately and without the least restriction admitted to His presence.

Words of the Báb to Mullá Ḥusayn

One day, as the Báb, in the company of Mullá Ḥusayn, was looking out over the landscape of the surrounding country from the roof of the castle, He gazed towards the west and, as He saw the Araxes winding its course far away below Him, turned to Mullá Ḥusayn and said: “That is the river, and this is the bank thereof, of which the poet Ḥáfiẓ has thus written: ‘O zephyr, shouldst thou pass by the banks of the Araxes, implant a kiss on the earth of that valley and make fragrant thy breath. Hail, a thousand times hail, to thee, O abode of Salmá! How dear is the voice of thy camel-drivers, how sweet the jingling of thy bells!’ The days of your stay in this country are approaching their end. But for the shortness of your stay, we would have shown you the ‘abode of Salmá,’ even as we have revealed to your eyes the ‘banks of the Araxes.’” By the “abode of Salmá” the Báb meant the town of Salmás, which is situated in the neighbourhood of Chihríq and which the Turks designate as Salmás. Continuing His remarks, the Báb said: “It is the immediate influence of the Holy Spirit that causes words such as these to stream from the tongue of poets, the significance of which they themselves are oftentimes unable to apprehend. The following verse is also divinely inspired: ‘Shíráz 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 Baghdád.’ The mystery enshrined within this verse is now concealed; it will be revealed in the year after Ḥín.” The Báb subsequently quoted this well-known tradition: “Treasures lie hidden beneath the throne of God; the key to those treasures is the tongue of poets.” He then, one after the other, related to Mullá Ḥusayn those events which must needs transpire in the future, and bade him not to mention them to anyone. “A few days after your departure from this place,” the Báb informed him, “they will transfer Us to another mountain. Ere you arrive at your destination, the news of Our departure from Máh-Kú will have reached you.”

Accusation against ‘Alí Khán, and the Báb’s consequent transference to Chihríq

The prediction which the Báb had uttered was promptly fulfilled. Those who had been charged to watch secretly the movements and conduct of ‘Alí Khán submitted to Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí a detailed report in which they expatiated upon his extreme devotion to his Prisoner and described such incidents as tended to confirm their statements. “Day and night,” they wrote him, “the warden of the castle of Máh-Kú is to be seen associating with his captive in conditions of unrestrained freedom and friendliness. ‘Alí Khán, who obstinately refused to wed his daughter with the heir to the throne of Persia, pleading that such an act would so infuriate the sunní relatives of his mother that they would unhesitatingly put him and his daughter to death, now with the keenest eagerness desires that same daughter to be espoused to the Báb. The latter has refused, but ‘Alí Khán still persists in his entreaty. But for the prisoner’s refusal, the nuptials of the maiden would have been already celebrated.” ‘Alí Khán had actually made such a request and had even begged Mullá Ḥusayn to intercede in his behalf with the Báb but had failed to obtain His consent.

These malevolent reports had an immediate influence upon Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí. Fear and resentment again impelled that capricious minister to issue a peremptory order for the transference of the Báb to the castle of Chihríq.

Farewell of the Báb to Mullá Ḥusayn

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

On the morning of the ninth day after Naw-Rúz, Mullá Ḥusayn set forth, as bidden by his Master, on his journey to Mázindarán. To Qambar-‘Alí the Báb addressed these parting words: “The Qambar-‘Alí of a bygone age would glory in that his namesake has lived to witness a Day for which even He who was the Lord of his lord sighed in vain; of which He, with keen longing, has spoken: ‘Would that My eyes could behold the faces of My brethren who have been privileged to attain unto His Day!’”



Departure of Mullá Ḥusayn for Ṭihrán

‘ALÍ KHÁN cordially invited Mullá Ḥusayn to tarry a few days in his home before his departure from Máh-Kú. He expressed a keen desire to provide every facility for his journey to Mázindarán. The latter, however, refused to delay his departure or to avail himself of the means of comfort which ‘Alí Khán had so devotedly placed at his disposal.

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

His stay at the home of Quddús in Bárfurúsh

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

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

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

Observations regarding Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí and Mullá Ḥusayn

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

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

Instructions of Quddús to Mullá Ḥusayn

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

Interview of Mullá Ḥusayn with the Sa‘ídu’l-‘Ulamá’

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

Departure of Mullá Ḥusayn, and his arrival at Mashhad

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



Allusion to Bahá’u’lláh

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

Epistle of the Báb to the believers

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

Response of Ṭáhirih to the appeal of the Báb

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

a. Her Activities in Karbilá

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

b. Her activities in Baghdád

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

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

From Karbilá she proceeded to Baghdád. A representative delegation, consisting of the ablest leaders among the shí‘ah, the sunní, the Christian and Jewish communities of that city, sought her presence and endeavoured to convince her of the folly of her actions. She was able, however, to silence their protestations, and astounded them with the force of her argument. Disillusioned and confused, they retired, deeply conscious of their own impotence.

c. Her stay in Kirmánsháh and Hamadán

The ‘ulamás of Kirmánsháh respectfully received her and presented her with various tokens of their esteem and admiration. In Hamadán, however, the ecclesiastical leaders of the city were divided in their attitude towards her. A few sought privily to provoke the people and undermine her prestige; others were moved to extol openly her virtues and applaud her courage. “It behoves us,” these friends declared from their pulpits, “to follow her noble example and reverently to ask her to unravel for us the mysteries of the Qur’án and to resolve the intricacies of the holy Book. For our highest attainments are but a drop compared to the immensity of her knowledge.” While in Hamadán, Ṭáhirih was met by those whom her father, Ḥájí Mullá Ṣáliḥ, had sent from Qazvín to welcome and urge her, on his behalf, to visit her native town and prolong her stay in their midst. She reluctantly consented. Ere she departed, she bade those who had accompanied her from ‘Iráq to proceed to their native land. Among them were Shaykh Sulṭán, Shaykh Muḥammad-i-Shibl and his youthful son, Muḥammad-Muṣṭafá, ‘Ábid and his son Náṣir, who subsequently was given the name of Ḥájí ‘Abbás. Those of her companions who had been living in Persia, such as Siyyid Muḥammad-i-Gulpáygání, whose pen-name was Ṭá’ir, and whom Ṭáhirih had styled Fatá’l-Malíḥ, and others were also bidden to return to their homes. Only two of her companions remained with her — Shaykh Ṣáliḥ and Mullá Ibráhím-i-Gulpáygání, both of whom quaffed the cup of martyrdom, the first in Ṭihrán and the other in Qazvín. Of her own kinsmen, Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí, one of the Letters of the Living and her brother-in-law, and Siyyid ‘Abdu’l-Hádí, who had been betrothed to her daughter, travelled with her all the way from Karbilá to Qazvín.

d. Her confinement in Qazvín

(1) Her reply to Mullá Muḥammad

On her arrival at the house of her father, her cousin, the haughty and false-hearted Mullá Muḥammad, son of Mullá Taqí, who esteemed himself, next to his father and his uncle, the most accomplished of all the mujtahids of Persia, sent certain ladies of his own household to persuade Ṭáhirih to transfer her residence from her father’s house to his own. “Say to my presumptuous and arrogant kinsman,” was her bold reply to the messengers: “‘If your desire had really been to be a faithful mate and companion to me, you would have hastened to meet me in Karbilá and would on foot have guided my howdah all the way to Qazvín. I would, while journeying with you, have aroused you from your sleep of heedlessness and would have shown you the way of truth. But this was not to be. Three years have elapsed since our separation. Neither in this world nor in the next can I ever be associated with you. I have cast you out of my life for ever.’”

Houses in Which Ṭáhirih Lived Houses in Which Ṭáhirih Lived in Qazvín

Ṭáhirih’s Library Ṭáhirih’s Library in her Father’s Home in Qazvín, Showing one of Her Relatives

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

(2) Arrival of Mullá ‘Abdu’lláh, and murder of Mullá Taqí

This state of tension continued until the time when a certain Mullá ‘Abdu’lláh, a native of Shíráz and fervent admirer of both Shaykh Aḥmad and Siyyid Káẓim, arrived in Qazvín at the beginning of the month of Ramaḍán, in the year 1263 A.H. Subsequently, in the course of his trial in Ṭihrán, in the presence of the Ṣáḥib-Díván, this same Mullá ‘Abdu’lláh recounted the following: “I have never been a convinced Bábí. When I arrived at Qazvín, I was on my way to Máh-Kú, intending to visit the Báb and investigate the nature of His Cause. On the day of my arrival at Qazvín, I became aware that the town was in a great state of turmoil. As I was passing through the market-place, I saw a crowd of ruffians who had stripped a man of his head-dress and shoes, had wound his turban around his neck, and by it were dragging him through the streets. An angry multitude was tormenting him with their threats, their blows and curses. ‘His unpardonable guilt,’ I was told in answer to my enquiry, ‘is that he has dared to extol in public the virtues of Shaykh Aḥmad and Siyyid Káẓim. Accordingly, Ḥájí Mullá Taqí, the Ḥujjatu’l-Islám, has pronounced him a heretic and decreed his expulsion from the town.’”

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

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

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

The candour and sincerity of Mullá ‘Abdu’lláh greatly pleased the Ṣáḥib-Díván. He gave secret orders to his attendants to enable him to escape from prison. At the hour of midnight, the prisoner took refuge in the home of Riḍá Khán-i-Sardár, who had recently been married to the sister of the Sipah-Sálár, and remained concealed in that house until the great struggle of Shaykh Ṭabarsí, when he determined to throw in his lot with the heroic defenders of the fort. He, as well as Riḍá Khán, who followed him to Mázindarán, quaffed eventually the cup of martyrdom.

(3) Imprisonment of the accused in Ṭihrán, and intervention and confinement of Bahá’u’lláh

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

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

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

(4) Appeal to Muḥammad Sháh

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

(5) Execution of first Bahá’í martyr in Persia

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

(6) Attitude of Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí, and intervention of Ṣadr-i-Ardibílí

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

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

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

(7) Massacre of Qazvín

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

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

(8) Effects of the massacre in Ṭihrán

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

e. Her deliverance by Bahá’u’lláh

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

(1) Her removal to Ṭihrán

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

(2) Effects of her departure from Qazvín

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

(3) Her attitude towards the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh

The hour which Ṭáhirih had fixed for her deliverance found her already securely established under the sheltering shadow of Bahá’u’lláh. 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. As it was with her acceptance of the Faith proclaimed by the Báb when she, unwarned and unsummoned, had hailed His Message and recognised its truth, so did she perceive through her own intuitive knowledge the future glory of Bahá’u’lláh. It was in the year ’60, while in Karbilá, that she alluded in her odes to her recognition of the Truth He was to reveal. I have myself been shown in Ṭihrán, in the home of Siyyid Muḥammad, whom Ṭáhirih had styled Fatá’l-Malíḥ, 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 Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. In that ode the following verse occurs: “The effulgence of the Abhá Beauty hath pierced the veil of night; behold the souls of His lovers dancing, moth-like, in the light that has flashed from His face!” It was her steadfast conviction in the unconquerable power of Bahá’u’lláh that prompted her to utter her prediction with such confidence, and to fling her challenge so boldly in the face of her enemies. Nothing short of an immovable faith in the unfailing efficacy of that power could have induced her, in the darkest hours of her captivity, to assert with such courage and assurance the approach of her victory.

f. Her departure for Khurásán

(1) Instructions of Bahá’u’lláh to Áqáy-i-Kalím

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

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

“Upon my arrival at Ṭihrán, I despatched Mullá Báqir, one of the Letters of the Living, together with an attendant, to join Ṭáhirih. I informed Bahá’u’lláh of her safe departure from the capital. He was greatly pleased at the information I gave Him, and named that orchard ‘Bágh-i-Jannat.’ ‘That house,’ He remarked, ‘has been providentially prepared for your reception, that you may entertain in it the loved ones of God.’

(2) Her departure from Ṭihrán

“Ṭáhirih tarried seven days in that spot, after which she set out, accompanied by Muḥammad-Ḥasan-i-Qazvíní, surnamed Fatá, and a few others, in the direction of Khurásán. I was commanded by Bahá’u’lláh to arrange for her departure and to provide whatever might be required for her journey.”



Departure of Bahá’u’lláh from Ṭihrán

SOON after Ṭáhirih had started on her journey, Bahá’u’lláh instructed Áqáy-i-Kalím to complete the necessary preparations for His contemplated departure for Khurásán. He committed to his care His family and asked him to provide whatever might be conducive to their well-being and safety.

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

The Disturbances at Mashhad

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

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

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

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

The city of Mashhad, which had just recovered its peace and tranquillity after the rebellion that the Sálár had provoked, was plunged again into confusion and distress. Prince Ḥamzih Mírzá was stationed with his men and munitions at a distance of four farsangs from the city, ready to face whatever emergency might arise when the news of these fresh disturbances suddenly reached him. He immediately despatched a detachment to the city with instructions to obtain the assistance of the governor for the arrest of Mullá Ḥusayn, and to conduct him into his presence. ‘Abdu’l-‘Alí Khán-i-Marághiyí, the captain of the prince’s artillery, immediately intervened. “I deem myself,” he pleaded, “one among the lovers and admirers of Mullá Ḥusayn. If you contemplate inflicting any harm upon him, I pray you to take my life and then to proceed to execute your design; for I cannot, so long as I live, tolerate the least disrespect towards him.”

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

Departure of Quddús for Mázindarán

On the receipt of this communication, Mullá Ḥusayn presented it to Quddús, who advised him to respond to the invitation of the prince. “No harm can befall you,” Quddús assured him. “As to me, I shall this very night set out in the company of Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alíy-i-Qazvíní, one of the Letters of the Living, for Mázindarán. Please God, you too, later on, at the head of a large company of the faithful and preceded by the ‘Black Standards,’ will depart from Mashhad and join me. We shall meet at whatever place the Almighty will have decreed.”

Village of <u>Sh</u>áh-Rúd Village of Sháh-Rúd

Mullá Ḥusayn joyously responded. He threw himself at the feet of Quddús and assured him of his firm determination to discharge with fidelity the obligations which he had imposed upon him. Quddús lovingly took him in his arms and, kissing his eyes and his forehead, committed him to the Almighty’s unfailing protection. Early that same afternoon, Mullá Ḥusayn mounted his steed and rode out with dignity and calm to the encampment of Prince Ḥamzih Mírzá, and was ceremoniously conducted by ‘Abdu’l-‘Alí Khán, who, together with a number of officers, had been appointed by the prince to go out and welcome him, to the tent that had been specially erected for his use.

That very night, Quddús summoned to his presence Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir-i-Qá’iní, who had built the Bábíyyih, together with a number of the most prominent among his companions, and enjoined upon them to bear unquestioned allegiance to Mullá Ḥusayn and to obey implicitly whatever he might wish them to do. “Tempestuous are the storms which lie ahead of us,” he told them. “The days of stress and violent commotion are fast approaching. Cleave to him, for in obedience to his command lies your salvation.”

With these words, Quddús bade farewell to his companions and, accompanied by Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alíy-i-Qazvíní, departed from Mashhad. A few days later, he encountered Mírzá Sulaymán-i-Núrí, who informed him of the circumstances attending the deliverance of Ṭáhirih from her confinement in Qazvín, of her journey in the direction of Khurásán, and of Bahá’u’lláh’s subsequent departure from the capital. Mírzá Sulaymán, as well as Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí, remained in the company of Quddús until their arrival at Badasht. They reached that hamlet at the hour of dawn and found there assembled a large gathering of people whom they recognised as their fellow-believers. They decided, however, to resume their journey, and proceeded directly to Sháh-Rúd. As they were approaching that village, Mírzá Sulaymán, who was following at a distance behind them, encountered Muḥammad-i-Ḥaná-Sáb, who was on his way to Badasht. In answer to his enquiry as to the object of that gathering, Mírzá Sulaymán was informed that Bahá’u’lláh and Ṭáhirih had, a few days before, left Sháh-Rúd for that hamlet; that a large number of believers had already arrived from Iṣfahán, Qazvín, and other towns of Persia, and were waiting to accompany Bahá’u’lláh on His intended journey to Khurásán. “Tell Mullá Aḥmad-i-Ibdál, who is now in Badasht,” Mírzá Sulaymán remarked, “that this very morning a light has shone upon you, the radiance of which you have failed to recognise.”

Meeting of Bahá’u’lláh with Quddús in Sháh-Rúd

Their arrival at Badasht

No sooner had Bahá’u’lláh been informed by Muḥammad-i-Ḥaná-Sáb of the arrival of Quddús at Sháh-Rúd than He decided to join him. Attended by Mullá Muḥammad-i-Mu‘allim-i-Núrí, He set out on horseback that same evening for that village, and had returned with Quddús to Badasht the next morning at the hour of sunrise.

Hamlet of Bada<u>sh</u>t Hamlet of Badasht

a. Significance of the gathering in Badasht

It was then the beginning of summer. Upon His arrival, Bahá’u’lláh rented three gardens, one of which He assigned exclusively to the use of Quddús, another He set apart for Ṭáhirih and her attendant, and reserved the third for Himself. Those who had gathered in Badasht were eighty-one in number, all of whom, from the time of their arrival to the day of their dispersion, were the guests of Bahá’u’lláh. Every day, He revealed a Tablet which Mírzá Sulaymán-i-Núrí chanted in the presence of the assembled believers. Upon each He bestowed a new name. He Himself was henceforth designated by the name of Bahá; upon the Last Letter of the Living was conferred the appellation of Quddús, and to Qurratu’l-‘Ayn was given the title of Ṭáhirih. To each of those who had convened at Badasht a special Tablet was subsequently revealed by the Báb, each of whom He addressed by the name recently conferred upon him. When, at a later time, a number of the more rigid and conservative among her fellow-disciples chose to accuse Ṭáhirih of indiscreetly rejecting the time-honoured traditions of the past, the Báb, to whom these complaints had been addressed, replied in the following terms: “What am I to say regarding her whom the Tongue of Power and Glory has named Ṭáhirih [the Pure One]?”

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

b. Incident related by Shaykh Abú-Turáb

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

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

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

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

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

The Persian Howdah The Persian Howdah

c. Differences among the believers

That memorable day and those which immediately followed it witnessed the most revolutionary changes in the life and habits of the assembled followers of the Báb. Their manner of worship underwent a sudden and fundamental transformation. The prayers and ceremonials by which those devout worshippers had been disciplined were irrevocably discarded. A great confusion, however, prevailed among those who had so zealously arisen to advocate these reforms. A few condemned so radical a change as being the essence of heresy, and refused to annul what they regarded as the inviolable precepts of Islám. Some regarded Ṭáhirih as the sole judge in such matters and the only person qualified to claim implicit obedience from the faithful. Others who denounced her behaviour held to Quddús, whom they regarded as the sole representative of the Báb, the only one who had the right to pronounce upon such weighty matters. Still others who recognised the authority of both Ṭáhirih and Quddús viewed the whole episode as a God-sent test designed to separate the true from the false and distinguish the faithful from the disloyal.

d. Reconciliation achieved by Bahá’u’lláh

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

e. Departure from Badasht

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

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

The incident in Níyálá as related by Bahá’u’lláh

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

Bahá’u’lláh, accompanied by Ṭáhirih and her attendant, proceeded to Núr. He appointed Shaykh Abú-Turáb to watch over her and ensure her protection and safety. Meanwhile the mischief-makers were endeavouring to kindle the anger of Muḥammad Sháh against Bahá’u’lláh, and, by representing Him as the prime mover of the disturbances of Sháh-Rúd and Mázindarán, succeeded eventually in inducing the sovereign to have Him arrested. “I have hitherto,” the Sháh is reported to have angrily remarked, “refused to countenance whatever has been said against him. My indulgence has been actuated by my recognition of the services rendered to my country by his father. This time, however, I am determined to put him to death.”

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

Outcome of that incident

Quddús had in the meantime fallen into the hands of his opponents, and was confined in Sárí in the home of Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí, the leading mujtahid of that town. The rest of his companions, after their dispersal in Níyálá, had scattered in different directions, each carrying with him to his fellow-believers the news of the momentous happenings of Badasht.

Castle of <u>Ch</u>ihríq Castle of Chihríq



THE incident of Níyálá occurred in the middle of the month of Sha‘bán, in the year 1264 A.H. Towards the end of that same month, the Báb was brought to Tabríz, where He suffered at the hands of His oppressors a severe and humiliating injury. That deliberate affront to His dignity almost synchronised with the attack which the inhabitants of Níyálá directed against Bahá’u’lláh and His companions. The one was pelted with stones by an ignorant and pugnacious people; the other was afflicted with stripes by a cruel and treacherous enemy.

I shall now relate the circumstances that led to that odious indignity which the persecutors of the Báb chose to inflict upon Him. He had, in pursuance of the orders issued by Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí, been transferred to the castle of Chihríq and consigned to the keeping of Yaḥyá Khán-i-Kurd, whose sister was the wife of Muḥammad Sháh, the mother of the Náyibu’s-Salṭanih. Strict and explicit instructions had been given by the Grand Vazír to Yaḥyá Khán, enjoining him not to allow anyone to enter the presence of his Prisoner. He was particularly warned not to follow the example of ‘Alí Khán-i-Máh-Kú’í, who had gradually been led to disregard the orders he had received.

Attitude of the people of Chihríq towards the Báb

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

The Báb’s instructions to an attendant

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

Acceptance of the Message by ‘ulamás and government officials

a. Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí and his brother

During the Báb’s captivity in the castle of Chihríq, events of a startling character caused grave perturbation to the government. It soon became evident that a number of the most eminent among the siyyids, the ‘ulamás, and the government officials of Khuy had espoused the Cause of the Prisoner and had completely identified themselves with His Faith. Among them figured Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí and his brother Búyúk-Áqá, both siyyids of distinguished merit who had risen with fevered earnestness to proclaim their Faith to all sorts and conditions of people among their countrymen. A continuous stream of seekers and confirmed believers flowed back and forth, as the result of such activities, between Khuy and Chihríq.

b. Mírzá Asadu’lláh

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

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

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

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

c. A dervish from India

A further cause for apprehension on the part of the government authorities was supplied by the arrival at Chihríq of a dervish who had come from India and who, as soon as he met the Báb, acknowledged the truth of His Mission. All who met that dervish, whom the Báb had named Qahru’lláh, during his sojourn at Iskí-Shahr, felt the warmth of his enthusiasm and were deeply impressed by the tenacity of his conviction. An increasing number of people became enamoured of the charm of his personality and willingly acknowledged the compelling power of his Faith. Such was the influence which he exercised over them that a few among the believers were inclined to regard him as an exponent of Divine Revelation, although he altogether disclaimed such pretensions. He was often heard to relate the following: “In the days when I occupied the exalted position of a navváb in India, the Báb appeared to me in a vision. He gazed at me and won my heart completely. I arose, and had started to follow Him, when He looked at me intently and said: ‘Divest yourself of your gorgeous attire, depart from your native land, and hasten on foot to meet Me in Ádhirbáyján. In Chihríq you will attain your heart’s desire.’ I followed His directions and have now reached my goal.”

Believers dismissed from Chihríq

The news of the turmoil which that lowly dervish had been able to raise among the Kurdish leaders in Chihríq reached Tabríz and was thence communicated to Ṭihrán. No sooner had the news reached the capital than orders were issued to transfer the Báb immediately to Tabríz in the hope of allaying the excitement which His continued residence in that locality had provoked. Before the news of this fresh order had reached Chihríq, the Báb had charged ‘Aẓím to inform Qahru’lláh of His desire that he return to India and there consecrate his life to the service of His Cause. “Alone and on foot,” He commanded him, “he should return whence he came. With the same ardour and detachment with which he performed his pilgrimage to this country, he must now repair to his native land and unceasingly labour to advance the interests of the Cause.” He also bade him instruct Mírzá ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb-i-Turshízí, who was living in Khuy, to proceed immediately to Urúmíyyih, where He said He would soon join him. ‘Aẓím himself was directed to leave for Tabríz and there inform Siyyid Ibráhím-i-Khalíl of His approaching arrival at that city. “Tell him,” the Báb added, “that the fire of Nimrod will shortly be kindled in Tabríz, but despite the intensity of its flame no harm will befall our friends.”

No sooner had Qahru’lláh received the message from his Master than he arose to carry out His wishes. To anyone who wished to accompany him, he would say: “You can never endure the trials of this journey. Abandon the thought of coming with me. You would surely perish on your way, inasmuch as the Báb has commanded me to return alone to my native land.” The compelling force of his reply silenced those who begged to be allowed to journey with him. He refused to accept either money or clothing from anyone. Alone, clad in the meanest attire, staff in hand, he walked all the way back to his country. No one knows what ultimately befell him.

Muḥammad-‘Alíy-i-Zunúzí, surnamed Anís, was among those who heard of the message from the Báb in Tabríz, and was fired with the desire to hasten to Chihríq and attain His presence. Those words had kindled in him an irrepressible longing to sacrifice himself in His path. Siyyid ‘Alíy-i-Zunúzí, his stepfather, a notable of Tabríz, strenuously objected to his leaving the city, and was at last induced to confine him in his house and strictly watch over him. His son languished in his confinement until the time when his Beloved had reached Tabríz and had been taken back again to His prison in Chihríq.

I have heard Shaykh Ḥasan-i-Zunúzí relate the following: “At about the same time that the Báb dismissed ‘Aẓím from His presence, I was instructed by Him to collect all the available Tablets that He had revealed during His incarceration in the castles of Máh-Kú and Chihríq, and to deliver them into the hands of Siyyid Ibráhím-i-Khalíl, who was then living in Tabríz, and urge him to conceal and preserve them with the utmost care.

Incident concerning Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí

“During my stay in that city, I often visited Siyyid ‘Alíy-i-Zunúzí, who was related to me, and frequently heard him deplore the sad fate of his son. ‘He seems to have lost his reason,’ he bitterly complained. ‘He has, by his behaviour, brought reproach and shame upon me. Try to calm the agitation of his heart and induce him to conceal his convictions.’ Every day I visited him, I witnessed the tears that continually rained from his eyes. After the Báb had departed from Tabríz, one day as I went to see him, I was surprised to note the joy and gladness which had illumined his countenance. His handsome face was wreathed in smiles as he stepped forward to receive me. ‘The eyes of my Beloved,’ he said, as he embraced me, ‘have beheld this face, and these eyes have gazed upon His countenance.’ ‘Let me,’ he added, ‘tell you the secret of my happiness. After the Báb had been taken back to Chihríq, one day, as I lay confined in my cell, I turned my heart to Him and besought Him in these words: “Thou beholdest, O my Best-Beloved, my captivity and helplessness, and knowest how eagerly I yearn to look upon Thy face. Dispel the gloom that oppresses my heart, with the light of Thy countenance.” What tears of agonising pain I shed that hour! I was so overcome with emotion that I seemed to have lost consciousness. Suddenly I heard the voice of the Báb, 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 ineffable smile has dissipated the loneliness of my confinement. I am firmly convinced that the hour at which His pledge is to be fulfilled can no longer be delayed.’ I exhorted him to be patient and to conceal his emotions. He promised me not to divulge that secret, and undertook to exercise the utmost forbearance towards Siyyid ‘Alí. I hastened to assure the father of his determination, and succeeded in obtaining his release from his confinement. That youth continued until the day of his martyrdom to associate, in a state of complete serenity and joy, with his parents and kinsmen. Such was his behaviour towards his friends and relatives that, on the day he laid down his life for his Beloved, the people of Tabríz all wept and bewailed him.”



His visit to Urúmíyyih

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

On a certain Friday when the Báb was going to the public bath, the prince, who was curious to test the courage and power of his Guest, ordered his groom to offer Him one of his wildest horses to ride. Apprehensive lest the Báb might suffer any harm, the attendant secretly approached Him and tried to induce Him to refuse to mount a horse that had already overthrown the bravest and most skilful of horsemen. “Fear not,” was His reply. “Do as you have been bidden, and commit Us to the care of the Almighty.” The inhabitants of Urúmíyyih, who had been informed of the intention of the prince, had filled the public square, eager to witness what might befall the Báb. As soon as the horse was brought to Him, He quietly approached it and, taking hold of the bridle which the groom had offered Him, gently caressed it and placed His foot in the stirrup. The horse stood still and motionless beside Him as if conscious of the power which was dominating it. The multitude that watched this most unusual spectacle marvelled at the behaviour of the animal. To their simple minds this extraordinary incident appeared little short of a miracle. They hastened in their enthusiasm to kiss the stirrups of the Báb, but were prevented by the attendants of the prince, who feared lest so great an onrush of people might harm Him. The prince himself, who had accompanied his Guest on foot as far as the vicinity of the bath, was bidden by Him, ere they reached its entrance, to return to his residence. All the way, the prince’s footmen were endeavouring to restrain the people who, from every side, were pressing forward to catch a glimpse of the Báb. Upon His arrival, He dismissed all those who had accompanied Him except the prince’s private attendant and Siyyid Ḥasan, who waited in the antechamber and aided Him in undressing. On His return from the bath, He again mounted the same horse and was acclaimed by the same multitude. The prince came on foot to meet Him, and escorted Him back to his residence.

House Occupied by the Báb The House Occupied by the Báb in Urúmíyyih. The Bálá-Khánih (Upper Room) Marked X is the Room in which He Stayed

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

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

His arrival at Tabríz

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

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

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

Náṣiri’d-Dín as a Child Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh as a Child, Showing Mírzá Abu’l-Qásim, The Qá’im-Maqám on His Right and Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí on His Left. On Extreme Left (Marked X) Stands Manúchihr Khán, the Mu‘tamidu’d-Dawlih

His examination by the ‘ulamás

The detention of the Báb outside the gate of Tabríz failed to allay the excitement which reigned in the city. Every measure of precaution, every restriction, which the authorities had imposed, served only to aggravate a situation which had already become ominous and menacing. Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí issued his orders for the immediate convocation of the ecclesiastical dignitaries of Tabríz in the official residence of the governor of Ádhirbáyján for the express purpose of arraigning the Báb and of seeking the most effective means for the extinction of His influence. Ḥájí Mullá Maḥmúd, entitled the Niẓámu’l-‘Ulamá’, who was the tutor of Náṣiri’d-Dín Mírzá the Valí-‘Ahd, Mullá Muḥammad-i-Mámáqání, Mírzá ‘Alí-Aṣghar the Shaykhu’l-Islám, and a number of the most distinguished shaykhís and doctors of divinity were among those who had convened for that purpose. Náṣiri’d-Dín Mírzá himself attended that gathering. The presidency belonged to the Niẓámu’l-‘Ulamá’, who, as soon as the proceedings had begun, in the name of the assembly commissioned an officer of the army to introduce the Báb into their presence. A multitude of people had meanwhile besieged the entrance of the hall and were impatiently awaiting the time when they could catch a glimpse of His face. They were pressing forward in such large numbers that a passage had to be forced for Him through the crowd that had collected before the gate.

Náṣiri’d-Dín <u>Sh</u>áh Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh

Upon His arrival, the Báb observed that every seat in that hall was occupied except one which had been reserved for the Valí-‘Ahd. He greeted the assembly and, without the slightest hesitation, proceeded to occupy that vacant seat. The majesty of His gait, the expression of overpowering confidence which sat upon His brow — above all, the spirit of power which shone from His whole being, appeared to have for a moment crushed the soul out of the body of those whom He had greeted. A deep, a mysterious silence, suddenly fell upon them. Not one soul in that distinguished assembly dared breathe a single word. At last the stillness which brooded over them was broken by the Niẓámu’l-‘Ulamá’. “Whom do you claim to be,” he asked the Báb, “and what is the message which you have brought?” “I am,” thrice exclaimed the Báb, “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 peoples of both the East and the West to obey My word and to pledge allegiance to My person.” No one ventured to reply except Mullá Muḥammad-i-Mámáqání, a leader of the Shaykhí community who had been himself a disciple of Siyyid Káẓim. It was he on whose unfaithfulness and insincerity the siyyid had tearfully remarked, and the perversity of whose nature he had deplored. Shaykh Ḥasan-i-Zunúzí, who had heard Siyyid Káẓim make these criticisms, recounted to me the following: “I was greatly surprised at the tone of his reference to Mullá Muḥammad, and was curious to know what his future behaviour would be so as to merit such expressions of pity and condemnation from his master. Not until I discovered his attitude that day towards the Báb did I realise the extent of his arrogance and blindness. I was standing together with other people outside the hall, and was able to follow the conversation of those who were within. Mullá Muḥammad was seated on the left hand of the Valí-‘Ahd. The Báb was occupying a seat between them. Immediately after He had declared Himself to be the promised One, a feeling of awe seized those who were present. They had dropped their heads in silent confusion. The pallor of their faces betrayed the agitation of their hearts. Mullá Muḥammad, that one-eyed and white-bearded renegade, insolently reprimanded Him, saying: ‘You wretched and immature lad of Shíráz! You have already convulsed and subverted ‘Iráq; do you now wish to arouse a like turmoil in Ádhirbáyján?’ ‘Your Honour,’ replied the Báb, ‘I have not come hither of My own accord. I have been summoned to this place.’ ‘Hold your peace,’ furiously retorted Mullá Muḥammad, ‘you perverse and contemptible follower of Satan!’ ‘Your Honour,’ the Báb again answered, ‘I maintain what I have already declared.’

Náṣiri’d-Dín <u>Sh</u>áh Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh

Eminent Persian Mujtahids Eminent Persian Mujtahids

“The Niẓámu’l-‘Ulamá’ thought it best to challenge His Mission openly. ‘The claim which you have advanced,’ he told the Báb, ‘is a stupendous one; it must needs be supported by the most incontrovertible evidence.’ ‘The mightiest, the most convincing evidence of the truth of the Mission of the Prophet of God,’ the Báb replied, ‘is admittedly His own Word. He Himself testifies to this truth: “Is it not enough for them that We have sent down to Thee the Book?” The power to produce such evidence has been given to Me by God. Within the space of two days and two nights, I declare Myself able to reveal verses of such number as will equal the whole of the Qur’án.’ ‘Describe orally, if you speak the truth,’ the Niẓámu’l-‘Ulamá’ requested, ‘the proceedings of this gathering in language that will resemble the phraseology of the verses of the Qur’án so that the Valí-‘Ahd and the assembled divines may bear witness to the truth of your claim.’ The Báb readily acceded to his wish. No sooner had He uttered the words, ‘In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, praise be to Him who has created the heaven and the earth,’ than Mullá Muḥammad-i-Mámáqání interrupted and called His attention to an infraction of the rules of grammar. ‘This self-appointed Qá’im of ours,’ he cried in haughty scorn, ‘has at the very start of his address betrayed his ignorance of the most rudimentary rules of grammar!’ ‘The Qur’án itself,’ pleaded the Báb, ‘does in no wise accord with the rules and conventions current amongst men. The Word of God can never be subject to the limitations of His creatures. Nay, the rules and canons which men have adopted have been deduced from the text of the Word of God and are based upon it. These men have, in the very texts of that holy Book, discovered no less than three hundred instances of grammatical error, such as the one you now criticise. Inasmuch as it was the Word of God, they had no other alternative except to resign themselves to His will.’

The Namáz-<u>Kh</u>ánih The Namáz-Khánih of the Shaykhu’l-Islám of Tabríz

Corner Where the Báb was Bastinadoed Corner Marked X Showing Where the Báb was Bastinadoed

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

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

Indignity inflicted upon Him

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

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

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

His return to Chihríq, and His epistle to Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí

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

No sooner had the Báb returned to Chihríq than He wrote in bold and moving language a denunciation of the character and action of Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí. In the opening passages of that epistle, which was given the name of the Khuṭbiy-i-Qahríyyih, the Author addresses the Grand Vazír of Muḥammad Sháh in these terms: “O thou who hast disbelieved in God and hast turned thy face away from His signs!” That lengthy epistle was forwarded to Ḥujjat, who, in those days, was confined in Ṭihrán. He was instructed to deliver it in person to Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí.

I was privileged to hear the following account from the lips of Bahá’u’lláh while in the prison-city of ‘Akká: “Mullá Muḥammad-‘Alíy-i-Zanjání, soon after he had delivered that Tablet to Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí, came and visited me. I was in the company of Mírzá Masíḥ-i-Núrí and a number of other believers when he arrived. He recounted the circumstances attending the delivery of the Tablet, and recited before us the entire text, which was about three pages in length, and which he had committed to memory.” The tone of Bahá’u’lláh’s reference to Ḥujjat indicated how greatly pleased He was with the purity and nobleness of his life, and how much He admired his undaunted courage, his indomitable will, his unworldliness, and his unwavering constancy.



Mullá Ḥusayn’s departure from Mashhad

IN THE same month of Sha‘bán that witnessed the indignities inflicted upon the Báb in Tabríz, and the afflictions which befell Bahá’u’lláh and His companions in Níyálá, Mullá Ḥusayn returned from the camp of Prince Ḥamzih Mírzá to Mashhad, from which place he was to proceed seven days later to Karbilá accompanied by whomsoever he might desire. The prince offered him a sum to defray the expenses of his journey, an offer that he declined, sending the money back with a message requesting him to expend it for the relief of the poor and needy. ‘Abdu’l-‘Alí Khán likewise volunteered to provide all the requirements of Mullá Ḥusayn’s intended pilgrimage, and expressed his eagerness to pay also the expenses of whomsoever he might choose to accompany him. All that he accepted from him was a sword and a horse, both of which he was destined to utilise with consummate bravery and skill in repulsing the assaults of a treacherous enemy.

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

Mullá Ḥusayn was still in Mashhad when a messenger arrived bearing to him the Báb’s turban and conveying the news that a new name, that of Siyyid ‘Alí, had been conferred upon him by his Master. “Adorn your head,” was the message, “with My green turban, the emblem of My lineage, and, with the Black Standard unfurled before you, hasten to the Jazíriy-i-Khaḍrá, and lend your assistance to My beloved Quddús.”

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

Village of Ní<u>sh</u>ápúr Village of Níshápúr

In the town of Níshápúr, Ḥájí ‘Abdu’l-Majíd, the father of Badí‘, who was a merchant of note, enlisted under the banner of Mullá Ḥusayn. Though his father enjoyed an unrivalled prestige as the owner of the best-known turquoise mine of Níshápúr, he, forsaking all the honours and material benefits that his native town had conferred upon him, pledged his undivided loyalty to Mullá Ḥusayn. In the village of Míyámay, thirty among its inhabitants declared their faith and joined that company. All of them with the exception of Mullá ‘Ísá, fell martyrs in the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí.

Death of Muḥammad Sháh

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

View of the Village of Míyámay View of the Village of Míyámay

Exterior of the Masjid Exterior of the Masjid

Interior of the Masjid Interior of the Masjid, Where Mullá Ḥusayn and his Companions Prayed

The Sa‘ídu’l-‘Ulamá’s appeal to the people of Bárfurúsh

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

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

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

Attack by the people of Bárfurúsh on Mullá Ḥusayn and his companions

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

Repulse of the attack by Mullá Ḥusayn

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

I myself, when in Ṭihrán, in the year 1265 A.H., a month after the conclusion of the memorable struggle of Shaykh Ṭabarsí, heard Mírzá Aḥmad relate the circumstances of this incident in the presence of a number of believers, among whom were Mírzá Muḥammad-Ḥusayn-i-Ḥakamíy-i-Kirmání, Ḥájí Mullá Ismá‘íl-i-Faráhání, Mírzá Ḥabíbu’lláh-i-Iṣfahání, and Siyyid Muḥammad-i-Iṣfahání.

Account related by Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Furúghí

When, at a later time, I visited Khurásán and was staying at the home of Mullá Ṣádiq-i-Khurásání in Mashhad, where I had been invited to teach the Cause, I asked Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Furúghí, in the presence of a number of believers, among whom were Nabíl-i-Akbar and the father of Badí‘, to enlighten me regarding the true character of that amazing report. Mírzá Muḥammad emphatically declared: “I myself was a witness to this act of Mullá Ḥusayn. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it.” In this connection, the same Mírzá Muḥammad related to us the following story: “After the engagement of Vás-Kas, when Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá was completely routed, and had fled barefooted from the face of the companions of the Báb, the Amír-Niẓám severely rebuked him. ‘I have charged you,’ he wrote him, ‘with the mission of subduing a handful of young and contemptible students. I have placed at your disposal the army of the Sháh, and yet you have allowed it to suffer such a disgraceful defeat. What would have befallen you, I wonder, had I entrusted you with the mission of defeating the combined forces of the Russian and Ottoman governments?’ The prince thought it best to entrust a messenger with the fragments of the barrel of that same rifle which was cleft in twain by the sword of Mullá Ḥusayn, and to instruct him to present them, in person, to the Amír-Niẓám. ‘Such is,’ was his message to the Amír, ‘the contemptible strength of an adversary who, with a single stroke of his sword, has shattered into six pieces the tree, the musket, and its holder.’

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

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

House of the Sa‘ídu’l-‘Ulamá’ House of the Sa‘ídu’l-‘Ulamá’ in Bárfurúsh, Mázindarán

I ventured to ask Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Furúghí whether he was aware that in the “Násikhu’t-Taváríkh“ mention had been made of the fact that Mullá Ḥusayn had, in his early youth, been instructed in the art of swordsmanship, that he had acquired his proficiency only after a considerable period of training. “This is sheer fabrication,” affirmed Mullá Muḥammad. “I have known him from his childhood, and have been associated with him, as a classmate and friend, for a long time. I have never known him to be possessed of such strength and power. I even deem myself superior in vigour and bodily endurance. His hand trembled as he wrote, and he often expressed his inability to write as fully and as frequently as he wished. He was greatly handicapped in this respect, and he continued to suffer from its effects until his journey to Mázindarán. The moment he unsheathed his sword, however, to repulse that savage attack, a mysterious power seemed to have suddenly transformed him. In all subsequent encounters, he was seen to be the first to spring forward and spur on his charger into the camp of the aggressor. Unaided, he would face and fight the combined forces of his opponents and would himself achieve the victory. We, who followed him in the rear, had to content ourselves with those who had already been disabled and were weakened by the blows they had sustained. His name alone was sufficient to strike terror into the hearts of his adversaries. They fled at mention of him; they trembled at his approach. Even those who were his constant companions were mute with wonder before him. We were stunned by the display of his stupendous force, his indomitable will and complete intrepidity. We were all convinced that he had ceased to be the Mullá Ḥusayn whom we had known, and that in him resided a spirit which God alone could bestow.”

Caravanserai of Sabzih-Maydán

Caravanserai of Sabzih-Maydán

Caravanserai of Sabzih-Maydán Views of the Caravanserai of Sabzih-Maydán in Mázindarán

This same Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Furúghí related to me the following: “Mullá Ḥusayn had no sooner dealt his memorable blow to his adversary than he disappeared from our sight. We knew not whither he had gone. His attendant, Qambar-‘Alí, alone could follow him. He subsequently informed us that his master threw himself headlong upon his enemies, and was able with a single stroke of his sword to strike down each of those who dared assail him. Unmindful of the bullets that rained upon him, he forced his way through the ranks of the enemy and headed for Bárfurúsh. He rode straight to the residence of the Sa‘ídu’l-‘Ulamá’, thrice made the circuit of his house, and cried out: ‘Let that contemptible coward, who has incited the inhabitants of this town to wage holy warfare against us and has ignominiously concealed himself behind the walls of his house, emerge from his inglorious retreat. Let him, by his example, demonstrate the sincerity of his appeal and the righteousness of his cause. Has he forgotten that he who preaches a holy war must needs himself march at the head of his followers, and by his own deeds kindle their devotion and sustain their enthusiasm?’”

Surrender of the people of Bárfurúsh

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

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

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

Renewed attempts by Mullá Ḥusayn’s companions to sound the adhán

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

Sortie from the caravanserai of the Sabzih-Maydán

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

Intercession of the notables of Bárfurúsh

Instructions given to Khusraw-i-Qádí-Kalá’í

So startling a victory induced a number of the nobles and chiefs of the people to intervene and beseech the mercy of Mullá Ḥusayn on behalf of their fellow-citizens. They came on foot to submit to him their petition. “God is our witness,” they pleaded, “that we harbour no intention but that of establishing peace and reconciliation between us. Remain seated on your charger for a while, until we have explained our motive.” Observing the earnestness of their appeal, Mullá Ḥusayn dismounted and invited them to join him in the caravanserai. “We, unlike the people of this town, know how to receive the stranger in our midst,” he said, as he invited them to be seated beside him and ordered that they be served with tea. “The Sa‘ídu’l-‘Ulamá’,” they replied, “was alone responsible for having kindled the fire of so much mischief. The people of Bárfurúsh should in no wise be implicated in the crime which he has committed. Let the past be now forgotten. We would suggest, in the interest of both parties, that you and your companions leave to-morrow for Ámul. Bárfurúsh is in the throes of great excitement; we fear lest they may again be instigated to attack you.” Mullá Ḥusayn, though hinting at the insincerity of the people, consented to their proposal; whereupon ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Láríjání and Ḥájí Muṣṭafá Khán arose together and, swearing by the Qur’án which they had brought with them, solemnly declared their intention to regard them as their guests that night, and the following day to instruct Khusraw-i-Qádí-Kalá’í and a hundred horsemen to ensure their safe passage through Shír-Gáh. “The malediction of God and His Prophets be upon us, both in this world and in the next,” they added, “if we ever allow the slightest injury to be inflicted upon you and your party.”

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

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

At the hour of sunrise, ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán asked that Khusraw be conducted into his presence, and bade him exercise the utmost consideration towards Mullá Ḥusayn and his companions, to ensure their safe passage through Shír-Gáh, and to refuse whatever rewards they might wish to offer him. Khusraw feigned submission to these instructions and assured him that neither he nor his horsemen would relax in their vigilance or flinch in their devotion to them. “On our return,” he added, “we shall show you his own written expression of satisfaction with the services we shall have rendered him.”

When Khusraw was taken by ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán and Ḥájí Muṣṭafá Khán and other representative leaders of Bárfurúsh into the presence of Mullá Ḥusayn and was introduced to him, the latter remarked: “‘If ye do well, it will redound to your own advantage; and if ye do evil, the evil will return upon you.” If this man should treat us well, great shall be his reward; and if he act treacherously towards us, great shall be his punishment. To God would we commit our Cause, and to His will are we wholly resigned.”

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

Incident in the forest of Mázindarán

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

Mullá Ḥusayn was still in the act of prayer when the cry of “Yá Ṣáḥibu’z-Zamán” was raised again by his companions. They threw themselves upon their treacherous assailants and in one onslaught struck them all down except the attendant who had prepared the qalyán. Affrighted and defenceless, he fell at the feet of Mullá Ḥusayn and implored his aid. He was given the bejewelled qalyán which belonged to his master and was bidden to return to Bárfurúsh and recount to ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán all that he had witnessed. “Tell him,” said Mullá Ḥusayn, “how faithfully Khusraw discharged his mission. That false miscreant foolishly imagined that my mission had come to an end, that both my sword and my horse had fulfilled their function. Little did he know that their work had but just begun, that until the services which they can render are entirely accomplished, neither his power nor the power of any man beside him can wrest them from me.”

Arrival at the shrine of Shaykh Ṭabarsí

As the night was approaching, the party decided to tarry in that spot until the hour of dawn. At daybreak, after Mullá Ḥusayn had offered his prayer, he gathered his companions together and said: “We are approaching our Karbilá, our ultimate destination.” Immediately after, he set out on foot towards that spot, and was followed by his companions. Finding that a few were attempting to carry with them the belongings of Khusraw and of his men, he ordered them to leave everything behind except their swords and horses. “It behoves you,” he urged them, “to arrive at that hallowed spot in a state of complete detachment, wholly sanctified from all that pertains to this world.” He had walked the distance of a maydán when he arrived at the shrine of Shaykh Ṭabarsí. The Shaykh had been one of the transmitters of the traditions ascribed to the imáms of the Faith, and his burial-place was visited by the people of the neighbourhood. On reaching that spot, he recited the following verse of the Qur’án: “O my Lord, bless Thou my arrival at this place, for Thou alone canst vouchsafe such blessings.”

Shrine of <u>Sh</u>ay<u>kh</u> Ṭabarsí The Shrine of Shaykh Ṭabarsí

Dream of the guardian of the shrine of Shaykh Ṭabarsí

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

Tomb of <u>Sh</u>ay<u>kh</u> Ṭabarsí The Tomb of the Shaykh Ṭabarsí

Site of Fort Site of the Fort that Enclosed the Shrine

Attack and repulse of the horsemen of Qádí-Kalá

On the very day of their arrival, which was the fourteenth of Dhi’l-Qa‘dih, Mullá Ḥusayn gave Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir, who had built the Bábíyyih, the preliminary instructions regarding the design of the fort which was to be constructed for their defence. Towards the evening of the same day, they found themselves suddenly encompassed by an irregular multitude of horsemen who had emerged from the forest and were preparing to open fire upon them. “We are of the inhabitants of Qádí-Kalá,” they shouted. “We come to avenge the blood of Khusraw. Not until we have put you all to the sword shall we be satisfied.” Besieged by a savage crowd ready to pounce upon them, the party had to draw their swords again in self-defence. Raising the cry of “Yá Ṣáḥibu’z-Zamán,” they leaped forward, repulsed the assailants, and put them to flight. So tremendous was the shout, that the horsemen vanished as suddenly as they had appeared. Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqíy-i-Juvayní had, at his own request, assumed the command of that encounter.

Entrance of the Shrine Entrance of the Shrine of Shaykh Ṭabarsí

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

Naẓar Khán, who in the meantime had concealed himself in his house, was convinced of the sincerity of the regrets expressed by Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí. Though suffering from this grievous loss, he was moved to call upon him and to invite him to his home. He even asked Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí to introduce him to Mullá Ḥusayn, and expressed a keen desire to be made acquainted with the precepts of a Cause that could kindle such fervour in the breasts of its adherents.

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

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

Plans and Sketches of  Ṭabarsí Plans and Sketches of the Fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí

Visit of Bahá’u’lláh to the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí

The work had scarcely been completed when Shaykh Abú-Turáb arrived bearing the news of Bahá’u’lláh’s arrival at the village of Naẓar Khán. He informed Mullá Ḥusayn that he had been specially commanded by Bahá’u’lláh to inform them that they all were to be His guests that night and that He Himself would join them that same afternoon. I have heard Mullá Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Furúghí recount the following: “The tidings which Shaykh Abú-Turáb brought imparted an indefinable joy to the heart of Mullá Ḥusayn. He hastened immediately to his companions and bade them bestir themselves for the reception of Bahá’u’lláh. He himself joined them in sweeping and sprinkling with water the approaches to the shrine, and attended in person to whatever was necessary for the arrival of the beloved Visitor. As soon as he saw Him approaching with Naẓar Khán, he rushed forward, tenderly embraced Him, and conducted Him to the place of honour which he had reserved for His reception. We were too blind in those days to recognise the glory of Him whom our leader had introduced with such reverence and love into our midst. What Mullá Ḥusayn had perceived, our dull vision was as yet unable to recognise. With what solicitude he received Him in his arms! What feelings of rapturous delight filled his heart on seeing Him! He was so lost in admiration that he was utterly oblivious of us all. His soul was so wrapt in contemplation of that countenance that we who were awaiting his permission to be seated were kept standing a long time beside him. It was Bahá’u’lláh Himself who finally bade us be seated. We, too, were soon made to feel, however inadequately, the charm of His utterance, though none of us were even dimly aware of the infinite potency latent in His words.

Liberation of Quddús

Bahá’u’lláh, in the course of that visit, inspected the fort and expressed His satisfaction with the work that had been accomplished. In His conversation with Mullá Ḥusayn, He explained in detail such matters as were vital to the welfare and safety of his companions. ‘The one thing this fort and company require,’ He said, ‘is the presence of Quddús. His association with this company would render it complete and perfect.’ He instructed Mullá Ḥusayn to despatch Mullá Mihdíy-i-Khu’í with six people to Sárí, and to demand of Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí that he immediately deliver Quddús into their hands. ‘The fear of God and the dread of His punishment,’ He assured Mullá Ḥusayn, ‘will prompt him to surrender unhesitatingly his captive.’

“Ere He departed, Bahá’u’lláh enjoined them to be patient and resigned to the will of the Almighty. ‘If it be His will,’ He added, ‘We shall once again visit you at this same spot, and shall lend you Our assistance. You have been chosen of God to be the vanguard of His host and the establishers of His Faith. His host verily will conquer. Whatever may befall, victory is yours, a victory which is complete and certain.’ With these words, He committed those valiant companions to the care of God, and returned to the village with Naẓar Khán and Shaykh Abú-Turáb. From thence He departed by way of Núr to Ṭihrán.”

Mullá Ḥusayn set out immediately to carry out the instructions he had received. Summoning Mullá Mihdí, he bade him proceed together with six other companions to Sárí and ask that the mujtahid liberate his prisoner. As soon as the message was conveyed to him, Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí unconditionally acceded to their request. The potency with which that message had been endowed seemed to have completely disarmed him. “I have regarded him,” he hastened to assure the messengers, “only as an honoured guest in my house. It would be unbecoming of me to pretend to have dismissed or released him. He is at liberty to do as he desires. Should he wish it, I would be willing to accompany him.”

House of Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí House of Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí, the Mujtahid, in Sárí, Mázindarán

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

Reference to the Black Standards

The incarceration of Quddús in the home of Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí, Sárí’s most eminent mujtahid, to whom he was related, lasted five and ninety days. Though confined, Quddús was treated with marked deference, and was allowed to receive most of the companions who had been present at the gathering of Badasht. To none, however, did he grant permission to stay in Sárí. Whoever visited him was urged, in the most pressing terms, to enlist under the Black Standard hoisted by Mullá Ḥusayn. It was the same standard of which Muḥammad, the Prophet of God, had thus spoken: “Should your eyes behold the Black Standards proceeding from Khurásán, hasten ye towards them, even though ye should have to crawl over the snow, inasmuch as they proclaim the advent of the promised Mihdí, the Vicegerent of God.” That standard was unfurled at the command of the Báb, in the name of Quddús, and by the hands of Mullá Ḥusayn. It was carried aloft all the way from the city of Mashhad to the shrine of Shaykh Ṭabarsí. For eleven months, from the beginning of Sha‘bán in the year 1264 A.H. to the end of Jamádíyu’th-Thání, in the year 1265 A.H., that earthly emblem of an unearthly sovereignty waved continually over the heads of that small and valiant band, summoning the multitude who gazed upon it to renounce the world and to espouse the Cause of God.

Confinement of Quddús in the house of Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí

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

Arrival of Quddús at the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí

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

Account related by Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Furúghí

In this manner they reached the shrine of Shaykh Ṭabarsí. The first words that fell from the lips of Quddús after he had dismounted and leaned against the shrine were the following: “The Baqíyyatu’lláh will be best for you if ye are of those who believe.” By this utterance was fulfilled the prophecy of Muḥammad as recorded in the following tradition: “And when the Mihdí is made manifest, He shall lean His back against the Ka‘bih and shall address to the three hundred and thirteen followers who will have grouped around Him, these words: ‘The Baqíyyatu’lláh will be best for you if ye are of those who believe.’” By “Baqíyyatu’lláh” Quddús meant none other than Bahá’u’lláh. To this testified Mullá Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Furúghí, who related to me the following: “I myself was present when Quddús alighted from his horse. I saw him lean against the shrine and heard him utter those same words. No sooner had he spoken them than he made mention of Bahá’u’lláh and, turning to Mullá Ḥusayn, enquired about Him. He was informed that unless God decreed to the contrary, He had signified His intention to return to this place before the first day of Muḥarram.

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

“Many a night I saw Mullá Ḥusayn circle round the shrine within the precincts of which Quddús lay asleep. How often did I see him emerge in the mid-watches of the night from his chamber and quietly direct his steps to that spot and whisper the same verse with which we all had greeted the arrival of the beloved visitor! With what feelings of emotion I can still remember him as he advanced towards me, in the stillness of those dark and lonely hours which I devoted to meditation and prayer, whispering in my ears these words: ‘Banish from your mind, O Mullá Mírzá Muḥammad, these perplexing subtleties and, freed from their trammels, arise and seek with me to quaff the cup of martyrdom. Then will you be able to comprehend, as the year ’80 dawns upon the world, the secret of the things which now lie hidden from you.’”

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

Incidents in the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí concerning Quddús

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

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

The knowledge and sagacity which Quddús displayed on those occasions, the confidence with which he spoke, and the resource and enterprise which he demonstrated in the instructions he gave to his companions, reinforced his authority and enhanced his prestige. These at first supposed that the profound reverence which Mullá Ḥusayn showed towards him was dictated by the exigencies of the situation rather than prompted by a spontaneous feeling of devotion to his person. His own writings and general behaviour gradually dispelled such doubts and served to establish him still more firmly in the esteem of his companions. In the days of his confinement in the town of Sárí, Quddús, whom Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí had requested to write a commentary on the Súrih of Ikhláṣ, better known as the Súrih of Qul Huva’lláhu’l-Aḥad, composed, in his interpretation of the Ṣád of Ṣamad alone, a treatise which was thrice as voluminous as the Qur’án itself. That exhaustive and masterly exposition had profoundly impressed Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí and had been responsible for the marked consideration which he showed towards Quddús, although in the end he joined the Sa‘ídu’l-‘Ulamá’ in compassing the death of the heroic martyrs of Shaykh Ṭabarsí. Quddús continued, while besieged in that fort, to write his commentary on that Súrih, and was able, despite the vehemence of the enemy’s onslaught, to pen as many verses as he had previously written in Sárí in his interpretation of that same letter. The rapidity and copiousness of his composition, the inestimable treasures which his writings revealed, filled his companions with wonder and justified his leadership in their eyes. They read eagerly the pages of that commentary which Mullá Ḥusayn brought to them each day and to which he paid his share of tribute.

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

The Sa‘ídu’l-‘Ulamá’s appeal to Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh

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

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

Village of Afrá Village of Afrá

Encampment of the army of ‘Abdu’lláh Khán-i-Turkamán near the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí

The Sháh gave his consent, and issued his farmán to that same ‘Abdu’lláh Khán, bidding him to recruit without delay, from any part of his realm, the forces he might require for the execution of his purpose. He sent with his message a royal badge, which he bestowed upon him as a mark of confidence in his capacity to undertake that task. The receipt of the imperial farmán and the token of the honour which his sovereign had conferred upon him nerved him to fresh resolve to carry out his mission befittingly. Within a short space of time, he had raised an army of about twelve thousand men, composed largely of the Usanlú, the Afghán, and the Kúdár communities. He equipped them with whatever ammunition was required, and stationed them in the village of Afrá, which was the property of Naẓar Khán, and which commanded the fort of Ṭabarsí. No sooner had he fixed his camp upon that eminence than he set out to intercept the bread which was being daily conveyed to the companions of Mullá Ḥusayn. Even water was soon to be denied them, as it became impossible for the besieged to leave the fort under the fire of the enemy.

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

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

Village of <u>Sh</u>ír-Gáh Village of Shír-Gáh

First sortie from the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí

As the hour of the attack approached for which that numerous army, despite the losses it had sustained, was strenuously preparing, Quddús determined to sally out and scatter its forces. Two hours after sunrise, he mounted his steed and, escorted by Mullá Ḥusayn and three other of his companions, all of whom were riding beside him, marched out of the gate, followed by the entire company on foot behind them. As soon as they had emerged, there pealed out the cry of “Yá Ṣáḥibu’z-Zamán!” — a cry that diffused consternation through the camp of the enemy. The roar which these lion-hearted followers of the Báb raised amidst the forest of Mázindarán dispersed the affrighted enemy that lay in ambush within its recesses. The glitter of their bared weapons dazzled their sight, and its menace was sufficient to stun and overpower them. They fled in disgraceful rout before their onrush, leaving all possessions behind them. Within the space of forty-five minutes, the shout of victory had been raised. Quddús and Mullá Ḥusayn had succeeded in bringing under their control the remnants of the defeated army. ‘Abdu’lláh Khán-i-Turkamán, with two of his officers, Ḥabíbu’lláh Khán-i-Afghán and Núru’lláh Khán-i-Afghán, together with no less than four hundred and thirty of their men, had perished.

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

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

Message of Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá to Mullá Ḥusayn

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

Village of Ríz-Áb Village of Ríz-Áb

Village of Fírúz-Kúh Village of Fírúz-Kúh

Village of <u>Sh</u>ír-Gáh Village of Vás-Kas

Soon after the work was completed, it was announced that Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá was advancing towards the fort at the head of a numerous army, and had actually encamped at Shír-Gáh. A few days later, he had transferred his headquarters to Vás-Kas. On his arrival, he sent one of his men to inform Mullá Ḥusayn that he had been commanded by the Sháh to ascertain the purpose of his activities and to request that he be enlightened as to the object he had in view. “Tell your master,” Mullá Ḥusayn replied, “that we utterly disclaim any intention either of subverting the foundations of the monarchy or of usurping the authority of Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh. Our Cause concerns the revelation of the promised Qá’im and is primarily associated with the interests of the ecclesiastical order of this country. We can set forth incontrovertible arguments and deduce infallible proofs in support of the truth of the Message we bear.” The passionate sincerity with which Mullá Ḥusayn pleaded in defence of his Cause, and the details which he cited to demonstrate the validity of his claims, touched the heart of the messenger and brought tears to his eyes. “What are we to do?” he exclaimed. “Let the prince,” Mullá Ḥusayn replied, “direct the ‘ulamás of both Sárí and Bárfurúsh to betake themselves to this place, and ask us to demonstrate the validity of the Revelation proclaimed by the Báb. Let the Qur’án decide as to who speaks the truth. Let the prince himself judge our case and pronounce the verdict. Let him also decide as to how he should treat us if we fail to establish, by the aid of verses and traditions, the truth of this Cause.” The messenger expressed his complete satisfaction with the answer he had received, and promised that before the lapse of three days the ecclesiastical dignitaries would be convened in the manner he had suggested.

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

Second sortie from the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí

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

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

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

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

Injury sustained by Quddús

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

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

Bahá’u’lláh’s attempt to join the occupants of the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí

This memorable engagement fell on the twenty-fifth of Muḥarram, 1265 A.H. In the beginning of that same month, Bahá’u’lláh, faithful to the promise He had given to Mullá Ḥusayn, set out, attended by a number of His friends, from Núr for the fort of Ṭabarsí. Among those who accompanied Him were Ḥájí Mírzá Jáníy-i-Káshání, Mullá Báqir-i-Tabrízí, one of the Letters of the Living, and Mírzá Yaḥyá, His brother. Bahá’u’lláh had signified His wish that they should proceed directly to their destination and allow no pause in their journey. His intention was to reach that spot at night, inasmuch as strict orders had been issued, ever since ‘Abdu’lláh Khán had assumed the command, that no help should be extended, under any circumstances, to the occupants of the fort. Guards had been stationed at different places to ensure the isolation of the besieged. His companions, however, pressed Him to interrupt the journey and to seek a few hours of rest. Although He knew that this delay would involve a grave risk of being surprised by the enemy, He yielded to their earnest request. They halted at a lonely house adjoining the road. After supper, his companions all retired to sleep. He alone, despite the hardships He had endured, remained wakeful. He knew well the perils to which He and His friends were exposed, and was fully aware of the possibilities which His early arrival at the fort involved.

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

At daybreak, as they were approaching the town, a message was sent in advance to the acting governor, informing him of the arrival of a party that had been captured on their way to the fort of Ṭabarsí. The governor himself, together with the members of his body-guard, had been appointed to join the army of Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá, and had commissioned his kinsman to act in his absence. As soon as the message reached him, he went to the masjid of Ámul and summoned the ‘ulamás and leading siyyids of the town to gather and meet the party. He was greatly surprised as soon as his eyes saw and recognised Bahá’u’lláh, and deeply regretted the orders he had given. He feigned to reprimand Him for the action He had taken, in the hope of appeasing the tumult and allaying the excitement of those who had gathered in the masjid. “We are innocent,” Bahá’u’lláh declared, “of the guilt they impute to us. Our blamelessness will eventually be established in your eyes. I would advise you to act in a manner that will cause you eventually no regret.” The acting governor asked the ‘ulamás who were present to put any question they desired. To their enquiries Bahá’u’lláh returned explicit and convincing replies. As they were interrogating Him, they discovered a manuscript in the possession of one of His companions which they recognised as the writings of the Báb and which they handed to the chief of the ‘ulamás present at that gathering. As soon as he had perused a few lines of that manuscript, he laid it aside and, turning to those around him, exclaimed: “These people, who advance such extravagant claims, have, in this very sentence which I have read, betrayed their ignorance of the most rudimentary rules of orthography.” “Esteemed and learned divine,” Bahá’u’lláh replied, “these words which you criticise are not the words of the Báb. They have been uttered by no less a personage than the Imám ‘Alí, the Commander of the Faithful, in his reply to Kumayl-ibn-i-Zíyád, whom he had chosen as his companion.”

View of Ámul View of Ámul

House of the Governor of Ámul House of the Governor of Ámul

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

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

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

The same treatment that had been meted out to the Báb five months previously in Tabríz, Bahá’u’lláh suffered in the presence of the assembled ‘ulamás of Ámul. The first confinement that the Báb suffered at the hands of His enemies was in the house of ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd Khán, the chief constable of Shíráz; the first confinement of Bahá’u’lláh was in the home of one of the kad-khudás of Ṭihrán. The Báb’s second imprisonment was in the castle of Máh-Kú; that of Bahá’u’lláh was in the private residence of the governor of Ámul. The Báb was scourged in the namáz-khánih of the Shaykhu’l-Islám of Tabríz; the same indignity was inflicted on Bahá’u’lláh in the namáz-khánih of the mujtahid of Ámul. The Báb’s third confinement was in the castle of Chihríq; Bahá’u’lláh’s was in the Síyáh-Chál of Ṭihrán. The Báb, whose trials and sufferings had preceded, in almost every case, those of Bahá’u’lláh, had offered Himself to ransom His Beloved from the perils that beset that precious Life; whilst Bahá’u’lláh, on His part, unwilling that He who so greatly loved Him should be the sole Sufferer, shared at every turn the cup that had touched His lips. Such love no eye has ever beheld, nor has mortal heart conceived such mutual devotion. If the branches of every tree were turned into pens, and all the seas into ink, and earth and heaven rolled into one parchment, the immensity of that love would still remain unexplored, and the depths of that devotion unfathomed.

Where Opening was Made in the Wall Mark X Shows Place Where Opening was Made in the Wall

Masjid of Ámul Views of the Masjid of Ámul

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

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

I have heard Bahá’u’lláh Himself recount the following: “No prisoner has ever been accorded the treatment which I received at the hands of the acting governor of Ámul. He treated Me with the utmost consideration and esteem. I was generously entertained by him, and the fullest attention was given to everything that affected My security and comfort. I was, however, unable to leave the gate of the house. My host was afraid lest the governor, who was related to ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Láríjání, might return from the fort of Ṭabarsí and inflict injury upon Me. I tried to dispel his apprehensions. ‘The same Omnipotence,’ I assured him, ‘who has delivered us from the hands of the mischief-makers of Ámul, and has enabled us to be received with such hospitality by you in this house, is able to change the heart of the governor and to cause him to treat us with no less consideration and love.’

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

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

Reference to Bahá’u’lláh’s activities prior to the declaration of His Mission

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

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



THE forces under the command of Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá meanwhile had recovered from the state of utter demoralisation into which they had sunk, and were now diligently preparing to renew their attack upon the occupants of the fort of Ṭabarsí. The latter found themselves again encompassed by a numerous host, at the head of which marched ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Láríjání and Sulaymán Khán-i-Afshár-i-Shahríyárí, who, together with several regiments of infantry and cavalry, had hastened to reinforce the company of the prince’s soldiers. Their combined forces encamped in the neighbourhood of the fort, and proceeded to erect a series of seven barricades around it. With the utmost arrogance, they sought at first to display the extent of the forces at their command, and indulged with increasing zest in the daily exercise of their arms.

The scarcity of water had, in the meantime, compelled those who were besieged to dig a well within the enclosure of the fort. On the day the work was to be completed, the eighth day of the month of Rabí‘u’l-Avval, Mullá Ḥusayn, who was watching his companions perform this task, remarked: “To-day we shall have all the water we require for our bath. Cleansed of all earthly defilements, we shall seek the court of the Almighty, and shall hasten to our eternal abode. Whoso is willing to partake of the cup of martyrdom, let him prepare himself and wait for the hour when he can seal with his life-blood his faith in his Cause. This night, ere the hour of dawn, let those who wish to join me be ready to issue forth from behind these walls and, scattering once again the dark forces which have beset our path, ascend untrammelled to the heights of glory.”

Third sortie, and fall of Mullá Ḥusayn

That same afternoon, Mullá Ḥusayn performed his ablutions, clothed himself in new garments, attired his head with the Báb’s turban, and prepared for the approaching encounter. An undefinable joy illumined his face. He serenely alluded to the hour of his departure, and continued to his last moments to animate the zeal of his companions. Alone with Quddús, who so powerfully reminded him of his Beloved, he poured forth, as he sat at his feet in the closing moments of his earthly life, all that an enraptured soul could no longer restrain. Soon after midnight, as soon as the morning-star had risen, the star that heralded to him the dawning light of eternal reunion with his Beloved, he started to his feet and, mounting his charger, gave the signal that the gate of the fort be opened. As he rode out at the head of three hundred and thirteen of his companions to meet the enemy, the cry of “Yá Ṣáḥibu’z-Zamán!” again broke forth, a cry so intense and powerful that forest, fort, and camp vibrated to its resounding echo.

Tree from which Mullá Ḥusayn was Shot Tree from which Mullá Ḥusayn was Shot

Mullá Ḥusayn first charged the barricade which was defended by Zakaríyyáy-i-Qádí-Kalá’í, one of the enemy’s most valiant officers. Within a short space of time, he had broken through that barrier, disposed of its commander, and scattered his men. Dashing forward with the same swiftness and intrepidity, he overcame the resistance of both the second and third barricades, diffusing, as he advanced, despair and consternation among his foes. Undeterred by the bullets which rained continually upon him and his companions, they pressed forward until the remaining barricades had all been captured and overthrown. In the midst of the tumult which ensued, ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Láríjání had climbed a tree, and, hiding himself in its branches, lay waiting in ambush for his opponents. Protected by the darkness which surrounded him, he was able to follow from his hiding place the movements of Mullá Ḥusayn and his companions, who were exposed to the fierce glare of the conflagration which they had raised. The steed of Mullá Ḥusayn suddenly became entangled in the rope of an adjoining tent, and ere he was able to extricate himself, he was struck in the breast by a bullet from his treacherous assailant. Though the shot was successful, ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán was unaware of the identity of the horseman he had wounded. Mullá Ḥusayn, who was bleeding profusely, dismounted from his horse, staggered a few steps, and, unable to proceed further, fell exhausted upon the ground. Two of his young companions, of Khurásán, Qulí, and Ḥasan, came to his rescue and bore him to the fort.

Mullá Ḥusayn’s last moments

I have heard the following account from Mullá Ṣádiq and Mullá Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Furúghí: “We were among those who had remained in the fort with Quddús. As soon as Mullá Ḥusayn, who seemed to have lost consciousness, was brought in, we were ordered to retire. ‘Leave me alone with him,’ were the words of Quddús as he bade Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir close the door and refuse admittance to anyone desiring to see him. ‘There are certain confidential matters which I desire him alone to know.’ We were amazed a few moments later when we heard the voice of Mullá Ḥusayn replying to questions from Quddús. For two hours they continued to converse with each other. We were surprised to see Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir so greatly agitated. ‘I was watching Quddús,’ he subsequently informed us, ‘through a fissure in the door. As soon as he called his name, I saw Mullá Ḥusayn arise and seat himself, in his customary manner, on bended knees beside him. With bowed head and downcast eyes, he listened to every word that fell from the lips of Quddús, and answered his questions. “You have hastened the hour of your departure,” I was able to hear Quddús remark, “and have abandoned me to the mercy of my foes. Please God, I will ere long join you and taste the sweetness of heaven’s ineffable delights.” I was able to gather the following words uttered by Mullá Ḥusayn: “May my life be a ransom for you. Are you well pleased with me?”’

“A long time elapsed before Quddús bade Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir open the door and admit his companions. ‘I have bade my last farewell to him,’ he said, as we entered the room. ‘Things which previously I deemed it unallowable to utter I have now shared with him.’ We found on our arrival that Mullá Ḥusayn had expired. A faint smile still lingered upon his face. Such was the peacefulness of his countenance that he seemed to have fallen asleep. Quddús attended to his burial, clothed him in his own shirt, and gave instructions to lay him to rest to the south of, and adjoining, the shrine of Shaykh Ṭabarsí. ‘Well is it with you to have remained to your last hour faithful to the Covenant of God,’ he said, as he laid a parting kiss upon his eyes and forehead. ‘I pray God to grant that no division ever be caused between you and me.’ He spoke with such poignancy that the seven companions who were standing beside him wept profusely, and wished they had been sacrificed in his stead. Quddús, with his own hands, laid the body in the tomb, and cautioned those who were standing near him to maintain secrecy regarding the spot which served as his resting place, and to conceal it even from their companions. He afterwards instructed them to inter the bodies of the thirty-six martyrs who had fallen in the course of that engagement in one and the same grave on the northern side of the shrine of Shaykh Ṭabarsí. ‘Let the loved ones of God,’ he was heard to remark as he consigned them to their tomb, ‘take heed of the example of these martyrs of our Faith. Let them in life be and remain as united as these are now in death.’”

No less than ninety of the companions were wounded that night, most of whom succumbed. From the day of their arrival at Bárfurúsh to the day they were first attacked, which fell on the twelfth of Dhi’l-Qa‘dih in the year 1264 A.H., to the day of the death of Mullá Ḥusayn, which took place at the hour of dawn on the ninth of Rabí‘u’l-Avval in the year 1265 A.H., the number of martyrs, according to the computation of Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir, had reached a total of seventy-two.

Reference to his burial and achievements

From the time when Mullá Ḥusayn was assailed by his enemies to the time of his martyrdom was a hundred and sixteen days, a period rendered memorable by deeds so heroic that even his bitterest foes felt bound to confess their wonder. On four distinct occasions, he rose to such heights of courage and power as few indeed could attain. The first encounter took place on the twelfth of Dhi’l-Qa‘dih, in the outskirts of Bárfurúsh; the second, in the immediate neighbourhood of the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí, on the fifth day of the month of Muḥarram, against the forces of ‘Abdu’lláh Khán-i-Turkamán; the third, in Vás-Kas, on the twenty-fifth day of Muḥarram, directed against the army of Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá. The last and most memorable battle of all was directed against the combined forces of ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán, of Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá, and of Sulaymán Khán-i-Afshár, assisted by a company of forty-five officers of tried ability and matured experience. From each of these hot and fierce engagements Mullá Ḥusayn emerged, in spite of the overwhelming forces arrayed against him, unscathed and triumphant. In each encounter he distinguished himself by such acts of valour, of chivalry, of skill, and of strength that each one would alone suffice to establish for all time the transcendent character of a Faith for the protection of which he had so valiantly fought, and in the path of which he had so nobly died. The traits of mind and of character which, from his very youth, he displayed, the profundity of his learning, the tenacity of his faith, his intrepid courage, his singleness of purpose, his high sense of justice and unswerving devotion, marked him as an outstanding figure among those who, by their lives, have borne witness to the glory and power of the new Revelation. He was six and thirty years old when he quaffed the cup of martyrdom. At the age of eighteen he made the acquaintance, in Karbilá, of Siyyid Káẓim-i-Rashtí. For nine years he sat at his feet, and imbibed the lesson which was destined to prepare him for the acceptance of the Message of the Báb. The nine remaining years of his life were spent in the midst of a restless, a feverish activity which carried him eventually to the field of martyrdom, in circumstances that have shed imperishable lustre upon his country’s history.

Quddús' warning to his companions

So complete and humiliating a rout paralysed for a time the efforts of the enemy. Five and forty days passed before they could again reassemble their forces and renew their attack. During these intervening days, which ended with the day of Naw-Rúz, the intense cold which prevailed induced them to defer their venture against an opponent that had covered them with so much reproach and shame. Though their attacks had been suspended, the officers in charge of the remnants of the imperial army had given strict orders prohibiting the arrival of all manner of reinforcements at the fort. When the supply of their provisions was nearly exhausted, Quddús instructed Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir to distribute among his companions the rice which Mullá Ḥusayn had stored for such time as might be required. When each had received his portion, Quddús summoned them and said: “Whoever feels himself strong enough to withstand the calamities that are soon to befall us, let him remain with us in this fort. And whoever perceives in himself the least hesitation and fear, let him betake himself away from this place. Let him leave immediately ere the enemy has again assembled his forces and assailed us. The way will soon be barred before our face; we shall very soon encounter the severest hardship and fall a victim to devastating afflictions.”

Betrayal by Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Mutavallí

The very night Quddús had given this warning, a siyyid from Qum, Mírz