The Dawn-Breakers - Nabíls Narrative of the Early Days of the Bahá’í Revelation

Shoghi Effendi

The Dawn-Breakers: Nabíl’s Narrative of the Early Days of the Bahá’í Revelation

The Dawn-Breakers: Nabíl’s Narrative of the Early Days of the Bahá’í Revelation




















[Introductory Note]






































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.




Library of Congress Catalog No. 32–8946

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 Gratitude and Love


      • Arrival of Quddús in Shíráz


      • His letter to Manúchihr Khán

        • b. His visit to Ṭihrán


      • Reference to his burial and achievements

      • Division of labour in the fort

      • Despatch of the Amír-Tumán with further reinforcements


FRONTISPIECE The Inmost Shrine of the Báb


First Letter of the Living

Mullá Ḥusayn-i-Bushrú’í

Second Letter of the Living

Muḥammad Ḥasan (His Brother)

Third Letter of the Living

Muḥammad-Báqir (His Nephew)

Fourth Letter of the Living

Mullá ‘Alíy-i-Bastamí

Fifth Letter of the Living

Mullá Khudá-Bakhsh-i-Quchání (later named Mullá ‘Alí)

Sixth Letter of the Living

Mullá Ḥasan-i-Bajistání

Seventh Letter of the Living

Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Yazdí

Eighth Letter of the Living

Mírzá Muḥammad Rawdih-Khán-i-Yazdí

Ninth Letter of the Living


Tenth Letter of the Living

Mullá Maḥmúd-i-Khú’í

Eleventh Letter of the Living

Mullá Jalíl-i-Urúmí

Twelfth Letter of the Living

Mullá Aḥmad-i-Ibdal-i-Marághi’í

Thirteenth Letter of the Living

Mullá Báqir-i-Tabrízí

Fourteenth Letter of the Living

Mullá Yusif-i-Ardibílí

Fifteenth Letter of the Living

Mírzá Hádí (Son of Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb-i-Qazvíní)

Sixteenth Letter of the Living

Mírzá Muḥammad-i ‘Alíy-i-Qazvíní

Seventeenth Letter of the Living


Eighteenth Letter of the Living


Nineteenth Letter of the Living

The Báb Himself

Twentieth Letter of the Living

Bahá’u’lláh “Him Who Will Be Made Manifest”

Muḥammad-i-Zarandí surnamed Nabíl-i-‘Aẓam Opposite page lxiii Shaykh Aḥmad-i-Ahsá’í Opposite page 1General View of Najaf 3Fatḥ-‘Alí Sháh and Sons 6Painting of Mírzá Buzurg (Father of Bahá’u’lláh) 11View of Karbilá 26Entrance to the Shrine of Imám Ḥusayn in Karbilá 28Shrine of Imám Ḥusayn in Karbilá 29View of Kazímayn 41Section of the Masjid-i-Baratha 43Site of Siyyid Káẓim’s Resting Place (tombstone now removed) 44Home of Mullá Ḥusayn in Bushrúyih 49Views of the Masjid-i-Ílkhání 51General View of Shíráz 52Room in the Masjid-i-Ílkhání, Shíráz, in which the Báb and Mullá Ḥusayn met 53Orange Tree Planted by the Báb in the Courtyard of His House in Shíráz 54The Báb’s Brazier and Samovar 55The Room where the Báb was born in Shíráz 56Outskirts of Shíráz where the Báb went to walk 58Views of the Upper Room of the Báb’s House in Shíráz where He Declared His Mission 58Views of the Báb’s House in Shíráz, showing His Bed Chamber, His Mother’s Room, His Sitting Room 60Views of the Báb’s House in Shíráz where He Declared His Mission, showing Original Sash and Door, Entrance, and Steps Leading to the Declaration Chamber 64Views of the Public Bath in Shíráz, where the Báb went as a Child 71Entrance Door and Ruins of the Qahviy-i-Awliya, in Shíráz, the School the Báb attended 73Grave of the Báb’s Wife in Sháh-Chiragh, Shíráz 74Tree Marking Resting Place of the Báb’s Infant Son in Bábí-Dukhtarán, Shíráz 74Facsimile of Ṭáhirih’s Handwriting 78Site of the Kazirán Gate, Shíráz 86The Market-Street of Vakíl, Shíráz 86The Madrisih of Ním-Ávard, Iṣfahán 95Views of Ṭihrán 102Áqáy-i-Kalím, Brother of Bahá’u’lláh 103Views of the House of Bahá’u’lláh in Ṭihrán 105Approach to the Ruins of Bahá’u’lláh’s Original Home in Tákúr, Mázindarán 110Inscription placed by the Vazír, Mírzá Buzurg, above Door of Home in Tákúr 112Views of the House Occupied by Bahá’u’lláh in Tákúr, Mázindarán 115Views of the Mosque of Gawhar-Shád in Mashhad, showing Pulpit where Mullá Ḥusayn preached 124View of the “Bábíyyih” in Mashhad 127Drawing of Mecca 129Relics of the Báb, showing Dress worn under the Jubbih (outer coat) 133Relics of the Báb, showing Cap around which the Turban was wound 134Cloth Worn By the Báb when Circumambulating the Ka’bih 135Drawing of Medina 139Views of the Masjid-i-Naw 144Views of the Masjid-i-Vakíl, Shíráz, showing Section of the Interior, Pulpit from which the Báb Addressed the Congregation, and Entrance Door 152Views of the House of Quddús’ Father in Barfurúsh 182Siyyid Javád-i-Karbilá’í 189Interior of Ḥájí Mírzá ‘Alí’s House in Shíráz, (the Báb’s Maternal Uncle) 192View of Iṣfahán 199Views of the House of the Imám-i-Jum’ih in Iṣfahán, showing Entrance and Courtyard 200Views of the Masjid-i-Jum’ih in Iṣfahán, showing Pulpit before which the Báb Prayed 203Views of the House of the Mu’tamídu’d-Dawlih in Iṣfahán 206View of the Imárat-i-Khurshíd in Iṣfahán, showing Ruins of the Section the Báb Occupied 210Manúchihr Khán, The Mu’tamidu’d-i-Dawlih 211View of Káshán 217Gate of Attár, Káshán 218Views of the House of Ḥájí Mírzá Jání in Káshán, showing Room where the Báb stayed 220Views of Qum, showing the Haram-i-Ma’Súmih 223Village of Qummrud 225Ruins of the Fortress of Kinár-Gird 225Views of the Village of Kulayn 226Muḥammad Sháh 229Ḥájí Mírzá Áqásí 233Panorama of Tabríz 238The Ark (Citadel) of Tabríz where the Báb was Confined, showing Interior and Exterior (X) of Room He Occupied 238Castle of Máh-Kú 242View of Milán in Adharbayján 257Houses in which Ṭáhirih lived in Qazvín 274Ṭáhirih’s Library in her Father’s House in Qazvín 275Village of Sháh-Rud 291Hamlet of Badasht 292The Persian Howdah 296Castle of Chihríq 301The House Occupied by the Báb in Urúmíyyih, The Bálá-Khánih (X) showing Room in which He stayed 310Náṣiri’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 (X) stands Manúchihr Khán, the Mu’tamídu’d-Dawlih 314Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh 315Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh 316Eminent Persian Mujtahids 317The Namaz-Khanih of Shaykhu’l-Islám of Tabríz, showing corner (X) where the Báb was Bastinadoed 318Village of Nishápúr 325Views of the Village of Miyamay, showing Exterior and Interior of the Masjid where Mullá Ḥusayn and his companions prayed 326House of the Sa‘ídu’l-‘Ulamá’ in Barfurúsh, Mázindarán 334Views of the Caravanserai of Sabzih-Maydán in Mázindarán 335The Shrine of Shaykh Ṭabarsí 343Views of the Site of the Fort of Ṭabarsí, showing the Tomb of the Shaykh and the Site of the Fort that enclosed the Shrine 344Entrance of the Shrine of Shaykh Ṭabarsí in Mázindarán 345Plans and Sketches of the Fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí 348House of Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí, the Mujtahid, in Sarí, Mázindarán 350Village of Afra 360Village of Shír-Gáh 362Village of Riz-Ab 364Village of Fírúz-Kúh 364Village of Vas-Kas 364View of Ámul 370House of the Governor of Ámul 370Views of the Masjid of Ámul, (X) showing the place where opening was made in Wall 373Tree from which Mullá Ḥusayn was shot 380Village of Dizva 401Views of the Madrisih of Mírzá Zakí, in Barfurúsh, the Resting Place of Quddús 412Muḥammad Riḍá, (One of the Companions of Quddús, who survived the Struggle of Shaykh Ṭabarsí) 427Mírzá Abú-Talíb (Companion of Quddús who survived the Struggle of Shaykh Ṭabarsí) 428Views of the Masjid-i-Sháh of Ṭihrán 438The Madrisih of Mírzá Ṣáliḥ in Ṭihrán 440The Madrisiy-i-Sadr in Ṭihrán, (X) showing Room Bahá’u’lláh Occupied 442The Madrisih of Daru’sh-Shafáy-i-Masjid-i-Sháh in Ṭihrán 443The Sabzih-Maydán of Ṭihrán 457Gate of Naw, Ṭihrán 457Panorama of Yazd 462Vahíd’s House in Yazd 466Views of the Fort of Narin, Yazd 470Panorama of Nayríz 478Vahíd’s House in Nayríz 479The Fort of Khájih 480Vahíd’s Room in the Fort 480The Masjid-i-Jami’ at Nayríz 492Site of the Martyrdoms at Nayríz 497Graves of the Martyrs at Nayríz 497Vahíd’s Resting-Place at Nayríz 498Mírzá Taqí Khán, the Amír-Nizám 500The Báb’s Prayer Beads and Signet Ring 503Qur’án belonging to the Báb 503Ruins of the House Mullá Muḥammad-i-Mamaqání, the Mujtahid of Tabríz 509The Barrack-Square in Tabríz, where the Báb suffered Martyrdom (X) showing place where He was Suspended and shot) 511Site of the Moat that surrounded Tabríz, where the Báb’s Body was thrown 517View of the Imám-Zádih Ḥasan at Ṭihrán, where the Báb’s Body was kept 520View of Zanján 527Views of the Masjid built for Hujjat by his companions 528The Caravanserai of Mírzá Ma’ṣúm-i-Tabíb at Zanján, (X) showing Room the Báb Occupied 535Graves of Ashraf (1) and his Mother (2) 562Entrance to Hujjat’s ruined House at Zanján 571Square in Zanján where Hujjat’s Body was left exposed for three days 578Ḥájí Imám (X) showing One of the survivors of the struggle of Zanján 579Village of Afchih near Ṭihrán (showing Bahá’u’lláh’s House through trees) 597Murgh-Mahallih, Bahá’u’lláh’s Summer Residence in Shimírán 598View of Níyávarán near Ṭihrán 602The Russian Legation in the Village of Zarkandih 604Southern part of Ṭihrán where criminals were hanged and where many Bahá’ís were martyred, (X) indicates site of Síyáh-Chál 607Bahá’í Family martyred in Persia 610Believers gathered around the Body of a Martyr 611The House of the Kalantar in Ṭihrán where Ṭáhirih was confined 623Costumes worn by Persian Ladies in the middle of the 19th Century (showing Indoor and Outdoor dress) 624Site of the Garden of Ílkhání where Ṭáhirih was Martyred 626General View of Tákúr in Mázindarán 638Ruins of Bahá’u’lláh’s House, originally belonging to the Vazír, His Father in Tákúr, Mázindarán 640View of Ábádih 644The Hádíqatu’r-Raḥmán, where the Heads of the Martyrs of Nayríz Lie Buried 645Views of Baghdád 649Bahá’u’lláh’s House in Baghdád 662View of the Illuminated Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel 666Map of Persia 677



[NOTE: The next 20 leaves of the book which contain the facsimiles are unnumbered pages.]


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 Islámic 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 ‘madakhil’ 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 ‘madakhils’ 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, Hujjatu’lláh [the Proof of God], Bagíyyatu’lláh [the Remnant of God], and Qá’im-i-‘Alí-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 Musulman and was willing to know something about his religion, as I might perhaps be inclined to adopt it. He regarded me very intently on my saying this, and replied that he had no doubt of all Europeans coming over to his religion. Our report to the 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-Nizám, 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 Musulman 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 Safar, 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.



“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 Zillu’lláh, or Shadow of God; the Qibliy-i-’Alam, 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 Nasikhu’t Tavaríkh, 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 Adharbayján 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.”


“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.”


“...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 ‘madakhil’ 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 ‘madakhils’ 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 ‘Madakhil’ 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.”


“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 Musulman 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 Musulman 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 letter 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.”)



“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 (Khilafat) is a matter to be determined by the choice and election of his followers, and the visible head of the Musulman 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 Isma’ílís as well as the Shí‘ah or ‘Church of the Twelve’ (Madhhab-i-Ithna-‘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-Ábí-Tálib, 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’áviyih I, A.H. 50 (A.D. 670).

3. Ḥusayn, son of ‘Alí and Fáṭimih, born A.H. 4, killed at Karbilá on Muharram 10, A.H. 61 (Oct. 10, A.D. 680).

4. ‘Alí, son of Ḥusayn and Shahribánú (daughter of Yazdígird, 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 Mansur, the ‘Abbásid Khalífih.

7. Músá-Káẓim, son of Imám Ja’far-i-Ṣádiq, born A.H. 129, poisoned by order of Harunu’r-Rashíd, A.H. 183.

8. ‘Alí-ibn-i-Musa’r-Riḍá, generally called Imám Riḍá, born A.H. 153, poisoned near Tus, in Khurasán, by order of the Khalífih Ma’mun, 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’tasim at Baghdád, A.H. 220.

10. ‘Alí-Naqí, son of Imám Muḥammad-Taqí, born A.H. 213, poisoned at Surra-man-Ra’a, 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-Khatun, called by the Shí‘ahs ‘Imám-Mihdí,’ ‘Hujjatu’lláh’ (the Proof of God), ‘Baqiyyatu’lláh’ (the Remnant of God), and ‘Qá’im-i-Al-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’a, 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’a, A.H. 329; that he still lives, surrounded by a chosen band of his followers, in one of those mysterious cities, Jabúlqá and Jabúlsá; 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’ (Abvab). 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-Rúh Naw-bakhtí; the fourth Abu’l-Ḥasan ‘Alí-ibn-i-Muḥammad Simarí. 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-Sughra). 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 take place in the fulness of time.” (Excerpt from “A Traveller’s Narrative,” Note O, pp. 296–99.)






: :

Háshim ‘Abdu’l-sh-Shams

: :

‘Abdu’l-Muttalib Umayyih

: :

: Umayyad Caliphs


: : :

‘Abdu’lláh Abú-Talíb ‘Abbás

: :

Muḥammad :

: :

Fáṭimih ‘Alí



: :

Ḥasan Ḥusayn

Umayyad Caliphs, 661–749 A.D. ‘Abbásid Caliphs, 749–1258 A.D Fatimite 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’s-Siddiq-ibn-i-Ábí-Quhafih, 632–34 A.D. ‘Umar-ibn-i’l-Khattab 634–44 A.D. Uthmán-ibn-i-’Affán, 644–56 A.D. ‘Alí-ibn-i-Ábí-Tálib, 656–61 A.D.


“...The law in Persia, and, indeed, among Musulman 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 qádís 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 Nadir 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 darúghih, 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 hakím, 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 call 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 pishkash and the bribe. The darugis 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-Kabir.” 4. Wife of Mírzá Zaynu’l-Ábidín. 5. Known as “Saqqa-Khání.” 6. Wife of Háj Mírzá Siyyid Ḥasan, son of Mírzá ‘Alí. 7. Died at birth. 8. Surnamed “Khal-i-Asghar,” to whom the Kitáb-i-Íqán was addressed. 9. Surnamed “Khal-i-‘Aẓam,” 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. Muzaffari’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-Nizám. 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.


[Introductory Note]


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-Ahsá’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-Dhabíh; 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.



[Illustration: SHAYKH AḤMAD-I-AHSÁ’Í]

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-Ahsá’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 Bahrayn, to the south of the Persian Gulf, he set out, as bidden by an almighty Providence, to unravel the mysteries of those verses of Islamic Scriptures which foreshadowed the advent of a new Manifestation. He was well aware of the dangers and perils that beset his path; he fully realised the crushing responsibility of his task. There burned in his soul the conviction that no reform, however drastic, within the Faith of 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 Islámic 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 Súfís 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.

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.

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 “Risaly-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,

[Illustrations: FATḤ-‘ALÍ SHÁH AND SONS] 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.

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-Khaliq, would ask him to retire from his presence and leave him alone with his chosen and favoured disciple. This marked preference shown to so modest and illiterate a man as ‘Abdu’l-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 Súfí. By the orthodox leaders of that community, however, such as the Ni’matu’lláh and Dhahábí, he was denounced as an intruder and was suspected of a desire to rob them of their leadership. ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb, for whom the Súfí doctrine had no special attraction, scorned their false imputations and shunned their society. He associated with none except Ḥájí Ḥasan-i-Nayiní, 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.

Mírzá Maḥmúd-i-Qamsarí, 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 Nayin who had arisen to announce the tidings of a new Revelation, and under whose spell fell all who heard him, whether scholars, officials of the government, or the uneducated among the people. His influence was such that those who came in contact with him renounced the world and despised its riches. Curious to ascertain the truth, I proceeded, unsuspected by my friends, to Nayin, where I was able to verify the statements that were current about him. His radiant countenance bespoke the light that had been kindled in his soul. I heard him, one day, after he had offered his morning prayer, speak words such as these: ‘Ere long will the earth be turned into a paradise. Ere long will Persia be made the shrine round which will circle the peoples of the earth.’ One morning, at the hour of dawn, I found him fallen upon his face, repeating in wrapt devotion the words ‘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 Muharram of the year 1235 A.H. I realised that the day to which Ḥájí Ḥasan-i-Nayiní 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 ‘Qasidiy-i-Varqá’iyyih’ as well as certain passages of the Persian and Arabic ‘Hidden Words.’ I was moved to the depths of my soul as I heard him recite those sacred words. The following I still vividly remember: ‘O Son of Being! Thy heart is my home; sanctify it for my descent. Thy spirit is my place of revelation; cleanse it for my manifestation. O Son of Earth! Wouldst thou have me, seek none other than me; and wouldst thou gaze upon my beauty, close thine eyes to the world and all that is therein; for my will and the will of another than I, even as fire and water, cannot dwell together in one heart.’ I asked him the date of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh. ‘The dawn of the second day of Muharram,’ 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-Qamsarí himself, and which is still current amongst the people, is assuredly a compelling evidence of the perspicacity of the late Shaykh Aḥmad-i-Ahsá’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.

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 Khurasán. 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 Ayatu’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-Mamaqání 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.

Shaykh Aḥmad, having thus committed his disciples to the care of Siyyid Káẓim, left for Khurasán. 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.’”

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 Muharram, 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.

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 Sharhu’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 Muharram, 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.

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-Shuhada’, 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.

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 Ḥin. ‘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.


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, journeyto 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 Muhít-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 an 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.

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.

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 Jabúlqá nor from Jabúlsá.’ 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-Khú’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.

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-Shuhada’ had failed to excite. Three days later, I saw that same Youth arrive and take His seat in the midst of the company of the assembled disciples of Siyyid 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.”’

“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.

“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 Ádhirbayján, 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 Ahsánu’l-Qisás, My previous commentary on the Súrih of Joseph? Which of the two is superior, in your estimation?’ ‘To me,’ I replied, ‘the Ahsánu’l-Qisás 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 Jabál-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.

“Sixteen lunar months, less twenty and two days, had elapsed since the day of the martyrdom of the Báb, when, on the day of Árafih, 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 Sharh-i-Qasidih and Sharh-i-Khutbih, 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-‘Aẓam.” 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-Hijjih 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.

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, I 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.”

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 Muhit-i-Sha’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.

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.”

Every year, in the month of Dhi’l-Qádih, the Siyyid would proceed from Karbilá to Kazímayn in order to visit the shrines of the imáms. He would return to Karbilá in time to visit, on the day of Árafih, 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-Qádih, 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-Baratha, situated on the highway between Baghdád and Kazímayn, in time to offer up his noonday prayer. He bade the Muadhdhin summon the faithful to gather and pray. Standing beneath the shade of a palm which faced the masjid, he joined the congregation, and had just concluded his devotions when an Arab suddenly appeared, approached the Siyyid, and embraced him. “Three days ago,” he said, “I was shepherding my flock in this adjoining pasture, when sleep suddenly fell upon me. In my dream I saw 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-Baratha. 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 Kazímayn and shall have returned to Karbilá, there, three days after your return, on the day of Árafih, 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!

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 Árafih, 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 Árafih, 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.


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.

It was on the first day of Muharram, 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 Muhit, 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.

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 Muhyi’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-Akhbarí, 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 Gharásih [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.”

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 Khurasán. 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-Bastamí, 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.

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.

“‘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.

“‘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 Jamádiyu’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

[Illustrations: VIEWS OF THE UPPER ROOM OF THE BÁB’S HOUSE IN SHÍRÁZ WHERE HE DECLARED HIS MISSION.] 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

[Illustrations: HIS BEDCHAMBER. HIS MOTHER’S ROOM. HIS SITTING ROOM. VIEWS OF THE BÁB’S HOUSE IN SHÍRÁZ.] 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 Jamádiyu’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.’”

“‘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.

“‘I sat spellbound by His utterance, oblivious of time and of those who awaited me. Suddenly the call of the muadhdhín, 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


“‘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.”

“‘That same morning, at sunrise, soon after my return from the home of the Báb, Mullá ‘Alíy-i-Bastamí, 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-Bastamí 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.

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 Sád of Samad 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 chose 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 Barfurúsh, 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’ 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.”

The Báb, whose name was Siyyid ‘Alí-Muḥammad, was born in the city of Shíráz, on the first day of Muharram, 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


[Illustrations: TREE MARKING THE RESTING PLACE OF THE BÁB’S INFANT SON IN BÁBÍ-DUKHTARÁN, SHÍRÁZ. GRAVE OF THE BÁB’S WIFE IN SHÁH-CHIRAGH, SHÍRÁZ.] 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 Abid. The Báb, though not inclined to study, submitted to His uncle’s will and directions.

Shaykh Abid, known by his pupils as Shaykhuna, was a man of piety and learning. He had been a disciple of both Shaykh Aḥmad and Siyyid Káẓim. “One day,” he related, “I asked the Báb to recite the opening words of the Qur’án: ‘Bismi’lláhi’r-Rahmáni’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 ‘Rahmán,’ 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 Sáhibu’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 Abid, 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.

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.D., 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.”

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-Shuhada’, 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!”

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-Bastamí,

Mullá Khudá-Bakhsh-i-Quchání, later named Mullá ‘Alí

Mullá Ḥasan-i-Bajistání,

Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Yazdí,

Mírzá Muḥammad Rawdih-Khán-i-Yazdí,


Mullá Maḥmúd-i-Khú’í,

Mullá Jalíl-i-Urúmí,

Mullá Aḥmad-i-Ibdal-i-Marághi’í,

Mullá Báqir-i-Tabrízí,

Mullá Yusif-i-Ardibílí,

Mírzá Hádí, son of Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb-i-Qazvíní,

Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alíy-i-Qazvíní.



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-Thalith. 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.

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.

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 Khurasán, 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.”

The Báb then summoned to His presence Mullá ‘Alíy-i-Bastamí, 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.”

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 Kazirán. 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 Kazirán 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 Kazímayn, 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 Kazímayn, ‘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.”

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 Attár, 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.

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

[Illustration: THE MADRISH OF NÍM-ÁVARD, IṢFAHÁN] 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.

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 Khurasán. 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.”


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. ln 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’tamídu’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.

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 Sáhibu’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!”

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-Pa-Qal’iyí, recognised the truth of the Cause. Mullá Ṣádiq-i-Khurasání, 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.’”

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-Pa, 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.

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 Pay-i-Minar. Ḥájí Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Khurasání, 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 motivation 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.

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’liq.” “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.

“‘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 Khurasán. 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.”’”


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 Tákúr, 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 Tákúr, 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

[Illustrations: APPROACH TO, AND RUINS OF, BAHÁ’U’LLÁH’S ORIGINAL HOME IN TAKUR, MÁZINDARÁN] 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.”

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!

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 Sáhibu’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.”

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.

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 Tákúr 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 Tákúr, 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.


On being informed, upon their arrival in Tákúr, 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’adat-Ábád, a village not far distant from this place. It is My purpose to visit him and deliver to him the Message of God.”

Desirous of giving effect to His words, 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.

One day, in the course of one of His riding excursions into the country, Bahá’u’lláh, accompanied by His companions, saw, seated by Me 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.

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.

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.

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 Quch-Hisar, 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.


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 váhid. All these names, in these eighteen sets, will, together with the first váhid, 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 Khurasán. 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 Khurasán,” He said, “shall I be ready to set out from this city on My pilgrimage to Ḥijáz.”

Mullá Ḥusayn, refreshed and fortified by the experience of his intercourse with Bahá’u’lláh, set out on his journey to Khurasán. 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

[Illustrations: VIEWS OF THE MOSQUE OF GAWHAR-SHÁD IN MASHHAD SHOWING PULPIT WHERE MULLÁ ḤUSAYN PREACHED] him. The first to embrace the Faith in Khurasán 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 Khurasán 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 Khurasán 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-Khiyabán, 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, 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 Khurasán. 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 Tabas. 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.

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 Jamádi 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 Jamádi 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.”

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.


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.

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.”

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.

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.

On the day of Arafat, 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.

Although the month of Dhi’l-Hijjih, 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 Muhít-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 Muhit! 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.”

This peremptory challenge, thrust so unexpectedly by the Báb upon Mírzá Muhít-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 Muhit! Set forth whatsoever perplexes your mind, and I will, by the aid of God, unloose My tongue and undertake to resolve your problems, so that you may testify to the excellence of My utterance and realise that no one besides Me is able to manifest My wisdom.”

Mírzá Muhit 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 Muhit, 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 Muhit, and gave it the name of Sahifiyi-i-Baynu’l-Haramayn. Mírzá Muhit, 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 Muhit. 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.

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 Ádhirbayján. 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.”

From Mecca the Báb proceeded to Medina. It was the first day of the month of Muharram, 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-Ahsá’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 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 Khasá’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.

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.

The next person whom Quddús met in Shíráz was Ismu’lláhu’l-Asdaq, Mullá Ṣádiq-i-Khurasání, to whom he entrusted the copy of the Khasá’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?”

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 Ajudan-Báshí, and generally designated in those days as Sáhib-Ikhtiyar, 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-Khurasání 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.”

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-Bastamí, 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.

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.

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 Núsayrí 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 Khurasán, 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.”

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.

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.

[Illustrations: VIEWS OF THE MASJID-I-VAKÍL, SHÍRÁZ. SECTION OF THE INTERIOR; PULPIT FROM WHICH THE BÁB ADDRESSED THE CONGREGATION; ENTRANCE DOOR] 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.”

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 Siyyidi-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.

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 Zillu’s-Sulṭán, the tyrannical son of the Sháh and a sworn enemy of the Cause, and, on the other, Mírzá Fatḥ-‘Alí Khán, the Sáhib-i-Diván. 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-Khabbaz, 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-Bazzaz, 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-Bisat, 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 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-Haná-Sab, 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.

On their way to Iṣfahán they met, in the city of Kangavar, 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 Kangavar, 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-Haratí, 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-Katib, 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.”

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.

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 Khurasán, he, disguising himself as a horseman of Hizárih and Quchán 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.

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-Haratí, 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 Samírí, 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 Tághút, 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.

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-Iravání, 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 Árafih, 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.”

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-Zavari’í, surnamed Dhabíh, 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-Hakkak, a lad of my age, who was a resident of Qum. As circumstances interfered with his plan, he promised before his departure that he would communicate with us from 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-Daru’sh-Shafay-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.


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 Khurasán. 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.

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 Lutf-‘Alí, the Master of Ceremonies to the Sháh, as the honoured guest of his Imperial Majesty. The Sháh confidentially signified through Mírzá Lutf-‘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 Khurasán. 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.”

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 Hujjat-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-Ahsá’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, Hujjat 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 Hujjat. As soon as he appeared, Hujjat 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 Hujjat. “But for the presence of this distinguished company; I would have chastised you severely. How dare you consider matters of belief to be dependent upon the approbation or rejection of others?” Receiving from the hand of his messenger the copy of the 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.

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.”

The incident was related to me by a certain Mírzá ‘Abdu’lláh-i-Ghawgka, 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.

From Kirmán, Quddús decided to leave for Yazd, and from thence to proceed to Ardikán, Nayin, 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.”

In Ṭihrán, Quddús was admitted into the presence of Bahá’u’lláh after which he proceeded to Mázindarán, where, in his native town of Barfurúsh, 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 Barfurúsh 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 Barfurúsh they set out for Khurasán, a journey rendered memorable by deeds so heroic that none of their countrymen could hope to rival them.

As to Mullá Ṣádiq, as soon as he arrived at Yazd, he enquired of a trusted friend, a native of Khurasán, 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 Islámic 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.’”

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.

Mullá Yúsúf-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 Yúsúf-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 Khurasán.

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.

While Vahíd 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 Vahíd 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 Khurasán. 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!”

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.”

‘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 Murtadá, 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.”

‘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 Bagh-i-Takht.”

‘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.

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.

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 Ádhirbayján, 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.”


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’tamídu’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’tamíd 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.

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 unfailng 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.

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-‘Asr. 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-Ahsá’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 mastery 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-Haratí, 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.”

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’tamíd 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-Khassih. 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.”

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’tamíd 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.

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’tamíd, 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 Safihu’l-’Ulama’, 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.

As soon as the Mu’tamíd 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’tamíd invited Ḥájí Siyyid Asadu’lláh, son of the late Ḥájí Siyyid Muḥammad Báqir-i-Rashtí, Ḥájí Muḥammad-Ja’far-i-Abadiyí, 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.”

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’tamíd. 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 Sadrá, 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 Islámic law. Dissatisfied with the explanation he received, he began to contend idly with the Báb. He was soon silenced by the Mu’tamíd, 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’tamíd 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.

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-Haratí, 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.

Ere the Báb had transferred His residence to the house of the Mu’tamíd, Mírzá Ibráhím, father of the Sulṭánu’sh-Shuhudá’ 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-Shuhudá’ 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.

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-Abadiyí, 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.”

No sooner had the Mu’tamíd 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’tamíd 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’tamíd 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’tamíd, known by the name of Imárat-i-Khurshíd, and was introduced, through a side entrance reserved for the Mu’tamíd 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.

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’tamíd, 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’tamíd 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’tamíd 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.

One day, while seated with the Báb in his private garden within the courtyard of his house, the Mu’tamíd, 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’tamíd 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.

As the days of his earthly life were drawing to a close, the Mu’tamíd 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’tamíd. 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.

As the life of the Mu’tamíd 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.

A few days after the death of the Mu’tamíd, 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’tamídu’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’tamídu’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.”

The Sháh, who was firmly convinced of the loyalty of the Mu’tamíd, 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-Chaparchí, 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.


ON THE eve of the Báb’s arrival at Káshán, Ḥájí Mírzá Jání, surnamed Parpa, a noted resident of that city, dreamed that he was standing at a late hour in the afternoon at the gate of Attár, 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.”

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 Attár, 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.

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

[Illustrations: VIEWS OF THE HOUSE OF ḤÁJÍ MÍRZÁ JÁNÍ IN KASHÁn, SHOWING THE ROOM WHERE THE BÁB STAYED] 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.


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 Haram-i-Ma’súmih, 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.”

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 Qumrud, 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.

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’qub, the author of the Usul-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-Khú’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.

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.

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.”

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.)

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’adh, 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 Nushiravan-i-’Adil, in spite of his commanding position, eventually was publicly disgraced, was thrown into a pit, and became the object of the contempt and the ridicule of the people. He bewailed his plight and wept so bitterly that he finally lost his sight. Neither the example of the former nor the fate of the latter seemed to have awakened that self-confident minister to the perils of his own position. He persisted in his thoughts until he too forfeited his rank, lost his riches, 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 Ádhirbayján. 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.

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 Ádhirbayján. 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 Hujjat to visit the Báb in Shíráz, and to investigate His Cause. The Báb commissioned him to deliver the following message to Sulaymán Khán-i-Afshar, 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.

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

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.

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.

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 Khamsíh, 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.”

On the day after the Báb’s arrival, Ḥájí Muḥammad-Taqíy-i-Milání, 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.

“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, Tabas, 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.’”

[Illustration: THE CASTLE OF MÁH-KÚ]


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 Jabál-i-Basít, from whence we shall be transferred to the Jabál-i-Shadíd. Both these places are among the mountains of Khúy 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.”

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.

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.

“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.

“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.’”

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.

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.”

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.

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 Muharram 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 Muhriqu’l-Qulub, 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.

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-Shuhada’, which was hanging upon a tree. Drops of blood dripped profusely from His lacerated throat. With feelings of unsurpassed delight, I approached that tree and, stretching forth My hands, gathered a few drops of that sacred blood, and drank them devoutly. When I awoke, I felt that the Spirit of God had permeated and taken possession of My soul. My heart was thrilled with the joy of His Divine presence, and the mysteries of His Revelation were unfolded before My eyes in all their glory.”

No sooner had Muḥammad Sháh condemned the Báb to captivity amid the mountain fastnesses of Ádhirbayján 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 Khurasán, 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 Khurasán that inhabited the regions of Quchán, Bujnurd, and Shíraván leagued themselves with the Salar, son of the Asifu’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-Namdar and Amír Arslán Khán, son of the Salar, 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.

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 Salar, in his desire to extend the scope of the rebellion, had determined to approach him and obtain his support, than he promptly decided to leave the city in order to avoid implicating himself self 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 Ádhirbayján, 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 Ádhirbayján.

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 Ádhirbayján.

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.’”

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 Milán, the Ard-i-Jannat, and have been specially plucked and consecrated to this feast by the Ismu’lláhu’l-Fatiq, Muḥammad-Taqí.”

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.

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 Salma! 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 Salma,’ even as we have revealed to your eyes the ‘banks of the Araxes.’” By the “abode of Salma” the Báb meant the town of Salmas, which is situated in the neighbourhood of Chihríq and which the Turks designate as Salmas. 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 Ḥin.” 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.”

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.

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 Khúy, of Urúmíyyih, of Marághih, of Milán, 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!’”


‘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.

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 Barfurúsh 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 Ádhirbayján, 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.”

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 Ádhirbayján, 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-Mamaqání, that noted and learned disciple of Shaykh Aḥmad-i-Ahsá’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.

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 Khurasán. 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.”

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 Khurasán. I proceed to carry out in their entirety those things which you have instructed me to perform.’”

Alone and with a heart wholly detached from all else but God, Mullá Ḥusayn set out on his journey to Mashhad. His only companion, as he trod his way to Khurasán, 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-Khiyabán, 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 Khurasán. 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.


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 Khurasán 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 Khurasán. 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 Tá, 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.

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 Khurasán. 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.

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.

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.”

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 Khurasán. 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.

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, Abid 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 Ta’ir, and whom Ṭáhirih had styled Fata’l-Malih, 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.

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

[Illustrations: HOUSES IN WHICH ṬÁHIRIH LIVED IN QAZVÍN] 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.’”

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.

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 Sáhib-Diván, 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 Hujjatu’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-Bahrayní 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 mihrab. Soon after, I saw Mullá Taqí enter alone, walk to the mihrab, and offer his prayer. Cautiously and quietly, I followed him and stood behind him. He was prostrating himself on the floor, when I rushed upon him, drew out my spear-head, and plunged it into the back of his neck. He uttered a loud cry. I threw him on his back and, unsheathing my dagger, drove it hilt-deep into his mouth. With the same dagger, I struck him at several places in his breast and side, and left him bleeding in the mihrab.

“I ascended immediately the roof of the masjid and watched the frenzy and agitation of the multitude. A crowd rushed in and, placing him upon a litter, transported him to his house. Unable to identify the murderer, the people seized the occasion to gratify their basest instincts. They rushed at one another’s throats, violently attacked and mutually accused one another in the presence of the governor. Finding out that a large number of innocent people had been gravely molested and thrown into prison, I was impelled by the voice of my conscience to confess my act. I accordingly besought the presence of the governor and said to him: ‘If I deliver into your hands the author of this murder, will you promise me to set free all the innocent people who are suffering his place?’ No sooner had I obtained from him the necessary assurance than I confessed to him that I had committed the deed. He was not disposed at first to believe me. At my request, he summoned the old woman who had spread the rug in the mihrab, but refused to be convinced by the evidence which she gave. I was finally conducted to the bedside of 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 Sáhib-Diván. 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-Salar, and remained concealed in that house until the great struggle or 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.

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 a 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.

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.”

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.

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 Sáhib-Diván 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 Sadr-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 Sadr-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.

The rest of his companions, among whom were Mullá Táhir-i-Shírází and Mullá Ibráhím-i-Maḥallátí, 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?”

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 Sadr-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 Sadr-i-Ardibílí in such embarrassments as would inevitably disgrace him in the eyes of his sovereign.

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.

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-Hádíy-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.”

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.

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 Fata’l-Malih, the verses which she, in her own handwriting, had penned, every letter of which bore eloquent testimony to her faith in the exalted Missions of both the 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.

A few days after Ṭáhirih’s arrival at Ṭihrán, Bahá’u’lláh decided to send her to Khurasán 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, Qanitih, to a place outside the gate of the capital, from whence they were, later on, to proceed to Khurasán. 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 Khurasán.

“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 ‘Bagh-i-Jannat.’ ‘That house,’ He remarked, ‘has been providentially prepared for your reception, that you may entertain in it the loved ones of God.’

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


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 Khurasán. 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-Rud, 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 Khurasán 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.

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 Sáhibu’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 Khurasán 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 Salar 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-Maraghiyí, 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.

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.”

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 Khurasán, 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-Rud. As they were approaching that village, Mírzá Sulaymán, who was following at a distance behind them, encountered Muḥammad-i-Haná-Sab, 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-Rud 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 Khurasán. “Tell Mullá Aḥmad-i-Ibdal, 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.”

No sooner had Bahá’u’lláh been informed by Muḥammad-i-Haná-Sab of the arrival of Quddús at Sháh-Rud 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.

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 of 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.

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 Khurasán 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.’”

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.

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.

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.

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-Rud 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.

Quddús had in the meantime fallen into the hands of his opponents, and was confined in Sarí 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.


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 Nayibu’s-Saltanih. 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.

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.

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.

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 Khúy had espoused the Cause of the Prisoner and had completely identified themselves with His Faith. Among them figured Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí and his brother Buyuk-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 Khúy and Chihríq.

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 a 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 Khúy 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.

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 Iski-Shahr, felt the warmth of his enthusiasm and were deeply impressed by the tenacity of his conviction. An increasing number of people became enamoured of the charm of his personality and willingly acknowledged the compelling power of his Faith. Such was the influence which he exercised over them that a few among the believers were inclined to regard him as an exponent of Divine Revelation, although he altogether disclaimed such pretensions. He was often heard to relate the following: “In the days when I occupied the exalted position of a 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 Ádhirbayján. In Chihríq you will attain your heart’s desire.’ I followed His directions and have now reached my goal.”

The news of the turmoil which that lowly dervish had been able to raise among the Kurdish leaders in 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 Khúy, 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.

“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.”


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 Khúy, which lay on their route to the capital of Ádhirbayján. They decided to go by way of Urúmíyyih and thus avoid the demonstrations which the excited populace in Khúy 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

[Illustration: THE HOUSE OCCUPIED BY THE BÁB IN URÚMÍYYIH. THE BÁLÁ-KHÁNIH (UPPER ROOM) MARKED X IS THE ROOM IN WHICH HE STAYED] 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.

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 Ádhirbayján. 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.

Tabríz, in particular, was in the throes of the wildcat 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 Ádhirbayján. 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.”

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 Ádhirbayján 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 Nizámu’l-’Ulama’, who was the tutor of Náṣiri’d-Dín Mírzá the Valí-‘Ahd, Mullá Muḥammad-i-Mamaqání, 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 Nizámu’l-’Ulama’, who, as soon as the proceedings had begun, in the name of the assembly commissioned an officer of the army to introduce the 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.

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 Nizámu’l-’Ulama’. “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-Mamaqání, 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 Ádhirbayján?’ ‘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.’

“The Nizámu’l-’Ulama’ uthought 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 Nizámu’l-’Ulama’ 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-Mamaqání interrupted and called His attention to all 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.’

“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 Nizámu’l-’Ulama’ was sorely displeased at the manner in which the meeting had been conducted. “How shameful,” he was heard to exclaim later, “is the discourtesy of the people of 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-Mamaqání, 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 Ádhirbayján, will on that day unanimously support 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.”

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 Ádhirbayján, 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 Khutbiy-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 Hujjat, 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 Masíh-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 Hujjat indicated how greatly pleased He was with the purity and nobleness of his life, and how much He admired his undaunted courage, his indomitable will, his unworldliness, and his unwavering constancy.


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-Khadrá, 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-Khadrá. 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.

In the town of Nishápúr, 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 Nishápúr, 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 Miyamay, thirty among its inhabitants declared their faith and joined that company. All of them with the exception of Mullá Isa, fell martyrs in the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí.

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 Shavval, 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.


The news of their approach to the town of Barfurúsh 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 Barfurúsh 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 Barfurúsh, 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 Barfurúsh, 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.

At a farsang’s distance from Barfurúsh, 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.”

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-Hakamiy-i-Kirmání, Ḥájí Mullá Ismá’íl-i-Faráhání, Mírzá Habíbu’lláh-i-Iṣfahání, and Siyyid Muḥammad-i-Iṣfahání.

When, at a later time, I visited Khurasán and was staying at the home of Mullá Ṣádiq-i-Khurasání 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 Vas-Kas, when Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá was completely routed, and had fled barefooted from the face of the companions of the Báb, the Amír-Nizám 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-Nizám. ‘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-Nizám, 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-Lálih-Báshí, who, in the “Taríkh-i-Náṣirí,” lavished his praise on the prodigious strength and the unrivalled skill which had characterised that stroke.

I ventured to ask Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Furúghí whether he was aware that in the “Nasikhu’t-Tavarikh“ 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.”

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 Barfurúsh. 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

[Illustrations: VIEWS OF THE CARAVANSERAI OF SABZIH-MAYDÁN IN MÁZINDARÁN] coward, who has incited the inhabitants of this town to wage holy warfare against us and has ignominiously concealed himself behind the walls of his house, emerge from his inglorious retreat. Let him, by his example, demonstrate the sincerity of his appeal and the righteousness of his cause. Has he forgotten that he who preaches a holy war must needs himself march at the head of his followers, and by his own deeds kindle their devotion and sustain their enthusiasm?’”

The voice of Mullá Ḥusayn drowned the clamour of the multitude. The inhabitants of Barfurúsh 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 Barfurúsh, were heard from every side. The cry of “Yá Sáhibu’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 Barfurúsh 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 Barfurúsh 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!’”

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.

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.

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 Barfurúsh should in no wise he 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. Barfurúsh 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-Laríjání 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-Qádih, 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 companion 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 Barfurúsh 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 Barfurúsh 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.

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-Sabzívarí, a man of literary accomplishments and fearless courage, went to an attendant who was preparing the qulayn, 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 qulayn, 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 Sáhibu’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 qulayn. Affrighted and defenceless, he fell at the feet of Mullá Ḥusayn and implored his aid. He was given the bejewelled qulayn which belonged to his master and was bidden to return to Barfurúsh 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.”

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.”

The night preceding their arrival, the guardian of the shrine dreamed that the Siyyidu’sh-Shuhada’, the Imám Ḥusayn, had arrived at Shaykh Ṭabarsí, accompanied by no less than seventy-two warriors and a large number or 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.

On the very day of their arrival, which was the fourteenth of Dhi’l-Qádih, 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 Sáhibu’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.

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 Nazar 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 Nazar 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.

Nazar 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 Nazar 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 Nazar 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 Nazar 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 Barfurúsh, and explained the treacherous conduct of Khusraw. He again assured him of the sorrow which the death of his mother had caused him. “Afflict not your heart,” Nazar 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 Sáhibu’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.

The work had scarcely been completed when Shaykh Abú-Turáb arrived bearing the news of Bahá’u’lláh’s arrival at the village of Nazar 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 or 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 Nazar 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.

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-Khú’í with six people to Sarí, and to demand 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 Nazar 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 Sarí 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.”

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.”

The incarceration of Quddús in the home of Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí, Sarí’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 Sarí. 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 Khurasán, 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 Jamádiyu’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.

While in Sarí, 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 Sarí from offending Quddús, and was often heard to rebuke them for the harm which they desired to inflict upon him.

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 aid 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.

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 Muharram.

“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 Barfurúsh, 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.”

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 Sarí, Quddús, whom Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí had requested to write a commentary on the Súrih of Ikhlas, better known as the Súrih of Qul Huva’lláhu’l-Ahad, composed, in his interpretation of the Sád of Samad 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 Sarí 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 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.”

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 Usanlu, the Afghán, and the Kudar communities. He equipped them with whatever ammunition was required, and stationed them in the village of Afra, which was the property of Nazar 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 Rasul-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 Muharram, in the year 1265 A.H., Quddús determined to leave the gate of the fort. “Praise be to God,” he remarked to Rasul-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.”

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 Sáhibu’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, Habíbu’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-Khú’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.

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. 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 Vas-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

[Illustrations: VILLAGE OF RIZ-AB; VILLAGE OF FIRUZ-KÚH; VILLAGE OF VAS-KAS] 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 Sarí and Barfurúsh 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.

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 Vas-Kas. Undaunted by the overwhelming forces arrayed against them, and undeterred by the snow and mud which had accumulated on the roads, they headed, without a pause, in the midst of the darkness that surrounded them, towards the stronghold which served as a base for the operations of the enemy.

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 Yúsúf-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.

On the morning of that memorable engagement, Mullá Ḥusayn assembled his companions around Quddús in the outskirts of Vas-Kas, while he remained himself on horseback in anticipation of a renewed attack by the enemy. He was watching their movements, when he suddenly observed an innumerable host rushing from both sides towards him. All sprang to their feet and, raising again the cry of “Yá Sáhibu’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.”

This memorable engagement fell on the twenty-fifth of Muharram, 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 Janiy-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 hiskinsman 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-Ziyad, whom he had chosen as his companion.”

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 me-ed 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.

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-Laríjání, 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.

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-Laríjání and Sulaymán Khán-i-Afshar-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.”

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 Sáhibu’z-Zamán!” again broke forth, a cry so intense and powerful that forest, fort, and camp vibrated to its resounding echo.

Mullá Ḥusayn first charged the barricade which was defended by Zakariyyay-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-Laríjání 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 Khurasán, Qulí, and Ḥasan, came to his rescue and bore him to the fort.

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 Barfurúsh to the day they were first attacked, which fell on the twelfth of Dhi’l-Qádih 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.

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-Qádih, in the outskirts of Barfurúsh; the second, in the immediate neighbourhood of the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí, on the fifth day of the month of Muharram, against the forces of ‘Abdu’lláh Khán-i-Turkamán; the third, in Vas-Kas, on the twenty-fifth day of Muharram, 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-Afshar, 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.

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.”

The very night Quddús had given this warning, a siyyid from Qum, Mírzá Ḥusayn-i-Mutavallí, was moved to betray his companions. “Why is it,” he wrote to ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání, “that you have left unfinished the work which you have begun? You have already disposed of a formidable opponent. By the removal of Mullá Ḥusayn, who was the moving force behind these walls, you have demolished the pillar on which the strength and security of the fort depend. Had you been patient for one more day, you would have assuredly won for yourself the laurels of victory. With no more than a hundred men, I pledge my word that within the space of two days you will be able to capture the fort and secure the unconditional surrender of its occupants. They are worn with famine and are being grievously tested.” The sealed letter was entrusted to a certain Siyyid ‘Alíy-i-Zargar, who, as he carried with him the share of the rice he had received from Quddús, stole out of the fort at the hour of midnight and delivered it to ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán, with whom he was already acquainted. The message reached him at a time when he had sought refuge in a village situated at a distance of four farsangs from the fort, and knew not whether he should return to the capital and present himself after such a humiliating defeat to his sovereign, or repair to his home in Laríján, where he was sure to face the reproaches of his relations and friends.

He had just risen from his bed when, at the hour of sunrise, the siyyid brought him the letter. The news of the death of Mullá Ḥusayn nerved him to a fresh resolve. Fearing lest the messenger should spread the report concerning the death of so redoubtable an opponent, he instantly killed him, and then contrived by some strange device to divert from himself the suspicion of murder. Resolved to take the fullest advantage of the distress of the besieged and of the depletion of their forces, he undertook immediately the necessary preparations for the resumption of his attacks. Ten days before Naw-Rúz, he had encamped at half a farsang from the fort, and had ascertained the accuracy of the message that treacherous siyyid had brought him. In the hope of obtaining for himself every possible credit for the eventual surrender of his opponents, he refused to divulge, to even his closest officers, the information he had received.

The day had just broken when he hoisted his standard and, marching at the head of two regiments of infantry and cavalry, encompassed the fort and ordered his men to open fire upon the sentinels who were guarding the turrets. “The betrayer,” Quddús informed Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir, who had hastened to acquaint him with the gravity of the situation, “has announced the death of Mullá Ḥusayn to ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán. Emboldened by his removal, he is now determined to storm our stronghold and to secure for himself the honour of being its sole conqueror. Sally out and, with the aid of eighteen men marching at your side, administer a befitting chastisement upon the aggressor and his host. Let him realise that though Mullá Ḥusayn be no more, God’s invincible power still continues to sustain his companions and enable them to triumph over the forces of their enemies.”

No sooner had Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir selected his companions than he ordered that the gate of the fort be flung open. Leaping upon their chargers and raising the cry of “Yá Sáhibu’z-Zamán!” they plunged headlong into the camp of the enemy. The whole army fled in confusion before so terrific a charge. All but a few were able to escape. They reached Barfurúsh utterly demoralised and laden with shame. ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán was so shaken with fear that he fell from his horse. Leaving, in his distress, one of his boots hanging from the stirrup, he ran away, half shod and bewildered, in the direction which the army had taken. Filled with despair, he hastened to the prince and confessed the ignominious reverse he had sustained. Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir, on his part, emerging together with his eighteen companions unscathed from that encounter, and holding in his hand the standard which an affrighted enemy had abandoned, repaired with exultation to the fort and submitted to his chief, who had inspired him with such courage, this evidence of his victory.

So complete a rout immediately brought relief to the hard-pressed companions. It cemented their unity and reminded them afresh of the efficacy of that power with which their Faith had endowed them. Their food, alas, was by this time reduced to the flesh of horses, which they had brought away with them from the deserted camp of the enemy. With steadfast fortitude they endured the afflictions which beset them from every side. Their hearts were set on the wishes of Quddús; all else mattered but little. Neither the severity of their distress nor the continual threats of the enemy could cause them to deviate a hairbreadth from the path which their departed companions had so heroically trodden. A few were found who subsequently faltered in the darkest hour of adversity. The faint-heartedness which this negligible element was compelled to betray paled, however, into insignificance before the radiance which the mass of their stouthearted companions shed in the hour of realised doom.

Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá, who was stationed in Sarí, welcomed with keen delight the news of the defeat that had overtaken the forces under the immediate command of his colleague ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán. Though himself desirous of extirpating the band that had sought shelter behind the walls of the fort, he rejoiced at the knowledge that his rival had failed to secure the victory which he coveted. He wrote immediately to Ṭihrán and demanded that reinforcements in the form of bomb-shells and camel-artillery, with all the necessary equipments, be despatched without delay to the neighbourhood of the fort, he being determined, this time, to effect the complete subjugation of its obstinate occupants.

Whilst their enemies were preparing for yet another and still fiercer attack upon their stronghold, the companions of Quddús, utterly indifferent to the gnawing distress that afflicted them, acclaimed with joy and gratitude the approach of Naw-Rúz. In the course of that festival, they gave free vent to their feelings of thanksgiving and praise in return for the manifold blessings which the Almighty had bestowed upon them. Though oppressed with hunger, they indulged in songs and merriment, utterly disdaining the danger with which they were beset. The fort resounded with the ascriptions of glory and praise which, both in the daytime and in the night-season, ascended from the hearts of that joyous band. The verse, “Holy, holy, the Lord our God, the Lord of the angels and the spirit,” issued unceasingly from their lips, heightened their enthusiasm, and reanimated their courage.

All that remained of the cattle they had brought with them to the fort was a cow which Ḥájí Nasiru’d-Dín-i-Qazvíní had set aside, and the milk of which he made into a pudding every day for the table of Quddús. Unwilling to deny his hunger-stricken friends their share of the delicacy which his devoted companion prepared for him, Quddús would, after partaking of a few teaspoonfuls of that dish, invariably distribute the rest among them. “I have ceased to enjoy,” he was often heard to remark, “since the departure of Mullá Ḥusayn, the meat and drink which they prepare for me. My heart bleeds at the sight of my famished companions, worn and wasted around me.” Despite these adverse circumstances, he unfailingly continued further to elucidate in his commentary the significance of the Sád of Samad, and to exhort his friends to persevere till the vary end in their heroic endeavours. At morn and at eventide, Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir would chant, in the presence of the assembled believers, verses from that commentary, the reading of which would quicken their enthusiasm and brighten their hopes.

I have heard Mullá Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Furúghí testify to the following: “God knows that we had ceased to hunger for food. Our thoughts were no longer concerned with matters pertaining to our daily bread. We were so enraptured by the entrancing melody of those verses that, were we to have continued for years in that state, no trace of weariness and fatigue could possibly have dimmed our enthusiasm or marred our gladness. And whenever the lack of nourishment would tend to sap our vitality and weaken our strength, Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir would hasten to Quddús and acquaint him with our plight. A glimpse of his face, the magic of his words, as he walked amongst us, would transmute our despondency into golden joy. We were reinforced with a strength of such intensity that, had the hosts of our enemies appeared suddenly before us, we felt ourselves capable of subjugating their forces.”

On the day of Naw-Rúz, which fell on the twenty-fourth of Rabí’u’th-Thání in the year 1265 A.H., Quddús alluded, in a written message to his companions, to the approach of such trials as would bring in their wake the martyrdom of a considerable number of his friends. A few days later, an innumerable host, commanded by Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá and seconded by the joint forces of Sulaymán Khán-i-Afshar, of ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání, and of Ja’far-Qulí Khán, assisted by about forty other officers, encamped in the neighbourhood of the fort, and set about constructing a series of trenches and barricades in its immediate vicinity. On the ninth day of the month of Bahá, the commanding officer gave orders to those in charge of his artillery to open fire in the direction of the besieged. While the bombardment was in progress, Quddús emerged from his room and walked to the centre of the fort. His face was wreathed in smiles, and his demeanour breathed forth the utmost tranquillity. As he was pacing the floor, a cannon-ball fell suddenly before him. “How utterly unaware,” he calmly remarked, as he rolled it with his foot, “are these boastful aggressors of the power of God’s avenging wrath! Have they forgotten that a creature as insignificant as the gnat was capable of extinguishing the life of the all-powerful Nimrod? Have they not heard that the roaring of the tempest was sufficient to destroy the people of ‘Ád and Thámúd and to annihilate their forces? Seek they to intimidate the heroes of God, in whose sight the pomp of royalty is but an empty shadow, with such contemptible evidences of their cruelty?” “You are,” he added, as he turned to his friends, “those same companions of whom Muḥammad, the Apostle of God, has thus spoken: ‘Oh, how I long to behold the countenance of my brethren; my brethren who will appear in the end of the world! Blessed are we, blessed are they; greater is their blessedness than ours.’ Beware lest you allow the encroachments of self and desire to impair so glorious a station. Fear not the threats of the wicked, neither be dismayed by the clamour of the ungodly. Each one of you has his appointed hour, and when that time is come, neither the assaults of your enemy nor the endeavours of your friends will be able either to retard or to advance that hour. If the powers of the earth league themselves against you, they will be powerless, ere that hour strikes, to lessen by one jot or tittle the span of your life. Should you allow your hearts to be agitated for but one moment by the booming of these guns which, with increasing violence, will continue to shower their shot upon this fort, you will have cast yourselves out of the stronghold of Divine protection.”

So powerful an appeal could not fail to breathe confidence into the hearts of those who heard it. A few, however, whose countenances betrayed vacillation and fear, were seen huddled together in a sheltered corner of the fort, viewing with envy and surprise the zeal that animated their companions.

The army of Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá continued for a few days to fire in the direction of the fort. His men were surprised to find that the booming of their guns had failed to silence the voice of prayer and the acclamations of joy which the besieged raised in answer to their threats. Instead of the unconditional surrender which they expected, the call of the muadhdhín, the chanting of the verses of the Qur’án, and the chorus of gladsome voices intoning hymns of thanksgiving and praise reached their ears without ceasing.

Exasperated by these evidences of unquenchable fervour and impelled by a burning desire to extinguish the enthusiasm which swelled within the breasts of his opponents, Ja’far-qulí Khán erected a tower, upon which he stationed his cannon, and from that eminence directed his fire into the heart of the fort. Quddús immediately summoned Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir and instructed him to sally again and inflict upon the “boastful newcomer” a humiliation no less crushing than the one which ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán had suffered. “Let him know,” he added, “that God’s lion-hearted warriors, when pressed and driven by hunger, are able to manifest deeds of such heroism as no ordinary mortals can show. Let him know that the greater their hunger, the more devastating shall be the effects of their exasperation.”

Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir again ordered eighteen of his companions to hurry to their steeds and follow him. The gates of the fort were thrown open, and the cry of “Yá Sáhibu’z-Zamán!”—fiercer and more thrilling than ever—diffused panic and consternation in the ranks of the enemy. Ja’far-Qulí Khán, with thirty of his men, fell before the sword of their adversary, who rushed to the tower, captured the guns, and hurled them to the ground. Thence they threw themselves upon the barricade which had been erected, demolished a number of them, and would, but for the approaching darkness, have captured and destroyed the rest.

Triumphant and unhurt, they repaired to the fort, carrying back with them a number of the stoutest and best-fed stallions which had been left behind. A few days elapsed during which there was no sign of a counter-attack. A sudden explosion in one of the ammunition stores of the enemy, which had caused the death of several artillery officers and a number of their fellow-combatants, forced them for one whole month to suspend their attacks upon the garrison. This lull enabled a number of the companions to emerge occasionally from their stronghold and gather such grass as they could find in the field as the only means wherewith to allay their hunger. The flesh of horses, even the leather of their saddles, had been consumed by these hard-pressed companions. They boiled the grass and devoured it with piteous avidity. As their strength declined, as they languished exhausted within the walls of their fort, Quddús multiplied his visits to them, and endeavoured by his words of cheer and of hope to lighten the load of their agony.

The month of Jamádiyu’th-Thání had just begun when the artillery of the enemy was heard again discharging its showers of balls upon the fort. Simultaneously with the booming of the cannons, a detachment of the army, headed by a number of officers and consisting of several regiments of infantry and cavalry, rushed to storm it. The sound of their approach impelled Quddús to summon promptly his valiant lieutenant, Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir, and to bid him emerge with thirty-six of his companions and repulse their attack. “Never since our occupation of this fort,” he added, “have we under any circumstances attempted to direct any offensive against our opponents. Not until they unchained their attack upon us did we arise to defend our lives. Had we cherished the ambition of waging holy war against them, had we harboured the least intention of achieving ascendancy through the power of our arms over the unbelievers, we should not, until this day, have remained besieged within these walls. The force of our arms would have by now, as was the case with the companions of Muḥammad in days past, convulsed the nations of the earth and prepared them for the acceptance of our Message. Such is not the way, however, which we have chosen to tread. Ever since we repaired to this fort, our sole, our unalterable purpose has been the vindication, by our deeds and by our readiness to shed our blood in the path of our Faith, of the exalted character of our mission. The hour is fast approaching when we shall be able to consummate this task.”

Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir once more leaped on horseback and, with the thirty-six companions whom he had selected, confronted and scattered the forces which had beset him. He carried with him, as he re-entered the gate, the banner which an alarmed enemy had abandoned as soon as the reverberating cry of “Yá Sáhibu’z-Zamán!” had been raised. Five of his companions suffered martyrdom in the course of that engagement, all of whom he bore to the fort and interred in one tomb close to the resting place of their fallen brethren.

Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá, astounded by this further evidence of the inexhaustible vitality of his opponents, took counsel with the chiefs of his staff, urging them to devise such means as would enable him to bring that costly enterprise to a speedy end. For three days he deliberated with them, and finally came to the conclusion that the most advisable course to take would be to suspend all manner of hostilities for a few days in the hope that the besieged, exhausted with hunger and goaded by despair, would decide to emerge from their retreat and submit to an unconditional surrender.

As the prince was waiting for the consummation of the plan he had conceived, there arrived from Ṭihrán a messenger bearing to him the farmán of his sovereign. This man was a resident of the village of Kand, a place not far from the capital. He succeeded in obtaining leave from the prince to enter the fort and attempt to induce two of its occupants, Mullá Mihdí and his brother Mullá Báqir-i-Kandí, to escape from the imminent danger to which their lives were exposed. As he approached its walls, he called the sentinels and asked them to inform Mullá Mihdíy-Kandí that an acquaintance of his desired to see him. Mullá Mihdí reported the matter to Quddús, who permitted him to meet his friend.

I have heard Áqáy-i-Kalím give the following account, as related to him by that same messenger whom he met in Ṭihrán: “‘I saw,’ the messenger informed me, ‘Mullá Mihdí appear above the wall of the fort, his countenance revealing an expression of stern resolve that baffled description. He looked as fierce as a lion, his sword was girded on over a long white shirt after the manner of the Arabs, and he had a white kerchief around his head. “What is it that you seek?” he impatiently enquired. “Say it quickly, for I fear that my master will summon me and find me absent.” The determination that glowed in his eyes confused me. I was dumbfounded at his looks and manner. The thought suddenly flashed through my mind that I would awaken a dormant sentiment in his heart. I reminded him of his infant child, Rahmán, whom he had left behind in the village, in his eagerness to enlist under the standard of Mullá Ḥusayn. In his great affection for the child, he had specially composed a poem which he chanted as he rocked his cradle and lulled him to sleep. “Your beloved Rahmán,” I said, “longs for the affection which you once lavished upon him. He is alone and forsaken, and yearns to see you.” “Tell him from me,” was the father’s instant reply, “that the love of the true Rahmán, a love that transcends all earthly affections, has so filled my heart that it has left no place for any other it love besides His.” The poignancy with which he uttered these words brought tears to my eyes. “Accursed,” I indignantly exclaimed, “be those who consider you and your fellow-disciples as having strayed from the path of God!” “What,” I asked him, “if I venture to enter the fort and join you?” “If your motive be to seek and find the Truth,” he calmly replied, “I will gladly show you the way. And if you seek to visit me as an old and lifelong friend, I will accord you the welcome of which the Prophet of God has spoken: ‘Welcome your guests though they be of the infidels.’ I will, faithful to that injunction, offer you the boiled grass and the churned bones which serve as my meat, the best I can procure for you. But if your intention be to harm me, I warn you that I will defend myself and will hurl you from the heights of these walls to the ground.” His unswerving obstinacy convinced me of the futility of my efforts. I could feel that he was fired with such enthusiasm that, were the divines of the realm to assemble and endeavour to dissuade him from the course he had chosen to pursue, he would, alone and unaided, baffle their efforts. Neither, was I convinced, could all the potentates of the earth succeed in luring him away from the Beloved of his heart’s desire. “May the cup,” I was moved to say, “which your lips have tasted, bring you all the blessings you seek.” “The prince,” I added, “has vowed that whoever steps out of this fort will be secure from danger, that he will even receive a safe passage from him, as well as whatever expenses he may require for the journey to his home.” He promised to convey the prince’s message to his fellow-companions. “Is there anything further you wish to tell me?” he added. “I am impatient to join my master.” “May God,” I replied, “assist you in accomplishing your purpose.” “He has indeed assisted me!” he burst forth in exultation. “How else could I have been delivered from the darkness of my prison-home in Kand? How could I have reached this exalted stronghold?” No sooner had he uttered these words than, turning his face away from me, he vanished from my sight.’”

As soon as he had joined his companions, Mullá Mihdí conveyed the prince’s message to them. On the afternoon of that same day, Siyyid Mírzá Ḥusayn-i-Mutavallí, accompanied by his servant, left the fort and went directly to join the prince in his camp. The next day, Rasul-i-Bahnimírí and a few other of his companions, unable to resist the ravages of famine, and encouraged by the explicit assurances or the prince, sadly and reluctantly separated themselves from their friends. No sooner had they stepped out of the fort than they were all instantly slain at the order of ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání.

During the few days that elapsed after that incident, the enemy, still encamped in the neighbourhood of the fort, refrained from any act of hostility towards Quddús and his companions. On Wednesday morning, the sixteenth of Jamádiyu’th-Thání, an emissary of the prince arrived at the fort and requested that two representatives be delegated by the besieged to conduct confidential negotiations with them in the hope of arriving at a peaceful settlement of the issues outstanding between them.

Accordingly, Quddús instructed Mullá Yúsúf-i-Ardibílí and Siyyid Riḍáy-i-Khurasání to act as his representatives, and bade them inform the prince of his readiness to accede to his wish. Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá courteously received them, and invited them to partake of the tea which he had prepared. “We should,” they said, as they declined his offer, “feel it to be an act of disloyalty on our part were we to partake of either meat or drink whilst our beloved leader languishes worn and famished in the fort.” “The hostilities between us,” the prince remarked, “have been unduly prolonged. We, on both sides, have fought long and suffered grievously. It is my fervent wish to achieve an amicable settlement of our differences.” He took hold of a copy of the Qur’án that lay beside him, and wrote, with his own hand, in confirmation of his statement, the following words on the margin of the opening Súrih: “I swear by this most holy Book, by the righteousness of God who has revealed it, and the Mission of Him who was inspired with its verses, that I cherish no other purpose than to promote peace and friendliness between us. Come forth from your stronghold and rest assured that no hand will be stretched forth against you. You yourself and your companions, I solemnly declare, are under the sheltering protection of the Almighty, of Muḥammad, His Prophet, and of Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh, our sovereign. I pledge my honour that no man, either in this army or in this neighbourhood, will ever attempt to assail you. The malediction of God, the omnipotent Avenger, rest upon me if in my heart I cherish any other desire than that which I have stated.

He affixed his seal to his statement and, delivering the Qur’án into the hands of Mullá Yúsúf, asked him to convey his greetings to his leader and to present him this formal and written assurance. “I will,” he added, “in pursuance of my declaration, despatch to the gate of the fort, this very afternoon, a number of horses, which I trust he and his leading companions will accept and mount, in order to ride to the neighbourhood of this camp, where a special tent will have been pitched for their reception. I would request them to be our guests until such time as I shall be able to arrange for their return, at my expense, to their homes.”

Quddús received the Qur’án from the hand of his messenger, kissed it reverently, and said: “O our Lord, decide between us and between our people with truth; for the best to decide art Thou.” Immediately after, he bade the rest of his companions prepare themselves to leave the fort. “By our response to their invitation,” he told them, “we shall enable them to demonstrate the sincerity of their intentions.”

As the hour of their departure approached, Quddús attired his head with the green turban which the Báb had sent to him at the time He sent the one that Mullá Ḥusayn wore on the day of his martyrdom. At the gate of the fort, they mounted the horses which had been placed at their disposal, Quddús mounting the favourite steed of the prince which the latter had sent for his use. His chief companions, among whom were a number of siyyids and learned divines, rode behind him, and were followed by the rest, who marched on foot, carrying with them all that was left of their arms and belongings. As the company, who were two hundred and two in number, reached the tent which the prince had ordered to be pitched for Quddús in the vicinity of the public bath of the village of Dizva, overlooking the camp of the enemy, they alighted and proceeded to occupy their lodgings in the neighbourhood of that tent.

Soon after their arrival, Quddús emerged from his tent and, gathering together his companions, addressed them in these words: “You should show forth exemplary renunciation, for such behaviour on your part will exalt our Cause and redound to its glory. Anything short of complete detachment will but serve to tarnish the purity of its name and to obscure its splendour. Pray the Almighty to grant that even to your last hour He may graciously assist you to contribute your share to the exaltation of His Faith.”

A few hours after sunset, they were served with dinner brought from the camp of the prince. The food that was offered them in separate trays, each of which was assigned to a group of thirty companions, was poor and scanty. “Nine of us,” those who were with Quddús subsequently related, “were summoned by our leader to partake of the dinner which had been served in his tent. As he refused to taste it, we too, following his example, refrained from eating. The attendants who waited upon us were delighted to partake of the dishes which we had refused to touch, and devoured their contents with appreciation and avidity.” A few of the companions who were dining outside the tent were heard remonstrating with the attendants, pleading that they were willing to buy from them, at however exorbitant a price, the bread which they needed. Quddús strongly disapproved of their conduct and rebuked them for the request they had made. But for the intercession of Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir, he would have severely punished them for having so completely disregarded his earnest exhortations.

At daybreak a messenger arrived, summoning Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir to the presence of the prince. With the consent of Quddús, he responded to that invitation, and returned an hour later, informing his chief that the prince had, in the presence of Sulaymán Khán-i-Afshar, reiterated the assurances he had given, and had treated him with great consideration and kindness. “‘My oath,’ he assured me,” Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir explained, “‘is irrevocable and sacred.’ He cited the case of Ja’far-Qulí Khán, who, notwithstanding his shameless massacre of thousands of soldiers of the imperial army, in the course of the insurrection fomented by the Salar, was pardoned by his sovereign and promptly invested with fresh honours by Muḥammad Sháh. To-morrow the prince intends to accompany you in the morning to the public bath, from whence he will proceed to your tent, after which he will provide the horses required to convey the entire company to Sang-Sar, from where they will disperse, some returning to their homes in ‘Iráq, and others proceeding to Khurasán. At the request of Sulaymán Khán, who urged that the presence of such a large gathering at such a fortified centre as Sang-Sar would be fraught with risk, the prince decided that the party should disperse, instead, at Fírúz-Kúh. I am of opinion that what his tongue professes, his heart does not believe at all.” Quddús, who shared his view, bade his companions disperse that very night, and stated that he himself would soon proceed to Barfurúsh. They hastened to implore him not to separate himself from them, and begged to be allowed to continue to enjoy the blessings of his companionship. He counselled them to be calm and patient, and assured them that, whatever afflictions the future might yet reveal, they would meet again. “Weep not,” were his parting words; “the reunion which will follow this separation will be such as shall eternally endure. We have committed our Cause to the care of God; whatever be His will and pleasure, the same we joyously accept.”

The prince failed to redeem his promise. Instead of joining Quddús in his tent, he called him, with several of his companions, to his headquarters, and informed him, as soon as they reached the tent of the Farrásh-Báshí, that he himself would summon him at noon to his presence. Shortly after, a number of the prince’s attendants went and told the rest of the companions that Quddús permitted them to join him at the army’s headquarters. Several of them were deceived by this report, were made captives, and were eventually sold as slaves. These unfortunate victims constitute the remnant of the companions of the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí, who survived that heroic struggle and were spared to transmit to their countrymen the woeful tale of their sufferings and trials.

Soon after, the prince’s attendants brought pressure to bear upon Mullá Yúsúf to inform the remainder of his companions of the desire of Quddús that they immediately disarm. “What is it that you will tell them exactly?” they asked him, as he was being conducted to a place at some distance from the army’s headquarters. “I will,” was the bold reply, “warn them that whatever be henceforth the nature of the message you choose to deliver to them on behalf of their leader, that message is naught but downright falsehood.” These words had hardly escaped his lips when he was mercilessly put to death.

From this savage act they turned their attention to the fort, plundered it of its contents, and proceeded to bombard and demolish it completely. They then immediately encompassed the remaining companions and opened fire upon them. Any who escaped the bullets were killed by the swords of the officers and the spears of their men. In the very throes of death, these unconquerable heroes were still heard to utter the words, “Holy, holy, O Lord our God, Lord of the angels and the spirit,” words which in moments of exultation had fallen from their lips, and which they now repeated with undiminished fervour at this crowning hour of their lives.

As soon as these atrocities hath been perpetrated, the prince ordered those who had been retained as captives to be ushered, one after another, into his presence. Those among them who were men of recognised standing, such as the father of Badí, Mullá Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Furúghí, and Ḥájí Náṣiri’d-Qazvíní, he charged his attendants to conduct to Ṭihrán and obtain in return for their deliverance a ransom from each one of them in direct proportion to their capacity and wealth. As to the rest, he gave orders to his executioners that they be immediately put to death. A few were cut to pieces with the sword, others were torn asunder, a number were bound to trees and riddled with bullets, and still others were blown from the mouths of cannons and consigned to the flames.

This terrible butchery had hardly been concluded when three of the companions of Quddús, who were residents of Sang-Sar, were ushered into the presence of the prince. One of them was Siyyid Aḥmad, whose father, Mír Muḥammad-‘Alí, a devoted admirer of Shaykh Aḥmad-i-Ahsá’í, had been a man of great learning and distinguished merit. He, accompanied by this same Siyyid Aḥmad and his brother, Mír Abu’l-Qásim, who met his death the very night on which Mullá Ḥusayn was slain, had departed for Karbilá in the year preceding the declaration of the Báb, with the intention of introducing his two sons to Siyyid Káẓim. Ere his arrival, the siyyid had departed this life. He immediately determined to leave for Najaf. While in that city, the Prophet Muḥammad one night appeared to him in a dream, bidding the Imám ‘Alí, the Commander of the Faithful, announce to him that after his death both his sons, Siyyid Aḥmad and Mír Abu’l-Qásim, would attain the presence of the promised Qá’im and would each suffer martyrdom in His path. As soon as he awoke, he called for his son Siyyid Aḥmad and acquainted him with his will and last wishes. On the seventh day after that dream he died.

In Sang-Sar two other persons, Karbilá’í ‘Alí and Karbilá’í Abú-Muḥammad, both known for their piety and spiritual insight, strove to prepare the people for the acceptance of the promised Revelation, the advent of which they felt was fast approaching. In the year 1264 A.H. they publicly announced that in that very year a man named Siyyid ‘Alí would, preceded by a Black Standard and accompanied by a number of his chosen companions, set forth from Khurasán and proceed to Mázindarán. They urged every loyal adherent of Islám to arise and lend him every possible assistance. “The standard which he will hoist,” they declared, “will be none other than the standard of the promised Qá’im; he who will unfurl it, none other than His lieutenant and chief promoter of His Cause. Whoso follows him will be saved, and he who turns away will be among the fallen.” Karbilá’í Abú-Muḥammad urged his two sons, Abu’l-Qásim and Muḥammad-‘Alí, to arise for the triumph of the new Revelation and to sacrifice every material consideration for the attainment of that end. Both Karbilá’í Abú-Muḥammad and Karbilá’í ‘Alí died in the spring of that same year.

These two sons of Karbilá’í Abú-Muḥammad were the two companions who had been ushered, together with Siyyid Aḥmad, into the presence of the prince. Mullá Zaynu’l-’Abidin-i-Sháhmírzádí, one of the trusted and learned counsellors of the government, acquainted the prince with their story and related the experiences and activities of their respective fathers. “For what reason,” Siyyid Aḥmad was asked, “have you chosen to tread a path that has involved you and your kinsmen in such circumstances of wretchedness and disgrace? Could you not have been satisfied with the vast number of erudite and illustrious divines who are to be found in this land and in ‘Iráq?” “My faith in this Cause,” he fearlessly retorted, “is born not of idle imitation. I have dispassionately enquired into its precepts, and am convinced of its truth. When in Najaf, I ventured to request the preeminent mujtahid of that city, Shaykh Muḥammad-Ḥasan-i-Najafí, to expound for me certain truths connected with the secondary principles underlying the teachings of Islám. He refused to accede to my request. I reiterated my appeal, whereupon he angrily rebuked me and persisted in his refusal. How can I, in the light of such experience, be expected to seek enlightenment on the abstruse articles of the Faith of Islám from a divine, however illustrious, who refuses to answer my question on such simple and ordinary matters and who expresses his indignation at my having put such questions to him?” “What is your belief concerning Ḥájí Muḥammad-‘Alí?” asked the prince. “We believe,” he replied, “Mullá Ḥusayn to have been the bearer of the standard of which Muḥammad has spoken: ‘Should your eyes behold the Black Standards proceeding from Khurasán, hasten ye towards them, even though ye should have to crawl over the snow.’ For this reason we have renounced the world and have flocked to his standard, a standard which is but a symbol of our Faith. If you wish to bestow upon me a favour, bid your executioner put an end to me and enable me to be gathered to the company of my immortal companions. For the world and all its charms have ceased to allure me. I long to depart this life and return to my God.” The prince, who was reluctant to take the life of a siyyid, refused to order his execution. His two companions, however, were immediately put to death. He, with his brother Siyyid Abú-Talíb, was delivered into the hands of Mullá Zaynu’l-Ábidín, who was instructed to conduct them to Sang-Sar.

Meanwhile Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí, accompanied by seven of the ‘ulamás of Sarí, set out from that town to share in the meritorious act of inflicting the punishment of death upon the companions of Quddús. When they found that they had already been put to death, Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí urged the prince to reconsider his decision and to order the immediate execution of Siyyid Aḥmad, pleading that his arrival at Sarí would be the signal for fresh disturbances as grave as those which had already afflicted them. The prince eventually yielded, on the express condition that he be regarded as his guest until his own arrival at Sarí, at which time he would take whatever measures were required to prevent him from disturbing the peace of the neighbourhood.

No sooner had Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí taken the direction of Sarí than he proceeded to vilify Siyyid Aḥmad and his father. “Why ill-treat a guest,” his captive pleaded, “whom the prince has committed to your charge? Why ignore the Prophet’s injunction, ‘Honour thy guest though he be an infidel’?” Roused to a burst of fury, Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí, together with his seven companions, drew their swords and cut his body to pieces. With his last breath Siyyid Aḥmad was heard invoking the aid of the Sáhibu’z-Zamán. As to his brother Siyyid Abú-Talíb, he was safely conducted to Sang-Sar by Mullá Zaynu’l-Ábidín, and to this day resides with his brother Siyyid Muḥammad-Riḍá in Mázindarán. Both are engaged in the service of the Cause and are accounted among its active supporters.

As soon as his work was completed, the prince, accompanied by Quddús, returned to Barfurúsh. They arrived on Friday afternoon, the eighteenth of Jamádiyu’th-Thání. The Sa‘ídu’l-‘Ulamá’, together with all the ‘ulamás of the town, came out to welcome the prince and to extend their congratulations on his triumphal return. The whole town was beflagged to celebrate the victory, and the bonfires which blazed at night witnessed to the joy with which a grateful population greeted the return of the prince. Three days of festivities elapsed during which he gave no indication as to his intention regarding the fate of Quddús. He vacillated in his policy, and was extremely reluctant to ill-treat his captive. He at first refused to allow the people to gratify their feelings of unrelenting hatred, and was able to restrain their fury. He had originally intended to conduct him to Ṭihrán and, by delivering him into the hands of his sovereign, to relieve himself of the responsibility which weighed upon him.

The Sa‘ídu’l-‘Ulamá’’s unquenchable hostility, however, interfered with the execution of this plan. The hatred with which Quddús and his Cause inspired him blazed into furious rage as he witnessed the increasing evidences of the prince’s inclination to allow so formidable an opponent to slip from his grasp. Day and night he remonstrated with him and, with every cunning that his resourceful brain could devise, sought to dissuade him from pursuing a policy which he thought to be at once disastrous and cowardly. In the fury of his despair, he appealed to the mob and sought, by inflaming their passions, to awaken the basest sentiments of revenge in their hearts. The whole of Barfurúsh had been aroused by the persistency of his call. His diabolical skill soon won him the sympathy and support of the masses. “I have vowed,” he imperiously protested, “to deny myself both food and sleep until such time as I am able to end the life of Ḥájí Muḥammad-‘Alí with my own hands!” The threats of an agitated multitude reinforced his plea and succeeded in arousing the apprehensions of the prince. Fearing that his own life might be endangered, he summoned to his presence the leading ‘ulamás of Barfurúsh for the purpose of consulting as to the measures that should be taken to allay the tumult of popular excitement. All those who had been invited responded with the exception of Mullá Muḥammad-i-Ḥamzih, who pleaded to be excused from attending that meeting. He had previously, on several occasions, endeavoured, during the siege of the fort, to persuade the people to refrain from violence. To him Quddús, a few days before his abandonment of the fort, had committed, through one of his trusted companions of Mázindarán, a locked saddlebag containing the text of his own interpretation of the Sád of Samad as well as all his other writings and papers that he had in his possession, the fate of which remains unknown until the present day.

No sooner had the ‘ulamás assembled than the prince gave orders for Quddús to be brought into their presence. Since the day of his abandoning the fort, Quddús, who had been delivered into the custody of the Farrásh-Báshí, had not been summoned to his presence. As soon as he arrived, the prince arose and invited him to be seated by his side. Turning to the Sa‘ídu’l-‘Ulamá’, he urged that his conversations with him be dispassionately and conscientiously conducted. “Your discussions,” he asserted, “must revolve around, and be based upon, the verses of the Qur’án and the traditions of Muḥammad, by which means alone you can demonstrate the truth or falsity of your contentions.” “For what reason,” the Sa‘ídu’l-‘Ulamá’ impertinently enquired, “have you, by choosing to place a green turban upon your head, arrogated to yourself a right which only he who is a true descendant of the Prophet can claim? Do you not know that whoso defies this sacred tradition is accursed of God?” “Was Siyyid Murtadá,” Quddús calmly replied, “whom all the recognised ‘ulamás praise and esteem, a descendant of the Prophet through his father or his mother?” One of those present at that gathering instantly declared the mother alone to have been a siyyid. “Why, then, object to me,” retorted Quddús, “since my mother was always recognised by the inhabitants of this town as a lineal descendant of the Imám Ḥasan? Was she not, because of her descent, honoured, nay venerated, by every one of you?”

No one dared to contradict him. The Sa‘ídu’l-‘Ulamá’ burst forth into a fit of indignation and despair. Angrily he flung his turban to the ground and arose to leave the meeting. “This man,” he thundered, ere he departed, “has succeeded in proving to you that he is a descendent of the Imám Ḥasan. He will, ere long, justify his claim to be the mouthpiece of God and the revealer of His will!” The prince was moved to make this declaration: “I wash my hands of all responsibility for any harm that may befall this man. You are free to do what you like with him. You will yourselves be answerable to God on the Day of Judgment.” Immediately after he had spoken these words, he called for his horse and, accompanied by his attendants, departed for Sarí. Intimidated by the imprecations of the ‘ulamás and forgetful of his oath, he abjectly surrendered Quddús to the hands of an unrelenting foe, those ravening wolves who panted for the moment when they could pounce, with uncontrolled violence, upon their prey, and let loose on him the fiercest passions of revenge and hate.

No sooner had the prince freed them from the restraints which he had exercised than the ‘ulamás and the people of Barfurúsh, acting under orders from the Sa‘ídu’l-‘Ulamá’, arose to perpetrate upon the body of their victim acts of such atrocious cruelty as no pen can describe. By the testimony of Bahá’u’lláh, that heroic youth, who was still on the threshold of his life, was subjected to such tortures and suffered such a death as even Jesus had not faced in the hour of His greatest agony. The absence of any restraint on the part of the government authorities, the ingenious barbarity which the torture-mongers of Barfurúsh so ably displayed, the fierce fanaticism which glowed in the breasts of its shí’ah inhabitants, the moral support accorded to them by the dignitaries of Church and State in the capital—above all, the acts of heroism which their victim and his companions had accomplished and which had served to heighten their exasperation, all combined to nerve the hand of the assailants and to add to the diabolical ferocity which characterised his martyrdom.

Such were its circumstances that the Báb, who was then confined in the castle of Chihríq, was unable for a period of six months either to write or to dictate. The deep grief which he felt had stilled the voice of revelation and silenced His pen. How deeply He mourned His loss! What cries of anguish He must have uttered as the tale of the siege, the untold sufferings, the shameless betrayal, and the wholesale massacre of the companions of Shaykh Ṭabarsí reached His ears and was unfolded before His eyes! What pangs of sorrow He must have felt when He learned of the shameful treatment which His beloved Quddús had undergone in his hour of martyrdom at the hands of the people of Barfurúsh; how he was stripped of his clothes; how the turban which He had bestowed upon him had been befouled; how, barefooted, bareheaded, and loaded with chains, he was paraded through the streets, followed and scorned by the entire population of the town; how he was execrated and spat upon by the howling mob; how he was assailed with the knives and axes of the scum of its female inhabitants; how his body was pierced and mutilated, and how eventually it was delivered to the flames!

Amidst his torments, Quddús was heard whispering forgiveness to his foes. “Forgive, O my God,” he cried, “the trespasses of this people. Deal with them in Thy mercy, for they know not what we already have discovered and cherish. I have striven to show them the path that leads to their salvation; behold how they have risen to overwhelm and kill me! Show them, O God, the way of Truth, and turn their ignorance into faith.” In his hour of agony, the Siyyid-i-Qumí, who had so treacherously deserted the fort, was seen passing by his side. Observing his helplessness, he smote him in the face. “You claimed,” he cried in haughty scorn, “that your voice was the voice of God. If you speak the truth, burst your bonds asunder and free yourself from the hands of your enemies.” Quddús looked steadfastly into his face, sighed deeply, and said: “May God requite you for your deed, inasmuch as you have helped to add to the measure of my afflictions.” Approaching the Sabzih-Maydán, he raised his voice and said: “Would that my mother were with me, and could see with her own eyes the splendour of my nuptials!” He had scarcely spoken these words when the enraged multitude fell upon him and, tearing his body to pieces, threw the scattered members into the fire which they had kindled far that purpose. In the middle of the night, what still remained of the fragments of that burned and mutilated body was gathered by the hand of a devoted friend and interred in a place not far distant from the scene of his martyrdom.

It would be appropriate at this juncture to place on record the names of those martyrs who participated in the defence of the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí, in the hope that generations yet to come may recall with pride and gratitude the names, no less than the deeds, of those pioneers who, by their life and death, have so greatly enriched the annals of God’s immortal Faith. Such names as I have been able to collect from various sources, and for which I am particularly indebted to Ismu’lláhu’l-Mím, Ismu’lláhu’l-Javád, and Ismu’lláhu’l-Asad, I now proceed to enumerate, trusting that even as in the world beyond their souls have been invested with the light of unfading glory, their names may likewise linger for ever on the tongues of men; that their mention may continue to evoke a like spirit of enthusiasm and devotion in the hearts of those to whom this priceless heritage has been transmitted. From my informants I not only have been able to gather the names of most of those who fell in the course of that memorable siege, but have also succeeded in obtaining a representative, though incomplete, list of all those martyrs who, from the year ’60 until the present day, the latter part of the month of Rabí’u’l-Avval in the year 1306 A.H., have laid down their lives in the path of the Cause of God. It is my intention to make mention of each of these names in connection with the particular event with which it is chiefly connected. As to those who quaffed the cup of martyrdom while defending the fort of Ṭabarsí, their names are as follows:

1. First and foremost among them stands Quddús, upon whom the Báb bestowed the name of Ismu’lláhu’l-Akhar. He, the Last Letter of the Living and the Báb’s chosen companion on His pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, was, together with Mullá Ṣádiq and Mullá ‘Alí-Akbar-i-Ardistání, the first to suffer persecution on Persian soil for the sake of the Cause of God. He was only eighteen years of age when he left his native town of Barfurúsh for Karbilá. For about four years he sat at the feet of Siyyid Káẓim, and at the age of twenty-two met and recognised his Beloved in Shíráz. Five years later, on the twenty-third day of Jamádiyu’th-Thání in the year 1265 A.H., he was destined to fall, in the Sabzih-Maydán of Barfurúsh, a victim of the most refined and wanton barbarity at the hands of the enemy. The Báb and, at a later time, Bahá’u’lláh have mourned in unnumbered Tablets and prayers his loss, and have lavished on him their eulogies. Such was the honour accorded to him by Bahá’u’lláh that in His commentary on the verse of Kullu’t-Tá’am, which He revealed while in Baghdád, He conferred upon him the unrivalled station of the Nuqṭiy-i-Ukhrá, a station second to none except that of the Báb Himself.

2. Mullá Ḥusayn, surnamed the Bábu’l-Báb, the first to recognise and embrace the new Revelation. At the age of eighteen, he, too, departed from his native town of Bushrúyih in Khurasán for Karbilá, and for a period of nine years remained closely associated with Siyyid Káẓim. Four years prior to the Declaration of the Báb, acting according to the instructions of Siyyid Káẓim, he met in Iṣfahán the learned mujtahid Siyyid Báqir-i-Rashtí and in Mashhad Mírzá Askarí, to both of whom he delivered with dignity and eloquence the messages with which he had been entrusted by his leader. The circumstances attending his martyrdom evoked the Báb’s inexpressible sorrow, a sorrow that found vent in eulogies and prayers of such great number as would be equivalent to thrice the volume of the Qur’án. In one of His visiting Tablets, the Báb asserts that the very dust of the ground where the remains of Mullá Ḥusayn lie buried is endowed with such potency as to bring joy to the disconsolate and healing to the sick. In the Kitáb-i-Íqán, Bahá’u’lláh extols with still greater force the virtues of Mullá Ḥusayn. “But for him,” He writes, “God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor have ascended the throne of eternal glory!”

3. Mírzá Muḥammad-Ḥasan, the brother of Mullá Ḥusayn.

4. Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir, the nephew of Mullá Ḥusayn. He, as well as Mírzá Muḥammad-Ḥasan, accompanied Mullá Ḥusayn from Bushrúyih to Karbilá and from thence to Shíráz, where they embraced the Message of the Báb and were enrolled among the Letters of the Living. With the exception of the journey of Mullá Ḥusayn to the castle of Máh-Kú, they continued to be with him until the time they suffered martyrdom in the fort of Ṭabarsí.

5. The brother-in-law of Mullá Ḥusayn, the father of Mírzá Abu’l-Ḥasan and Mírzá Muḥammad-Ḥusayn, both of whom are now in Bushrúyih, and into whose hands the care of the Varaqatu’l-Firdaws, Mullá Ḥusayn’s sister, is committed. Both are firm and devoted adherents of the Faith.

6. The son of Mullá Aḥmad, the elder brother of Mullá Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Furúghí. He, unlike his uncle, Mullá Mírzá Muḥammad, suffered martyrdom and was, as testified by the latter, a youth of great piety and distinguished for his learning and his integrity of character.

7. Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir, known as Haratí, though originally a resident of Qayin. He was a close relative of the father of Nabíl-i-Akbar, and was the first in Mashhad to embrace the Cause. It was he who built the Bábíyyih, and who devotedly served Quddús during his sojourn in that city. When Mullá Ḥusayn hoisted the Black Standard, he, together with his child, Mírzá Muḥammad-Káẓim, eagerly enrolled under his banner and went forth with him to Mázindarán. That child was saved eventually, and has now grown up into a fervent and active supporter of the Faith in Mashhad. It was Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir who acted as the standard-bearer of the company, who designed the plan of the fort, its walls and turrets and the moat which surrounded it, who succeeded Mullá Ḥusayn in organising the forces of his companions and in leading the charge against the enemy, and who acted as the intimate companion, the lieutenant and trusted counsellor of Quddús until the hour when he fell a martyr in the path of the Cause.

8. Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqíy-i-Juvayní, a native of Sabzihvar, who was distinguished for his literary accomplishments and was often entrusted by Mullá Ḥusayn with the task of leading the charge against the assailants. His head and that of his fellow-companion, Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir, were impaled on spears and paraded through the streets of Barfurúsh, amid the shouts and howling of an excited populace.

9. Qambar-‘Alí, the fearless and faithful servant of Mullá Ḥusayn, who accompanied him on his journey to Máh-Kú and who suffered martyrdom on the very night on which his master fell a victim to the bullets of the enemy.

10. Ḥasan and

11. Qulí, who, together with a man named Iskandar, a native of Zanján, bore the body of Mullá Ḥusayn to the fort on the night of his martyrdom and placed it at the feet of Quddús. He it was, the same Ḥasan, who, by the orders of the chief constable of Mashhad, was led by a halter through the streets of that city.

12. Muḥammad-Ḥasan, the brother of Mullá Ṣádiq, whom the comrades of Khusraw slew on the way between Barfurúsh and the fort of Ṭabarsí. He distinguished himself by his unwavering constancy, and had been one of the servants of the shrine of the Imám Riḍá.

13. Siyyid Riḍá, who, with Mullá Yúsúf-i-Ardibílí, was commissioned by Quddús to meet the prince, and who brought back with him the sealed copy of the Qur’án bearing the oath which the prince had written. He was one of the well-known siyyids of Khurasán, and was recognised for his learning as well as for the integrity of his character.

14. Mullá Mardán-‘Alí, one of the noted companions from Khurasán, a resident of the village of Miyamay, the site of a well-fortified fortress situated between Sabzihvar and Sháh-Rud. He, together with thirty-three companions, enlisted under the banner of Mullá Ḥusayn on the day of the latter’s passage through that village. It was in the masjid of Miyamay, to which Mullá Ḥusayn had repaired in order to offer the Friday congregational prayer, that he delivered his soul-stirring appeal in which he laid stress upon the fulfilment of the tradition relating to the hoisting of the Black Standard in Khurasán, and in which he declared himself to be its bearer. His eloquent address profoundly impressed his hearers, so much so that on that very day the majority of those who heard him, most of whom were men of distinguished merit, arose and followed him. Only one of those thirty-three companions, a Mullá Isa, survived, whose sons are at present in the village of Miyamay, actively engaged in the service of the Cause. The names of the martyred companions of that village are as follows:

15. Mullá Muḥammad-Mihdí,

16. Mullá Muḥammad-Ja’far,

17. Mullá Muḥammad-ibn-i-Mullá Muḥammad,

18. Mullá Raḥím,

19. Mullá Muḥammad-Riḍá,

20. Mullá Muḥammad-Ḥusayn,

21. Mullá Muḥammad,

22. Mullá Yúsúf,

23. Mullá Ya’qub,

24. Mullá ‘Alí,

25. Mullá Zaynu’l-Ábidín,

26. Mullá Muḥammad, son of Mullá Zaynu’l-Ábidín,

27. Mullá Báqir,

28. Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Muḥammad,

29. Mullá Abu’l-Ḥasan,

30. Mullá Ismá’íl,

31. Mullá ‘Abdu’l-‘Alí,

32. Mullá Áqá-Bábá,

33. Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Javád,

34. Mullá Muḥammad-Ḥusayn,

35. Mullá Muḥammad-Báqir,

36. Mullá Muḥammad,

37. Ḥájí Ḥasan,

38. Karbilá’í ‘Alí,

39. Mullá Karbilá’í ‘Alí,

40. Karbilá’í Núr-Muḥammad,

41. Muḥammad-Ibráhím,

42. Muḥammad-Sa’im,

43. Muḥammad-Hádí,

44. Siyyid Mihdí,

45. Abú-Muḥammad.

Of the companions of the village of Sang-Sar, which forms part of the district of Simnán, eighteen were martyred. Their names are as follows:

46. Siyyid Aḥmad, whose body was cut to pieces by Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí and the seven ‘ulamás of Sarí. He was a noted divine and greatly esteemed for his eloquence and piety.

47. Mír Abu’l-Qásim, Siyyid Aḥmad’s brother, who won the crown of martyrdom on the very night on which Mullá Ḥusayn met his death.

48. Mír Mihdí, the paternal uncle of Siyyid Aḥmad,

49. Mír Ibráhím, the brother-in-law of Siyyid Aḥmad,

50. Safar-‘Alí, the son of Karbilá’í ‘Alí, who, together with Karbilá’í Muḥammad, had so strenuously endeavoured to awaken the people of Sang-Sar from their sleep of heedlessness. Both of them, owing to their infirmities, were unable to proceed to the fort of Ṭabarsí.

51. Muḥammad-‘Alí, the son of Karbilá’í Abú-Muḥammad,

52. Abu’l-Qásim, the brother of Muḥammad-‘Alí,

53. Karbilá’í Ibráhím,

54. ‘Alí-Aḥmad,

55. Mullá ‘Alí-Akbar,

56. Mullá Ḥusayn-‘Alí,

57. ‘Abbás-‘Alí,

58. Ḥusayn-‘Alí,

59. Mullá ‘Alí-Aṣghar,

60. Karbilá’í Ismá’íl,

61. ‘Alí Khán,

62. Muḥammad-Ibráhím,

63. ‘Abdu’l-‘Aẓím.

From the village of Sháh-Mirzad, two fell in defending the fort:

64. Mullá Abú-Raḥím and

65. Karbilá’í Káẓim.

As to the adherents of the Faith in Mázindarán, twenty-seven martyrs have thus far been recorded:

66. Mullá Riḍáy-i-Sháh,

67. Aẓím,

68. Karbilá’í Muḥammad-Ja’far,

69. Siyyid Ḥusayn,

70. Muḥammad-Báqir,

71. Siyyid Razzaq,

72. Ustád Ibráhím,

73. Mullá Sa‘íd-i-Zirih-Kinárí,

74. Riḍáy-i-‘Arab,

75. Rasul-i-Bahnimírí,

76. Muḥammad-Ḥusayn, the brother of Rasul-i-Bahnimírí,

77. Táhir,

78. Sháfí,

79. Qásim,

80. Mullá Muḥammad-Ján,

81. Masíh, the brother of Mullá Muḥammad-Ján,

82. Ita-Bábá,

83. Yúsúf,

84. Faḍlu’lláh,

85. Bábá,

86. Safi-Qulí,

87. Nizám,

88. Rúḥu’lláh,

89. ‘Alí-Qulí,

90. Sulṭán,

91. Ja’far,

92. Khalíl.

Of the believers of Savád-Kúh, the five following names have thus far been ascertained:

93. Karbilá’í Qambar-Kalish,

94. Mullá Nad-‘Alíy-i-Mutavallí,

95. ‘Abdu’l-Haqq,

96. Itabaki-Chúpán,

97. Son of Itabaki-Chúpán.

From the town of Ardistán, the following have suffered martyrdom:

98. Mírzá ‘Alí-Muḥammad, son of Mírzá Muḥammad-Sa‘íd,

99. Mírzá ‘Abdu’-Vasí, son of Ḥájí ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb,

100. Muḥammad-Ḥusayn, son of Ḥájí Muḥammad-Ṣádiq,

101. Muḥammad-Mihdí, son of Ḥájí Muḥammad-Ibráhím,

102. Mírzá Aḥmad, son of Muḥsin,

103. Mírzá Muḥammad, son of Mír Muḥammad-Taqí.

From the city of Iṣfahán, thirty have thus far been recorded:

104. Mullá Ja’far, the sifter of wheat, whose name has been mentioned by the Báb in the Persian Bayán.

105. Ustád Áqá, surnamed Buzurg-Banná,

106. Ustád Ḥasan, son of Ustád Áqá,

107. Ustád Muḥammad, son of Ustád Áqá,

108. Muḥammad-Ḥusayn, son of Ustád Áqá, whose younger brother Ustád Ja’far was sold several times by his enemies until he reached his native city, where he now resides.

109. Ustád Qurban-‘Alíy-i-Banná,

110. ‘Alí-Akbar, son of Ustád Qurban-‘Alíy-i-Banná,

111. ‘Abdu’lláh, son of Ustád Qurban-‘Alí-i-Banna,

112. Muḥammad-i-Báqir-Naqsh, the maternal uncle of Siyyid Yaḥyá, son of Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alíy-i-Nahrí. He was fourteen years old and was martyred the very night that Mullá Ḥusayn met his death.

113. Mullá Muḥammad-Taqí,

114. Mullá Muḥammad-Riḍá, both brothers of the late ‘Abdu’s-Ṣáliḥ, the gardener of the Riḍván at ‘Akká.

115. Mullá Aḥmad-i-Saffar,

116. Mullá Ḥusayn-i-Miskar,

117. Aḥmad-i-Payvandí,

118. Ḥasan-i-Sha’r-Baf-i-Yazdí,

119. Muḥammad-Taqí,

120. Muḥammad-’Attar, brother of Ḥasan-i-Sha’r-Baf,

121. Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Khaliq, who cut his throat in Badasht and whom Ṭáhirih named Dhabíh.

122. Ḥusayn,

123. Abu’l-Qásim, brother of Ḥusayn,

124. Mírzá Muḥammad-Riḍá,

125. Mullá Haydar, brother of Mírzá Muḥammad-Riḍá,

126. Mírzá Mihdí,

127. Muḥammad-Ibráhím,

128. Muḥammad-Ḥusayn, surnamed Dastmál-Girih-Zan,

129. Muḥammad-Ḥasan-i-Chit-Saz, a well-known cloth manufacturer who attained the presence of the Báb.

130. Muḥammad-Ḥusayn-i-’Attar,

131. Ustád Ḥájí Muḥammad-i-Banna,

132. Maḥmúd-i-Muqari’í, a noted cloth dealer. He was newly married and had attained the presence of the Báb in the castle of Chihríq. The Báb urged him to proceed to the Jazíriy-i-Khadrá and to lend his assistance to Quddús. While in Ṭihrán, he received a letter from his brother announcing the birth of a son and entreating him to hasten to Iṣfahán to see him, and then to proceed to whichever place he felt inclined. “I am too much fired,” he replied, “with the love of this Cause to be able to devote any attention to my son. I am impatient to join Quddús and to enlist under his banner.”

133. Siyyid Muḥammad-Riḍáy-i-Pa-Qal’iyí, a distinguished siyyid and a highly esteemed divine, whose declared purpose to enlist under the banner of Mullá Ḥusayn caused a great tumult among the ‘ulamás of Iṣfahán.

Among the believers of Shíráz, the following attained the station of martyrdom:

134. Mullá ‘Abdu’lláh, known also by the name of Mírzá Ṣáliḥ,

135. Mullá Zaynu’l-Ábidín,

136. Mírzá Muḥammad.

Of the adherents of the Faith in Yazd, only four have thus far been recorded:

137. The siyyid who walked on foot all the way from Khurasán to Barfurúsh, where he fell a victim to the bullet of the enemy.

138. Siyyid Aḥmad, the father of Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-‘Azíz, the amanuensis of the Báb,

139. Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí, son of Siyyid Aḥmad, whose head was blown off by the ball from a cannon as he was standing at the entrance of the fort, and who, because of his tender age, was greatly loved and admired by Quddús.

140. Shaykh ‘Alí, son of Shaykh ‘Abdu’l-Kháliq-i-Yazdí, a resident of Mashhad, a youth whose enthusiasm and untiring energy were greatly praised by Mullá Ḥusayn and Quddús.

Of the believers of Qazvín, the following were martyred:

141. Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí, a noted divine, whose father, Ḥájí Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb, was one of the most distinguished mujtahids in Qazvín. He attained the presence of the Báb in Shíráz, and was enrolled as one of the Letters of the Living.

142. Muḥammad-Hádí, a noted merchant, son of Ḥájí ‘Abdu’l-Karím, surnamed Baghban-Báshí,

143. Siyyid Aḥmad,

144. Mírzá ‘Abdu’l-Jalíl, a noted divine,

145. Mírzá Mihdí.

146. From the village of Lahard, a man named Ḥájí Muḥammad-‘Alí, who had greatly suffered as a result of the murder of Mullá Taqí in Qazvín.

Of the believers of Khúy, the following have suffered martyrdom:

147. Mullá Mihdí, a distinguished divine, who had been one of the esteemed disciples of Siyyid Káẓim. He was noted for his learning, his eloquence, and his staunchness of faith.

148. Mullá Maḥmúd-i-Khú’í, brother of Mullá Mihdí, one of the Letters of the Living and a distinguished divine.

149. Mullá Yúsúf-i-Ardibílí, one of the Letters of the Living, noted for his learning, his enthusiasm and eloquence. It was he who had aroused the apprehensions of Ḥájí Karím Khán on his arrival at Kirmán, and who struck terror to the hearts of his adversaries. “This man,” Ḥájí Karím Khán was heard to say to his congregation, “must needs be expelled from this town, for if he be allowed to remain, he will assuredly cause the same tumult in Kirmán as he has already done in Shíráz. The injury he will inflict will be irreparable. The magic of his eloquence and the force of his personality, if they do not already excel those of Mullá Ḥusayn, are certainly not inferior to them.” By this means he was able to force him to curtail his stay in Kirmán and to prevent him from addressing the people from the pulpit. The Báb gave him the following instructions: “You must visit the towns and cities of Persia and summon their inhabitants to the Cause of God. On the first day of the month of Muharram in the year 1265 A.H., you must be in Mázindarán and must arise to lend every assistance in your power to Quddús.” Mullá Yúsúf, faithful to the instructions of his Master, refused to prolong his stay beyond a week in any of the towns and cities which he visited. On his arrival in Mázindarán, he was made captive by the forces of Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá, who immediately recognised him and gave orders that he be imprisoned. He was eventually released, as we have already observed, by the companions of Mullá Ḥusayn on the day of the battle of Vas-Kas.

150. Mullá Jalíl-i-Urúmí, one of the Letters of the Living, noted for his learning, his eloquence, and tenacity of faith.

151. Mullá Aḥmad, a resident of Marághih, one of the Letters of the Living, and a distinguished disciple of Siyyid Káẓim.

152. Mullá Mihdíy-i-Kandí, a close companion of Bahá’u’lláh, and a tutor to the children of His household.

153. Mullá Báqir, brother of Mullá Mihdí, both of whom were men of considerable learning, to whose great attainments Bahá’u’lláh testifies in the “Kitáb-i-Íqán.”

154. Siyyid Káẓim, a resident of Zanján, and one of its noted merchants. He attained the presence of the Báb in Shíráz, and accompanied Him to Iṣfahán. His brother, Siyyid Murtadá, was one of the Seven Martyrs of Ṭihrán.

155. Iskandar, also a resident of Zanján, who, together with Ḥasan and Qulí, bore the body of Mullá Ḥusayn to the fort.

156. Ismá’íl,

157. Karbilá’í ‘Abdu’l-‘Alí,

158. ‘Abdu’l-Muḥammad,

159. Ḥájí ‘Abbás,

160. Siyyid Aḥmad—all residents of Zanján.

161. Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Kuláh-Duz, a resident of Barfurúsh, whose head was impaled on a lance and was paraded through its streets.

162. Mullá Ḥasan-i-Rashtí,

163. Mullá Ḥasan-i-Bayajmandí,

164. Mullá Ni’matu’lláh-i-Barfurúshí,

165. Mullá Muḥammad-Taqíy-i-Qarakhilí,

166. Ustád Zaynu’l-Ábidín,

167. Ustád Qásim, son of Ustád Zaynu’l-Ábidín,

168. Ustád ‘Alí-Akbar, brother of Ustád Zaynu’l-Ábidín.

The last three were masons by profession, were natives of Kirmán, and resided in Qayin in the province of Khurasán.

169 and 170. Mullá Riḍáy-i-Sháh and a young man from Bahnimir were slain two days after the abandonment of the fort by Quddús, in the Panj-Shanbih-Bazar of Barfurúsh. Ḥájí Mullá Muḥammad-i-Ḥamzih, surnamed the Sharí’at-Madar, succeeded in burying their bodies in the neighbourhood of the Masjid-i-Káẓim-Big, and in inducing their murderer to repent and ask forgiveness.

171. Mullá Muḥammad-i-Mu’allim-i-Núrí, an intimate companion of Bahá’u’lláh who was closely associated with Him in Núr, in Ṭihrán, and in Mázindarán. He was famed for his intelligence and learning, and was subjected, Quddús only excepted, to the severest atrocities that have ever befallen a defender of the fort of Ṭabarsí. The prince had promised that he would release him on condition that he would execrate the name of Quddús, and had pledged his word that, should he be willing to recant, he would take him back with him to Ṭihrán and make him the tutor of his sons. “Never will I consent,” he replied, “to vilify the beloved of God at the bidding of a man such as you. Were you to confer upon me the whole of the kingdom of Persia, I would not for one moment turn my face from my beloved leader. My body is at your mercy, my soul you are powerless to subdue. Torture me as you will, that I may be enabled to demonstrate to you the truth of the verse, ‘Then, wish for death, if ye be men of truth.’” The prince, infuriated by his answer, gave orders that his body be cut to pieces and that no effort be spared to inflict upon him a most humiliating punishment.

172. Ḥájí Muḥammad-i-Karrádí, whose home was situated in one of the palm groves adjoining the old city of Baghdád, a man of great courage who had fought and led a hundred men in the war against Ibráhím Páshá of Egypt. He had been a fervent disciple of Siyyid Káẓim, and was the author of a long poem in which he expatiated upon the virtues and merits of the siyyid. He was seventy-five years old when he embraced the Faith of the Báb, whom he likewise eulogised in an eloquent and detailed poem. He distinguished himself by his heroic acts during the siege of the fort, and eventually became a victim of the bullets of the enemy.

173. Sa‘íd-i-Jabbáví, a native of Baghdád, who displayed extraordinary courage during the siege. He was shot in the abdomen, and, though severely wounded, managed to walk until he reached the presence of Quddús. He joyously threw himself at his feet and expired.

The circumstances of the martyrdom of these last two companions were related by Siyyid Abú-Tálib-i-Sang-Sarí, one of those who survived that memorable siege, in a communication he addressed to Bahá’u’lláh. In it he relates, in addition, his own story, as well as that of his two brothers, Siyyid Aḥmad and Mír Abu’l-Qásim, both of whom were martyred while defending the fort. “On the day on which Khusraw was slain,” he wrote, “I happened to be the guest of a certain Karbilá’í ‘Alí-Ján, the kad-khudá of one of the villages in the neighbourhood of the fort. He had gone to assist in the protection of Khusraw, and had returned and was relating to me the circumstances attending his death. On that very day, a messenger informed me that two Arabs had arrived at that village and were anxious to join the occupants of the fort. They expressed their fear of the people of the village of Qádí-Kalá, and promised that they would amply reward whoever would be willing to conduct them to their destination. I recalled the counsels of my father, Mír Muḥammad-‘Alí, who exhorted me to arise and help in the promotion of the Cause of the Báb. I immediately decided to seize the opportunity that had presented itself to me, and, together with these two Arabs, and with the aid and assistance of the Kad-khudá, reached the fort, met Mullá Ḥusayn, and determined to consecrate the remaining days of my life to the service of the Cause he had chosen to follow.”

The names of some of the officers who distinguished themselves among the opponents of the companions of Quddús are as follows:

1. Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá, brother of the late Muḥammad Sháh,

2. Sulaymán Khán-i-Afshar,

3. Ḥájí Muṣṭafá Khán-i-Sur-Tij,

4. ‘Abdu’lláh Khán, brother of Ḥájí Muṣṭafá Khán,

5. ‘Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání, who shot Mullá Ḥusayn,

6. Núru’lláh Khán-i-Afghán,

7. Habíbu’lláh Khán-i-Afghán,

8. Dhu’l-Faqar Khán-i-Karavulí,

9. ‘Alí-Aṣghar Khán-i-Du-Dungi’í,

10. Khudá-Murád Khán-i-Kurd,

11. Khalíl Khán-i-Savad-Kúhí,

12. Ja’far-Qulí Khán-i-Surkh-Karri’í,

13. The Sartip of the Fawj-i-Kálbát,

14. Zakariyyay-i-Qádí-Kalá’í, a cousin of Khusraw, and his successor.

As to those believers who participated in that memorable siege and survived its tragic end, I have been thus far unable to ascertain in full either their names or their number. I have contented myself with a representative, though incomplete, list of the names of its martyrs, trusting that in the days to come the valiant promoters of the Faith will arise to fill this gap, and will, by their research and industry, be able to remedy the imperfections of this altogether inadequate description of what must ever remain as one of the most moving episodes of modern times.


THE news of the tragic fate which had befallen the heroes of Ṭabarsí brought immeasurable sorrow to the heart of the Báb. Confined it His prison-castle of Chihríq, severed from the little band of His struggling disciples, He watched with keen anxiety the progress of their labours and prayed with unremitting zeal for their victory. How great was His sorrow when, in the early days of Sha’bán in the year 1265 A.H., He came to learn of the trials that had beset their path, of the agony they had suffered, of the betrayal to which an exasperated enemy had felt compelled to resort, and of the abominable butchery with which their career had ended.

“The Báb was heart-broken,” His amanuensis, Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-‘Azíz, subsequently related, “at the receipt of this unexpected intelligence. He was crushed with grief, a grief that stilled His voice and silenced His pen. For nine days He refused to meet any of His friends. I myself, though His close and constant attendant, was refused admittance. Whatever meat or drink we offered Him, He was disinclined to touch. Tears rained continually from His eyes, and expressions of anguish dropped unceasingly from His lips. I could hear Him, from behind the curtain, give vent to His feelings of sadness as He communed, in the privacy of His cell, with His Beloved. I attempted to jot down the effusions of His sorrow as they poured forth from His wounded heart. Suspecting that I was attempting to preserve the lamentations He uttered, He bade me destroy whatever I had recorded. Nothing remains of the moans and cries with which that heavy-laden heart sought to relieve itself of the pangs that had seized it. For a period of five months He languished, immersed in an ocean of despondency and sorrow.”

With the advent of Muharram in the year 1266 A.H., the Báb again resumed the work He had been compelled to interrupt. The first page He wrote was dedicated to the memory of Mullá Ḥusayn. In the visiting Tablet revealed in his honour, He extolled, in moving terms, the unswerving fidelity with which he served Quddús throughout the siege of the fort of Ṭabarsí. He lavished His eulogies on his magnanimous conduct, recounted his exploits, and asserted his undoubted reunion in the world beyond with the leader whom he had so nobly served. He too, He wrote, would soon join those twin immortals, each of whom had, by his life and death, shed imperishable lustre on the Faith of God. For one whole week the Báb continued to write His praises of Quddús, of Mullá Ḥusayn, and of His other companions who had gained the crown of martyrdom at Ṭabarsí.

No sooner had He completed His eulogies of those who had immortalised their names in the defence of the fort, than He summoned, on the day of Ashura, Mullá Adi-Guzal, one of the believers of Marághih, who for the last two months had been acting as His attendant instead of Siyyid Ḥasan, the brother of Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-‘Azíz. He affectionately received him, bestowed upon him the name Sáyyah, entrusted to his care the visiting Tablets He had revealed in memory of the martyrs of Ṭabarsí, and bade him perform, on His behalf, a pilgrimage to that spot. “Arise,” He urged him, “and with complete detachment proceed, in the guise of a traveller, to Mázindarán, and there visit, on My behalf, the spot which enshrines the bodies of those immortals who, with their blood, have sealed their faith in My Cause. As you approach the precincts of that hallowed ground, put off your shoes and, bowing your head in reverence to their memory, invoke their names and prayerfully make the circuit of their shrine. Bring back to Me, as a remembrance of your visit, a handful of that holy earth which covers the remains of My beloved ones, Quddús and Mullá Ḥusayn. Strive to be back ere the day of Naw-Rúz, that you may celebrate with Me that festival, the only one I probably shall ever see again.”

Faithful to the instructions he had received, Sáyyah set out on his pilgrimage to Mázindarán. He reached his destination on the first day of Rabí’u’l-Avval in the year 1266 A.H., and by the ninth day of that same month, the first anniversary of the martyrdom of Mullá Ḥusayn, he had performed his visit and acquitted himself of the mission with which he had been entrusted. From thence he proceeded to Ṭihrán.

I have heard Áqáy-i-Kalím, who received Sáyyah at the entrance of Bahá’u’lláh’s home in Ṭihrán, relate the following: “It was the depth of winter when Sáyyah, returning from his pilgrimage, came to visit Bahá’u’lláh. Despite the cold and snow of a rigorous winter, he appeared attired in the garb of a dervish, poorly clad, barefooted, and dishevelled. His heart was set afire with the flame that pilgrimage had kindled. No sooner had Siyyid Yaḥyáy-i-Dárábí, surnamed Vahíd, who was then a guest in the home of Bahá’u’lláh, been informed of the return of Sáyyah from the fort of Ṭabarsí, than he, oblivious of the pomp and circumstance to which a man of his position had been accustomed, rushed forward and flung himself at the feet of the pilgrim. Holding his legs, which had been covered with mud to the knees, in his arms, he kissed them devoutly. I was amazed that day at the many evidences of loving solicitude which Bahá’u’lláh evinced towards Vahíd. He showed him such favours as I had never seen Him extend to anyone. The manner of His conversation left no doubt in me that this same Vahíd would ere long distinguish himself by deeds no less remarkable than those which had immortalised the defenders of the fort of Ṭabarsí.”

Sáyyah tarried a few days in that home. He was, however, unable to perceive, as did Vahíd, the nature of that power which lay latent in his Host. Though himself the recipient of the utmost favour from Bahá’u’lláh, he failed to apprehend the significance of the blessings that were being showered upon him. I have heard him recount his experiences, during his sojourn in Famagusta: “Bahá’u’lláh overwhelmed me with His kindness. As to Vahíd, notwithstanding the eminence of his position, he invariably gave me preference over himself whenever in the presence of his Host. On the day of my arrival from Mázindarán, he went so far as to kiss my feet. I was amazed at the reception accorded me in that home. Though immersed in an ocean of bounty, I failed, in those days, to appreciate the position then occupied by Bahá’u’lláh, nor was I able to suspect, however dimly, the nature of the Mission He was destined to perform.”

Ere the departure of Sáyyah from Ṭihrán, Bahá’u’lláh entrusted him with an epistle, the text of which He had dictated to Mírzá Yaḥyá, and sent it in his name. Shortly after, a reply, penned in the Báb’s own handwriting, in which He commits Mírzá Yaḥyá to the care of Bahá’u’lláh and urges that attention be paid to his education and training, was received. That communication the people of the Bayán have misconstrued as an evidence of the exaggerated claims which they have advanced in favour of their leader. Although the text of that reply is absolutely devoid of such pretensions, and does not, beyond the praise it bestows upon Bahá’u’lláh and the request it makes for the upbringing of Mírzá Yaḥyá, contain any reference to his alleged position, yet his followers have idly imagined that that letter constitutes an assertion of the authority with which they have invested him.

At this stage of my narrative, when I have already recounted the outstanding events that occurred in the course of the year 1265 A.H., I am reminded that that very year witnessed the most significant event in my own life, an event which marked my spiritual rebirth, my deliverance from the fetters of the past, and my acceptance of the message of this Revelation. I seek the indulgence of the reader if I dwell too long on the circumstances of my early life, and recount with too great detail the events that led to my conversion. My father belonged to the tribe of Táhirí, who led a nomadic life in the province of Khurasán. His name was Ghulám ‘Alí, son of Ḥusayn-i-‘Arab. He married the daughter of Kalb-‘Alí, and by her had three sons and three daughters. I was his second son, and was given the name of Yar-Muḥammad. I was born on the eighteenth of Safar in the year 1247 A.H., in the village of Zarand. I was a shepherd by profession, and was given in my early days a most rudimentary education. I longed to devote more time to my studies, but was unable to do so, owing to the exigencies of my situation. I read the Qur’án with eagerness, committed several of its passages to memory, and chanted them whilst I followed my flock over the fields. I loved solitude, and watched the stars at night with delight and wonder. In the quiet of the wilderness, I recited certain prayers attributed to the Imám ‘Alí, the Commander of the Faithful, and, as I turned my face towards the Qiblih, supplicated the Almighty to guide my steps and enable me to find the Truth.

My father oftentimes took me with him to Qum, where I became acquainted with the teachings of Islám and the ways and manners of its leaders. He was a devout follower of that Faith, and was closely associated with the ecclesiastical leaders who congregated in that city. I watched him as he prayed at the Masjid-i-Imám-Ḥasan and performed, with scrupulous care and extreme piety, all the rites and ceremonies prescribed by his Faith. I heard the preaching of several eminent mujtahids who had arrived from Najaf, attended their lectures, and listened to their disputations. Gradually I came to perceive their insincerity and to loathe the baseness of their character. Eager as I was to ascertain the trustworthiness of the creeds and dogmas which they strove to impose upon me, I could neither find the time nor obtain the facilities with which to satisfy my desire. I was often rebuked by my father for my temerity and restlessness. “I fear,” he often remarked, “that your aversion to these mujtahids may some day involve you in great difficulties and bring upon you reproach and shame.”

I was in the village of Rubat-Karím, on a visit to my maternal uncle, when, on the twelfth day after Naw-Rúz, in the year 1263 A.H., I accidentally overheard, in the masjid of that village, a conversation between two men which first made me acquainted with the Revelation of the Báb. “Have you heard,” one of them remarked, “that the Siyyid-i-Báb has been conducted to the village of Kinár-Gird and is on his way to Ṭihrán?” Finding his friend ignorant of that episode, he proceeded to relate the whole story of the Báb, giving a detailed account of the circumstances attending His Declaration, of His arrest in Shíráz, His departure for Iṣfahán, the reception which both the Imám-Jum’ih and Manúchihr Khán had extended to Him, the prodigies and wonders He had manifested, and the verdict that the ‘ulamás of Iṣfahán had pronounced against Him. Every detail of that story excited my curiosity and stirred in me a keen admiration for a Man who could throw such a spell over His countrymen. His light seemed to have flooded my soul; I felt as if I were already a convert to His Cause.

From Rubat-Karím I returned to Zarand. My father remarked Upon my restlessness, and expressed his surprise at my behaviour. I had lost my appetite and sleep, and was determined to conceal the secret of my inner agitation from my father, lest its disclosure might interfere with the eventual realisation of my hopes. I remained in that state until a certain Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Zavari’í arrived at Zarand and was able to enlighten me on a subject which had become the ruling passion of my life. Our acquaintance speedily ripened into a friendship which encouraged me to share with him the longings of my heart. To my great surprise, I found him already enthralled by the secret of the theme which I had begun to disclose to him. “One of my cousins,” he proceeded to relate, “Siyyid Ismá’íl-i-Zavari’í by name, convinced me of the truth of the Message proclaimed by the Siyyid-i-Báb. He informed me that he had several times met the Siyyid-i-Báb in the house of the Imám-Jum’ih of Iṣfahán, and had seen Him actually reveal, in the presence of His host, a commentary on the Súrih of Va’l-‘Asr. The rapidity of the Báb’s composition, and the force and originality of His style, had excited his surprise and admiration. He was amazed to find that, whilst revealing His commentary, and without lessening the speed of His writing, He was able to answer whatever questions those who were present were moved to ask Him. The fearlessness with which my cousin arose to preach the Message aroused the hostility of the kad-khudás and siyyids of Zavárih, who compelled him to return to Iṣfahán, where he had of late been residing. I too, unable to remain in Zavárih, departed for Káshán, in which town I spent the winter and met Ḥájí Mírzá Jání, of whom my cousin had spoken, and who gave me a treatise written by the Báb, entitled ‘Risaliy-i-’Adlíyyih,’ urging me to read it carefully and return it to him after a few days. I was so charmed by the theme and language of that treatise that I proceeded immediately to transcribe the whole text. When I returned it to its owner, he, to my profound regret, informed me that I had just missed the opportunity of meeting its Author. ‘The Siyyid-i-Báb Himself,’ he said, ‘arrived on the eve of the day of Naw-Rúz and spent three nights as a Guest in my home. He is now on His way to Ṭihrán, and if you start immediately, you will certainly overtake Him.’ Straightway I arose and departed, walking all the way from Káshán to a fortress in the neighbourhood of Kinár-Gird. I was resting under the shadow of its walls when a pleasant-looking man emerged from that fortress and asked me who I was and whither I was going. ‘I am a poor siyyid,’ I replied, ‘a wayfarer and stranger to this place.’ He took me to his home and invited me to spend the night as his guest. In the course of his conversation with me, he said: ‘I suspect you to be a follower of the Siyyid who was staying for a few days in this fortress, from whence He was transferred to the village of Kulayn, and who, three days ago, left for Ádhirbayján. I esteem myself as one of His adherents. My name is Ḥájí Zaynu’l-Ábidín. I intended not to separate myself from Him, but He bade me remain in this place and convey to any of His friends whom I might meet His loving greetings, and dissuade them from following Him. “Tell them,” He instructed me, “to consecrate their lives to the service of My Cause, that haply the barriers that hinder the progress of this Faith may be removed, so that My followers may, with safety and freedom, worship their God and observe the precepts of their Faith.” I immediately abandoned my project and, instead of returning to Qum, decided to come to this place.’”

The story which this Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Zavari’í related to me served to allay my agitation. He shared with me the copy of the “Risaliy-i-’Adlíyyih” he had brought with him, the reading of which imparted strength and refreshment to my soul. In those days I was a pupil of a siyyid who taught me the Qur’án and whose incapacity to enlighten me on the tenets of his Faith became more and more evident in my eyes. Siyyid Ḥusayn, whom I asked for further information about the Cause, advised me to meet Siyyid Ismá’íl-i-Zavari’í, whose invariable practice it was to visit, every spring, the shrines of the imám-zádihs of Qum. I induced my father, who was reluctant to separate himself from me, to send me to that city with the object of perfecting my knowledge of the Arabic language. I was careful to conceal from him my real purpose, fearing that its disclosure might involve him in embarrassments with the Qádí and the ‘ulamás of Zarand and prevent me from achieving my end.

While I was in Qum, my mother, my sister, and my brother came to visit me in connection with the festival of Naw-Rúz, and stayed with me for about a month. In the course of their visit, I was able to enlighten my mother and my sister about the new Revelation, and succeeded in kindling in their hearts the love of its Author. A few days after their return to Zarand, Siyyid Ismá’íl, whom I impatiently awaited, arrived, and was able, in the course of his discussions with me, to set forth in detail all that was required to win me over completely to the Cause. He laid stress on the continuity of Divine Revelation, asserted the fundamental oneness of the Prophets of the past, and explained their close relationship to the Mission of the Báb. He also disclosed the nature of the work accomplished by Shaykh Aḥmad-i-Ahsá’í and Siyyid Káẓim-i-Rashtí, neither of whom I had previously heard. I asked as to the duty incumbent at the present time upon every loyal adherent of the Faith. “The injunction of the Báb,” he replied, “is that all those have accepted His Message should proceed to Mázindarán and their assistance to Quddús, who is now hemmed in by the forces of an unrelenting foe.” I expressed my eagerness to join him, as he himself was intending to journey to the fort of Ṭabarsí. He advised me, however, to remain in Qum together with a certain Mírzá Fatḥu’lláh-i-Hakkak, a lad of my age whom he had recently guided to the Cause, until the receipt of his message from Ṭihrán.

I waited in vain for that message, and, finding that no word came from him, decided to leave for the capital. My friend Mírzá Fatḥu’lláh subsequently followed me. He was eventually arrested and shared the fate of those who were put to death in the year 1268 A.H. as a result of the attempt on the life or the Sháh. Arriving in Ṭihrán, I proceeded directly to the Masjid-i-Sháh, which was opposite a madrisih, at the entrance of which I, later on, unexpectedly encountered Siyyid Ismá’íl-i-Zavari’í, who hastened to inform me that he had just written me the letter and was on the point of despatching it to Qum.

We were preparing ourselves to leave for Mázindarán, when the news reached us that the defenders of the fort of Ṭabarsí had been treacherously slaughtered and that the fort itself had been levelled with the ground. We were filled with distress at the receipt of the appalling news, and mourned the tragic fate of those who had so heroically defended their beloved Cause. One day I unexpectedly came across my maternal uncle, Naw-Rúz-‘Alí, who had come on purpose to fetch me. I informed Siyyid Ismá’íl, who advised me to leave for Zarand and not to arouse further hostility on the part of those who insisted upon my return.

On my arrival at my native village, I was able to win over my brother to the Cause, which my mother and my sister had already embraced. I also succeeded in inducing my father to allow me to leave again for Ṭihrán. I took up my residence in the same madrisih where I had been accommodated on my previous visit, and there met a certain Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Karím, whom, I subsequently learned, Bahá’u’lláh had named Mírzá Aḥmad. He affectionately received me and told me that Siyyid Ismá’íl had entrusted me to his care and wished me to remain in his company until the former’s return to Ṭihrán. The days of my companionship with Mírzá Aḥmad will never be forgotten. I found him the very incarnation of love and kindness. The words with which he inspired me and animated my faith are indelibly graven upon my heart.

Through him I was introduced to the disciples of the Báb, with whom I associated and from whom I obtained fuller information regarding the teachings of the Faith. Mírzá Aḥmad was in those days earning his livelihood as a scribe, and devoted his evenings to copying the Persian Bayán and other writings of the Báb. The copies which he so devotedly prepared were given by him as gifts to his fellow-disciples. I myself was several times the bearer of such gifts from him to the wife of Mullá Mihdíy-i-Kandí, who had forsaken his infant son and hastened to join the occupants of the fort of Ṭabarsí.

During those days I was informed that Ṭáhirih, who, ever since the dispersal of the gathering at Badasht, had been living in Núr, had arrived at Ṭihrán and was confined in the house of Maḥmúd Khán-i-Kalántar, where, although a prisoner, she was treated with consideration and courtesy.

One day Mírzá Aḥmad conducted me to the house of Bahá’u’lláh, whose wife, the Varaqatu’l-’Ulya, the mother of the Most Great Branch, had already healed my eyes with an ointment which she herself had prepared and sent to me by this same Mírzá Aḥmad. The first one I met in that house was that same beloved Son of hers, who was then a child of six. He smiled His welcome to me as He was standing at the door of the room which Bahá’u’lláh occupied. I passed that door, and was ushered into the presence of Mírzá Yaḥyá, utterly unaware of the station of the Occupant of the room I had left behind me. When brought face to face with Mírzá Yaḥyá, I was startled, immediately I observed his features and noted his conversation, at his utter unworthiness of the position that had been claimed for him.

On another occasion, when I visited that same house, I on the point of entering the room that Mírzá Yaḥyá occupied, when Áqáy-i-Kalím, whom I had previously met, approached and requested me, since Iṣfandíyár, their servant, had gone to market and had not yet returned, to conduct “Áqá” to the Madrisiy-i-Mírzá-Ṣáliḥ in his stead and then return to this place. I gladly consented, and as I was preparing to leave, I saw the Most Great Branch, a child of exquisite beauty, wearing the kuláh and cloaked in the jubbiy-i-hizari’í, emerge from the room which His Father occupied, and descend the steps leading to the gate of the house. I advanced and stretched forth my arms to carry Him. “We shall walk together,” He said, as He took hold of my hand and led me out of the house. We chatted together as we walked hand in hand in the direction of the madrisih known in those days by the name of Pa-Minar. As we reached His classroom, He turned to me and said: “Come again this afternoon and take me back to my home, for Iṣfandíyár is unable to fetch me. My Father will need him to-day.” I gladly acquiesced, and returned immediately to the house of Bahá’u’lláh. There again I met Mírzá Yaḥyá, who delivered into my hands a letter which he asked me to take to the Madrisiy-i-Sadr and hand to Bahá’u’lláh, whom I was told I would find in the room occupied by Mullá Báqir-i-Bastamí. He asked me to bring back the reply immediately. I fulfilled the commission and returned to the madrisih in time to conduct the Most Great Branch to His home.

One day Mírzá Aḥmad invited me to meet Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí, the Báb’s maternal uncle, who had recently returned from Chihríq and was staying in the home of Muḥammad Big-i-Chaparchí, in the neighbourhood of the gate of Shimírán. I was struck, when I gazed at his face, with the nobility of his features and the serenity of his countenance. My subsequent visits to him served to heighten my admiration for the sweetness of his temper, his mystical piety and strength of character. I well remember how on one occasion Áqáy-i-Kalím urged him, at a certain gathering, to leave Ṭihrán, which was then in a state of great ferment, and escape its dangerous atmosphere. “Why fear for my safety?” he confidently replied. “Would that I too could share in the banquet which the hand of Providence is spreading for His chosen ones!”

Shortly after, the stirrers-up of mischief were able to kindle a grave turmoil in that city. Its immediate cause was the action of a certain siyyid from Káshán, who was living in the Madrisiy-i-Daru’sh-Shafa’ and whom the well-known Siyyid Muḥammad had taken into his confidence and claimed to have converted to the Báb’s teachings. Mírzá Muḥammad-Ḥusayn-i-Kirmání, who lodged in that same madrisih and who was a well-known lecturer on the metaphysical doctrines of Islám, attempted several times to induce Siyyid Muḥammad, who was one of his pupils, to break off his acquaintance with that siyyid, whom he believed to be unreliable, and to refuse him admittance to the gathering of the believers. Siyyid Muḥammad refused, however, to be admonished by this warning, and continued to associate with him until the beginning of the month of Rabí’u’th-Thání in the year 1266 A.H., at which time the treacherous siyyid went to a certain Siyyid Ḥusayn, one of the ‘ulamás of Káshán, and delivered into his hands the names and addresses of about fifty of the believers who were then residing in Ṭihrán. That same list was immediately submitted by Siyyid Ḥusayn to Maḥmúd Khán-i-Kalántar, who ordered that all of them be arrested. Fourteen of them were seized and brought before the authorities.

One the day they were captured, I happened to be with my brother and my maternal uncle, who had arrived from Zarand and had lodged in a caravanersai outside the gate of Naw. The next morning they departed for Zarand, and as I returned to the Madrisiy-i-Daru’sh-Shafa’, I discovered in my room a package upon which was placed a letter addressed to me by Mírzá Aḥmad. That letter informed me that the treacherous siyyid had at last denounced us and had raised a violent commotion in the capital. “The package which I have left in this room,” he wrote, “contains all the sacred writings that are in my possession. If you ever reach this place in safety, take them to the caravanserai of Ḥájí Nad-‘Alí, where you will find in one of its rooms a man bearing that name, a native of Qazvín, to whom you will deliver the package together with the letter which accompanies it. From thence you will proceed immediately to the Masjid-i-Sháh, where I hope to be able to meet you.” Following his directions, I delivered the package to the Ḥájí and succeeded in reaching the masjid, where I met Mírzá Aḥmad and heard him relate how he had been assailed and had sought refuge in the masjid, in the precincts of which he was immune from further attack.

In the meantime, Bahá’u’lláh had sent from the Madrisiyi-Sadr a message to Mírzá Aḥmad informing him of the designs of the Amír-Nizám, who had, already on three different occasions, demanded his arrest from the Imám-Jum’ih. He was also warned that the Amír, ignoring the right of asylum with which the masjid had been invested, intended to arrest those who had sought refuge in that sanctuary. Mírzá Aḥmad was urged to leave in disguise for Qum, and was charged to direct me to return to my home in Zarand.

Meanwhile, my relations, who had recognised me in the Masjid-i-Sháh, pressed me to leave for Zarand, pleading that my father, who had been misinformed of my arrest and impending execution, was in grave distress, and that it was my duty to hasten and relieve him of his anxieties. Acting on the advice of Mírzá Aḥmad, who counselled me to seize this God-sent opportunity, I left for Zarand and celebrate the Feast of Naw-Rúz with my family, a Feast that was doubly blessed inasmuch as it coincided with the fifth day of Jamádiyu’l-Avval in the year 1266 A.H., the anniversary of the day on which the Báb had declared His Mission. The Naw-Rúz of that year has been mentioned in the “Kitáb-i-Panj-Sha’n,” one of the last works of the Báb. “The sixth Naw-Rúz,” He wrote in that Book, “after the Declaration of the Point of the Bayán, has fallen on the fifth day of Jamádiyu’l-Avval, in the seventh lunar year after that same Declaration.” In that same passage, the Báb alludes to the fact that the Naw-Rúz of that year would be the last He was destined to celebrate on this earth.

In the midst of the festivities which my relatives celebrated in Zarand, my heart was set upon Ṭihrán, and my thoughts centred round the fate which might have befallen my fellow-disciples in that agitated city. I longed to hear of their safety. Though in the house of my father, and surrounded with the solicitude of my parents, I felt oppressed by the thought of being severed from that little band, whose perils I could well imagine and whose afflictions I longed to share. The terrible suspense under which I lived, while confined in my home, was unexpectedly relieved by the arrival of Ṣádiq-i-Tabrízí, who came from Ṭihrán and was received in the house of my father. Though delivering me from the uncertainties which had been weighing so heavily upon me, he, to my profound horror, unfolded to my ears a tale of such terrifying cruelty that the anxieties of suspense paled before the ghastly light which that lurid story cast upon my heart.

The circumstances of the martyrdom of my arrested brethren in Ṭihrán—for such was their fate—I now proceed to relate. The fourteen disciples of the Báb, who had been captured, remained incarcerated in the house of Maḥmúd Khán-i-Kalántar from the first to the twenty-second day of the month of Rabí’u’th-Thání. Ṭáhirih was also confined on the upper floor of that same house. Every kind of ill treatment was inflicted upon them. Their persecutors sought, by every device, to induce them to supply the information they required, but failed to obtain a satisfactory answer. Among the captives was a certain Muḥammad-Ḥusayn-i-Maraghiyí, who obstinately refused to utter a single word despite the severe pressure that was brought to bear upon him. They tortured him, they resorted to every possible measure in order to extort from him any hint that could serve their purpose, but failed to achieve their end. Such was his unswerving obstinacy that his oppressors thought him to be dumb. They asked Ḥájí Mullá Ismá’íl, who had converted him to his Faith, whether or not he could talk. “He is mute, but not dumb,” he replied; “he is fluent of speech and is free from any impediment.” He had no sooner called him by his name than the victim answered, assuring him of his readiness to abide by his will.

Convinced of their powerlessness to bend their will, they referred the matter to Maḥmúd Khán, who, in his turn, submitted their case to the Amír-Nizám, Mírzá Taqí Khán, the Grand Vazír of Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh. The sovereign in those days refrained from direct interference in matters pertaining to the affairs of the persecuted community, and was often ignorant of the decisions that were being made with regard to its members. His Grand Vazír was invested with plenary powers to deal with them as he saw fit. No one questioned his decisions, nor dared disapprove of the manner in which he exercised his authority. He immediately issued a peremptory order threatening with execution whoever among these fourteen prisoners was unwilling to recant his faith. Seven were compelled to yield to the pressure that was brought to bear upon them, and were immediately released. The remaining seven constitute the Seven Martyrs of Ṭihrán:

1. Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí, surnamed Khal-i-‘Aẓam, the Báb’s maternal uncle, and one of the leading merchants of Shíráz. It was this same uncle into whose custody the Báb, after the death of His father, was entrusted, and who, on his Nephew’s return from His pilgrimage to Ḥijáz and His arrest by Ḥusayn Khán, assumed undivided responsibility for Him by pledging his word in writing. It was he who surrounded Him, while under his care, with unfailing solicitude, who served Him with such devotion, and who acted as intermediary between Him and the hosts of His followers who flocked to Shíráz to see Him. His only child, a Siyyid Javád, died in infancy. Towards the middle of the year 1265 A.H., this same Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí left Shíráz and visited the Báb in the castle of Chihríq. From thence he went to Ṭihrán and, though having no special occupation, remained in that city until the outbreak of the sedition which brought about eventually his martyrdom.

Though his friends appealed to him to escape the turmoil that was fast approaching, he refused to heed their counsel and faced, until his last hour, with complete resignation, the persecution to which he was subjected. A considerable number among the more affluent merchants of his acquaintance offered to pay his ransom, an offer which he rejected. Finally he was brought before the Amír-Nizám. “The Chief Magistrate of this realm,” the Grand Vazír informed him, “is loth to inflict the slightest injury upon the Prophet’s descendants. Eminent merchants of Shíráz and Ṭihrán are willing, nay eager, to pay your ransom. The Maliku’t-Tujjar has even interceded in your behalf. A word of recantation from you is sufficient to set you free and ensure your return, with honours, to your native city. I pledge my word that, should you be willing to acquiesce, the remaining days of your life will be spent with honour and dignity under the sheltering shadow of your sovereign.” “Your Excellency,” boldly replied Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí, “if others before me, who quaffed joyously the cup of martyrdom, have chosen to reject an appeal such as the one you now make to me, know of a certainty that I am no less eager to decline such a request. My repudiation of the truths enshrined in this Revelation would be tantamount to a rejection of all the Revelations that have preceded it. To refuse to acknowledge the Mission of the Siyyid-i-Báb would be to apostatise from the Faith of my forefathers and to deny the Divine character of the Message which Muḥammad, Jesus, Moses, and all the Prophets of the past have revealed. God knows that whatever I have heard and read concerning the sayings and doings of those Messengers, I have been privileged to witness the same from this Youth, this beloved Kinsman of mine, from His earliest boyhood to this, the thirtieth year of His life. Everything in Him reminds me of His illustrious Ancestor and of the imáms of His Faith whose lives our recorded traditions have portrayed. I only request of you that you allow me to be the first to lay down my life in the path of my beloved Kinsman.”

The Amír was stupefied by such an answer. In a frenzy of despair, and without uttering a word, he motioned that he be taken out and beheaded. As the victim was being conducted to his death, he was heard, several times, to repeat these words of Ḥáfiẓ: “Great is my gratitude to Thee, O my God, for having granted so bountifully all I have asked of Thee.” “Hear me, O people,” he cried to the multitude that pressed around him; “I have offered myself up as a willing sacrifice in the path of the Cause of God. The entire province of Fárs, as well as ‘Iráq, beyond the confines of Persia, will readily testify to my uprightness of conduct, to my sincere piety and noble lineage. For over a thousand years, you have prayed and prayed again that the promised Qá’im be made manifest. At the mention of His name, how often have you cried, from the depths of your hearts: ‘Hasten, O God, His coming; remove every barrier that stands in the way of His appearance!’ And now that He is come, you have driven Him to a hopeless exile in a remote and sequestered corner of Ádhirbayján and have risen to exterminate His companions. Were I to invoke the malediction of God upon you, I am certain that His avenging wrath would grievously afflict you. Such is not, however, my prayer. With my last breath, I pray that the Almighty may wipe away the stain of your guilt and enable you to awaken from the sleep of heedlessness.”

These words stirred his executioner to his very depths. Pretending that the sword he had been holding in readiness in his hands required to be resharpened, he hastily went away, determined never to return again. “When I was appointed to this service,” he was heard to complain, weeping bitterly the while, “they undertook to deliver into my hands only those who had been convicted of murder and highway robbery. I am now ordered by them to shed the blood of one no less holy than the Imám Musay-i-Káẓim himself!” Shortly after, he departed for Khurasán and there sought to earn his livelihood as a porter and crier. To the believers of that province, he recounted the tale of that tragedy, and expressed his repentance of the act which he had been compelled to perpetrate. Every time he recalled that incident, every time the name of Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí was mentioned to him, tears which he could not repress flowed from his eyes, tears that were a witness to the affection which that holy man had instilled into his heart.

2. Mírzá Qurbán-‘Alí, a native of Barfurúsh in the province of Mázindarán, and an outstanding figure in the community known by the name of Ni’matu’lláhí. He was a man of sincere piety and endowed with great nobleness of nature. Such was the purity of his life that a considerable number among the notables of Mázindarán, of Khurasán and Ṭihrán had pledged him their loyalty, and regarded him as the very embodiment of virtue. Such was the esteem in which he was held by his countrymen that, on the occasion of his pilgrimage to Karbilá, a vast concourse of devoted admirers thronged his route in order to pay their homage to him. In Hamadán, as well as in Kirmánsháh, a great number of people were influenced by his personality and joined the company of his followers. Wherever he went, he was greeted with the acclamations of the people. These demonstrations of popular enthusiasm were, however, extremely distasteful to him. He avoided the crowd and disdained the pomp and circumstance of leadership. On his way to Karbilá, while passing through Mandalíj, a shaykh of considerable influence became so enamoured of him that he renounced all that he had formerly cherished and, leaving his friends and disciples, followed him as far as Ya’qubíyyih. Mírzá Qurbán-‘Alí, however, succeeded in inducing him to return to Mandalíj and resume the work which he had abandoned.

On his return from his pilgrimage, Mírzá Qurbán-‘Alí met Mullá Ḥusayn and through him embraced the truth of the Cause. Owing to illness, he was unable to join the defenders of the fort of Ṭabarsí, and, but for his unfitness to travel to Mázindarán, would have been the first to join its occupants. Next to Mullá Ḥusayn, among the disciples of the Báb, Vahíd was the person to whom he was most attached. During my visit to Ṭihrán, I was informed that the latter had consecrated his life to the service of the Cause and had risen with exemplary devotion to promote its interests far and wide. I often heard Mírzá Qurbán-‘Alí, who was then in the capital, deplore that illness. “How greatly I grieve,” I heard him several times remark, “to have been deprived of my share of the cup which Mullá Ḥusayn and his companions have quaffed! I long to join Vahíd and enrol myself under his banner and strive to make amends for my previous failure.” He was preparing to leave Ṭihrán, when he was suddenly arrested. His modest attire witnessed to the degree of his detachment. Clad in a white tunic, after the manner of the Arabs, cloaked in a coarsely woven ‘abá, and wearing the head-dress of the people of ‘Iráq, he seemed, as he walked the streets, the very embodiment of renunciation. He scrupulously adhered to all the observances of his Faith, and with exemplary piety performed his devotions. “The Báb Himself conforms to the observances of His Faith in their minutest details,” he often remarked. “Am I to neglect on my part the things which are observed by my Leader?”

When Mírzá Qurbán-‘Alí was arrested and brought before the Amír-Nizám, a commotion such as Ṭihrán had rarely experienced was raised. Large crowds of people thronged the approaches to the headquarters of the government, eager to learn what would befall him. “Since last night,” the Amír, as soon as he had seen him, remarked, “I have been besieged by all classes of State officials who have vigorously interceded in your behalf. From what I learn of the position you occupy and the influence your words exercise, you are not much inferior to the Siyyid-i-Báb Himself. Had you claimed for yourself the position of leadership, better would it have been than to declare your allegiance to one who is certainly inferior to you in knowledge.” “The knowledge which I have acquired,” he boldly retorted, “has led me to bow down in allegiance before Him whom I have recognised to be my Lord and Leader. Ever since I attained the age of manhood, I have regarded justice and fairness as the ruling motives of my life. I have judged Him fairly, and have reached the conclusion that should this Youth, to whose transcendent power friend and foe alike testify, be false, every Prophet of God, from time immemorial down to the present day, should be denounced as the very embodiment of falsehood! I am assured of the unquestioning devotion of over a thousand admirers, and yet I am powerless to change the heart of the least among them. This Youth, however, has proved Himself capable of transmuting, through the elixir of His love, the souls of the most degraded among His fellow men. Upon a thousand like me He has, unaided and alone, exerted such influence that, without even attaining His presence, they have flung aside their own desires and have clung passionately to His will. Fully conscious of the inadequacy of the sacrifice they have made, these yearn to lay down their lives for His sake, in the hope that this further evidence of their devotion may be worthy of mention in His Court.”

“I am loth,” the Amír-Nizám remarked, “whether your words be of God or not, to pronounce the sentence of death against the possessor of so exalted a station.” “Why hesitate? burst forth the impatient victim. “Are you not aware that all names descend from Heaven? He whose name is ‘Alí, in whose path I am laying down my life, has from time immemorial inscribed my name, Qurbán-‘Alí, in the scroll of His chosen martyrs. This is indeed the day on which I celebrate the Qurbán festival, the day on which I shall seal with my life-blood my faith in His Cause. Be not, therefore, reluctant, and rest assured that I shall never blame you for your act. The sooner you strike off my head, the greater will be my gratitude to you.” “Take him away from this place!” cried the Amír. “Another moment, and this dervish will have cast his spell over me!” “You are proof against that magic,” Mírzá Qurbán-‘Alí replied, “that can captivate only the pure in heart. You and your like can never be made to realise the entrancing power of that Divine elixir which, swift as the twinkling of an eye, transmutes the souls of men.”

Exasperated by the reply, the Amír-Nizám arose from his seat and, his whole frame shaking with anger, exclaimed: “Nothing but the edge of the sword can silence the voice of this deluded people!” “No need,” he told the executioners who were in attendance upon him, “to bring any more members of this hateful sect before me. Words are powerless to overcome their unswerving obstinacy. Whomever you are able to induce to recant his faith, release him; as for the rest, strike off their heads.”

As he drew near the scene of his death, Mírzá Qurbán-‘Alí, intoxicated with the prospect of an approaching reunion with his Beloved, broke forth into expressions of joyous exultation. “Hasten to slay me,” he cried with rapturous delight, “for through this death you will have offered me the chalice of everlasting life. Though my withered breath you now extinguish, with a myriad lives will my Beloved reward me; lives such as no mortal heart can conceive!” “Hearken to my words, you who profess to be the followers of the Apostle of God,” he pleaded, as he turned his gaze to the concourse of spectators. “Muḥammad, the Day-Star of Divine guidance, who in a former age arose above the horizon of Ḥijáz, has to-day, in the person of ‘Alí-Muḥammad, again risen from the Day-Spring of Shíráz, shedding the same radiance and imparting the same warmth. A rose is a rose in whichever garden, and at whatever time, it may bloom.” Seeing on every side how the people were deaf to his call, he cried aloud: “Oh, the perversity of this generation! How heedless of the fragrance which that imperishable Rose has shed! Though my soul brim over with ecstasy, I can, alas, find no heart to share with me itS charm, nor mind to apprehend its glory.”

At the sight of the body of Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí, beheaded and bleeding at his feet, his fevered excitement rose to its highest pitch. “Hail,” he shouted as he flung himself upon it, “hail the day of mutual rejoicing, the day of our reunion with our Beloved!” “Approach,” he cried to the executioner, as he held the body in his arms, “and strike your blow, for my faithful comrade is unwilling to release himself from my embrace, and calls me to hasten together with him to the court of the Well-Beloved.” A blow from the executioner fell immediately upon the nape of his neck. A few moments later, and the soul of that great man had passed away. That cruel stroke stirred in the bystanders feelings of mingled indignation and sympathy. Cries of sorrow and lamentation ascended from the hearts of the multitude, and provoked a distress that was reminiscent of the outbursts of grief with which every year the populace greets the day of Ashura.

3. Then came the turn of Ḥájí Mullá Ismá’íl-i-Qumí, who was a native of Farahán. In his early youth, he departed for Karbilá In quest of the Truth which he was diligently striving to discover. He had associated with all the leading ‘ulamás of Najaf and Karbilá, had sat at the feet of Siyyid Káẓim, and had acquired from him the knowledge and understanding which enabled him, a few years later when in Shíráz, to acknowledge the Revelation of the Báb. He distinguished himself by the tenacity of his faith and the fervour of his devotion. As soon as the injunction of the Báb, bidding His followers hasten to Khurasán, reached him, he enthusiastically responded, joined the companions who were proceeding to Badasht, and there received the appellation of Sirru’l-Vujud. Whilst in their company, his understanding of the Cause grew deeper and his zeal for its promotion correspondingly increased. He grew to be the very embodiment of detachment, and felt more and more impatient to demonstrate in a befitting manner the spirit with which his Faith had inspired him. In the exposition of the meaning of the verses of the Qur’án and the traditions of Islám, he displayed an insight which few could rival, and the eloquence with which he set forth those truths won him the admiration of his fellow-disciples. In the days when the fort of Ṭabarsí had become the rallying centre for the disciples of the Báb, he languished disconsolate upon a sick-bed, unable to lend his assistance and play his part for its defence. No sooner had he recovered than, finding that that memorable siege had ended with the massacre of his fellow-disciples, he arose, with added determination, to make up by his self-sacrificing labours for the loss which the Cause had sustained. That determination carried him eventually to the field of martyrdom and won him its crown.

Conducted to the block and waiting for the moment of his execution, he turned his gaze towards those twin martyrs who had preceded him and who still lay entwined in each other’s embrace. “Well done, beloved companions!” he cried, as he fixed his gaze upon their gory heads. “You have turned Ṭihrán into a paradise! Would that I had preceded you!” Drawing from his pocket a coin, which he handed to his executioner, he begged him to purchase for him something with which he could sweeten his mouth. He took some of it and gave the rest to him, saying: “I have forgiven you your act; approach and deal your blow. For thirty years I have yearned to witness this blessed day, and was fearful lest I should carry this wish with me unfulfilled to the grave.” “Accept me, O my God,” he cried, as he turned his eyes to heaven, “unworthy though I be, and deign to inscribe my name upon the scroll of those immortals who have laid down their lives on the altar of sacrifice.” He was still offering his devotions when the executioner, at his request, suddenly cut short his prayer.

4. He had hardly expired when Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Turshízí, the mujtahid, was conducted in his turn to the block. He was a native of Turshíz, a village in Khurasán, and was highly esteemed for his piety and rectitude of conduct. He had studied for a number of years in Najaf, and was commissioned by his fellow-mujtahids to proceed to Khurasán and there propagate the principles he had been taught. When he arrived at Kazímayn, he met Ḥájí Muḥammad-Taqíy-i-Kirmání, an old acquaintance of his, who ranked among the foremost merchants of Kirmán, and who had opened a branch of his business in Khurasán. As he was on his way to Persia, he decided to accompany him. This Ḥájí Muḥammad-Taqí had been a close friend of Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí, the Báb’s maternal uncle, through whom he had been converted to the Cause in the year 1264 A.H., while preparing to leave Shíráz on a pilgrimage to Karbilá. When informed of the projected journey of Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí to Chihríq for the purpose of visiting the Báb, he expressed his eager desire to accompany him. Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí advised him to carry out his original purpose and proceed to Karbilá and there await his letter, which would inform him whether it would be advisable to join him. From Chihríq, Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí was ordered to depart for Ṭihrán, in the hope that after a short stay in the capital he would be able to renew his visit to his Nephew. Whilst in Chihríq, he expressed his reluctance to return to Shíráz, inasmuch as he could no longer endure .the increasing arrogance of its inhabitants. Upon his arrival in Ṭihrán, he requested Ḥájí Muḥammad-Taqí to join him. Siyyid Ḥusayn accompanied him from Baghdád to the capital and through him was converted to the Faith.

As he faced the multitude that had gathered round him to witness his martyrdom, Siyyid Ḥusayn raised his voice and said: “Hear me, O followers of Islám! My name is Ḥusayn, and I am a descendant of the Siyyidu’sh-Shuhada, who also bore that name. The mujtahids of the holy cities of Najaf and Karbilá have unanimously testified to my position as the authorised expounder of the law and teachings of their Faith. Not until recently had heard thee name of the Siyyid-i-Báb. The mastery I have obtained over the intricacies of the Islámic teachings has enabled me to appreciate the value of the Message which the Siyyid-i-Báb has brought. I am convinced that, were I to deny the Truth which He has revealed, I should, by this very act, have renounced my allegiance to every Revelation that has preceded it. I appeal to every one of you to call upon the ‘ulamás and mujtahids of this city and to convene a gathering, at which I will undertake in their presence to establish the truth of this Cause. Let them then judge whether I am able to demonstrate the validity of the claims advanced by the Báb. If they be satisfied with the proofs which I shall adduce in support of my argument, let them desist from shedding the blood of the innocent; and if I fail, let them inflict upon me the punishment I deserve.” These words had scarcely dropped from his lips when an officer in the service of the Amír-Nizám haughtily interjected: “I carry with me your death-warrant signed and sealed by seven of the recognised mujtahids of Ṭihrán, who have in their own handwriting pronounced you an infidel. I will myself be answerable to God on the Day of Judgment for your blood, and will lay the responsibility upon those leaders in whose judgment we have been asked to put our trust and to whose decisions we have been compelled to submit.” With these words he drew out his dagger and stabbed him with such force that he immediately fell dead at his feet.

5. Soon after, Ḥájí Muḥammad-Taqíy-i-Kirmání was led to the scene of execution. The ghastliness of the sight he beheld provoked his violent indignation. “Approach, you wretched and heartless tyrant,” he burst forth as he turned to his persecutor, “and hasten to slay me, for I am impatient to join my beloved Ḥusayn. To live after him is a torture I cannot endure.”

6. No sooner had Ḥájí Muḥammad-Taqí uttered these words than Siyyid Murtadá, who was one of the noted merchants of Zanján, hastened to take precedence of his companions. He flung himself over the body of Ḥájí Muḥammad-Taqí, and pleaded that, being a siyyid, his martyrdom would be more meritorious in the sight of God than that of Ḥájí Muḥammad-Taqí. As the executioner unsheathed his sword, Siyyid Murtadá invoked the memory of his martyred brother, who had struggled side by side with Mullá Ḥusayn; and such were his references that the onlookers marvelled at the unyielding tenacity of the faith with which he was inspired.

7. In the midst of the turmoil which the stirring words of Siyyid Murtadá had raised, Muḥammad-Ḥusayn-i-Maraghiyí rushed forward and begged that he be allowed to be martyred immediately ere his companions were put to the sword. As soon as his eyes fell upon the body of Ḥájí Mullá Ismá’íl-i-Qumí, for whom he entertained a deep affection, he impulsively threw himself upon him and, holding him in his embrace, exclaimed: “Never will I consent to separate myself from my dearly beloved friend, in whom I have reposed the utmost confidence and from whom I have received so many evidences of a sincere and deep-felt affection!”

Their eagerness to precede one another in laying down their lives for their Faith astonished the multitude who wondered which of the three would be preferred to his companions. They pleaded with such fervour that eventually they were beheaded, all three, at one and the same moment.

So great a faith, such evidences of unbridled cruelty, human eye has rarely beheld. Few as they were in number, yet when we recall the circumstances of their martyrdom, we are compelled to acknowledge the stupendous character of that force which could evoke so rare a spirit of self-sacrifice. When we remember the exalted rank these victims had occupied, when we observe the degree of their renunciation and the vitality of their faith, when we recall the pressure which from influential quarters had been exerted to avert the danger with which their lives were threatened, above all when we picture to our minds the spirit that defied the atrocities which a heartless enemy so far bemeaned themselves as to inflict upon them, we are impelled to look upon that episode as one of the most tragic occurrences in the annals of this Cause.

At this stage of my narrative I was privileged to submit to Bahá’u’lláh such sections of my work as I had already revised and completed. How abundantly have my labours been rewarded by Him whose favour alone I seek, and for whose satisfaction I have addressed myself to this task! He graciously summoned me to His presence and vouchsafed me His blessings. I was in my home in the prison-city of ‘Akká, and lived in the neighbourhood of the house of Áqáy-i-Kalím, when the summons of my Beloved reached me. That day, the seventh of the month of Rabí’u’th-Thání in the year 1306 A.H., I shall never forget. I here reproduce the gist of His words to me on that memorable occasion:

“In a Tablet which We yesterday revealed, We have explained the meaning of the words, ‘Turn your eyes away,’ in the course of Our reference to the circumstances attending the gathering at Badasht. We were celebrating, in the company of a number of distinguished notables, the nuptials of one of the princes of royal blood in Ṭihrán, when Siyyid Aḥmad-i-Yazdí, father of Siyyid Ḥusayn, the Báb’s amanuensis, appeared suddenly at the door. He beckoned to Us, and seemed to be the bearer of an important message which he wished immediately to deliver. We were, however, unable at that moment to leave the gathering, and motioned to him to wait. When the meeting had dispersed, he informed Us that Ṭáhirih had been placed in strict confinement in Qazvín, and that her life was in great danger. We immediately summoned Muḥammad-Hádíy-i-Farhádí, and gave him the necessary directions to release her from her captivity, and escort her to the capital. As the enemy had seized Our house, We were unable to accommodate her indefinitely in Our home. Accordingly, We arranged for her transference from Our house to that of the Minister of War, who, in those days, had been disgraced by his sovereign and had been deported to Káshán. We requested his sister, who still was numbered among Our friends, to act as hostess to Ṭáhirih.

“She remained in her company until the call of the Báb, bidding Us proceed to Khurasán, reached Our ears. We decided that Ṭáhirih should proceed immediately to that province, and commissioned Mírzá to conduct her to a place outside the gate of the city, and from thence to any locality she deemed advisable in that neighbourhood. She was taken to an orchard in the vicinity of which was a deserted building, where they found an old man who acted as its caretaker. Mírzá Músá returned and informed Us of the reception which had been accorded to them, and highly praised the beauty of the surrounding landscape. We subsequently arranged for her departure for Khurasán, and promised that We would follow within the space of a few days.

“We soon joined her at Badasht, where We rented a garden for her use, and appointed the same Muḥammad-Hádí who had achieved her deliverance, as her doorkeeper. About seventy of Our companions were with Us and lodged in a place in the vicinity of that garden.

“We fell ill one day, and were confined to bed. Ṭáhirih sent a request to call upon Us. We were surprised at her message, and were at a loss as to what We should reply. Suddenly We saw her at the door, her face unveiled before Us. How well has Mírzá Áqá Ján commented upon that incident. ‘The face of Fáṭimih,’ he said, ‘must needs be revealed on the Day of Judgment and appear unveiled before the eyes of men. At that moment the voice of the Unseen shall be heard saying: “Turn your eyes away from that which ye have seen.”

“How great was the consternation that seized the companions on that day! Fear and bewilderment filled their hearts. A few, unable to tolerate that which was to them so revolting a departure from the established customs of Islám, fled in horror from before her face. Dismayed, they sought refuge in a deserted castle in that neighbourhood. Among those who were scandalised by her behaviour and severed from her entirely were the Siyyid-i-Nahrí and his brother Mírzá Hádí, to both of whom We sent word that it was unnecessary for them to desert their companions and seek refuge in a castle.

“Our friends eventually dispersed, leaving Us at the mercy of Our enemies. When, at a later time, We went to Ámul, such was the turmoil which the people had raised that above four thousand persons had congregated in the masjid and had crowded onto the roofs of their houses. The leading mullá of the town denounced Us bitterly. ‘You have perverted the Faith of Islám,’ he cried in his mázindarání dialect, ‘and sullied its fame! Last night I saw you in a dream enter the masjid, which was thronged by an eager multitude that had gathered to witness your arrival. As the crowd pressed round you, I beheld, and, lo, the Qá’im was standing in a corner with His gaze fixed upon your countenance, His features betraying great surprise. This dream I regard as evidence of your having deviated from the path of Truth.’ We assured him that the expression of surprise on that countenance was a sign of the Qá’im’s strong disapproval of the treatment he and his fellow-townsmen had accorded Us. He questioned Us regarding the Mission of the Báb. We informed him that, although We had never met Him face to face, yet We cherished, none the less, a great affection for Him. We expressed Our profound conviction that He had, under no circumstances, acted contrary to the Faith of Islám.

The mullá and his followers, however refused to believe Us, and rejected Our testimony as a perversion of the truth. They eventually placed Us in confinement, and forbade Our friends to meet Us. The acting governor of Ámul succeeded in effecting Our release from captivity. Through an opening in the wall that he ordered his men to make, he enabled Us to leave that room, and conducted Us to his house. No sooner were the inhabitants informed of this act than they arose against Us, besieged the governor’s residence, pelted Us with stones, and hurled in Our face the foulest invectives.

“At the time We proposed to send Muḥammad-Hádíy-i-Farhádí to Qazvín, in order to achieve the deliverance of Ṭáhirih and conduct her to Ṭihrán, Shaykh Abú-Turáb wrote Us, insisting that such an attempt was fraught with grave risks and might occasion an unprecedented tumult. We refused to be deflected from Our purpose. That Shaykh was a kind-hearted man, was simple and lowly in temper, and behaved with great dignity. He lacked courage and determination, however, and betrayed weakness on certain occasions.”

A word should now be added regarding the closing stages of the tragedy that witnessed to the heroism of the Seven Martyrs of Ṭihrán. For three days and three nights they remained abandoned in the Sabzih-Maydán, which adjoined the imperial palace, exposed to untold indignities which an unrelenting foe heaped upon them. Thousands of devout shí’ahs gathered round their corpses, kicked them with their feet, and spat upon their faces. They were pelted, cursed, and mocked by the angry multitude. Heaps of refuse were flung upon their remains by the bystanders, and the foulest atrocities were perpetrated upon their bodies. No voice was raised in protest, no hand was stretched to stay the arm of the barbarous oppressor.

Having allayed the tumult of their passion, they buried them outside the gate of the capital, in a place which lay beyond the limits of the public cemetery, adjoining the moat, between the gates of Naw and of Sháh ‘Abdu’l-‘Aẓím. They were all laid in the same grave, thus remaining united in body, as they had been in spirit during the days of their earthly life.

The news of their martyrdom came as an added blow to the Báb, who was already plunged in sorrow at the fate that had befallen the heroes of Ṭabarsí. In the detailed Tablet He revealed in their honour, every word of which testified to the exalted position they occupied in His eyes, He referred to them as those very “Seven Goats” spoken of in the traditions of Islám, who on the Day of Judgment shall “walk in front of the promised Qá’im.” They shall symbolise by their life the noblest spirit of heroism, and by their death shall manifest true acquiescence in His will. By preceding the Qá’im, the Báb explained, is meant that their martyrdom will precede that of the Qá’im Himself, who is their Shepherd. What the Báb had predicted came to be fulfilled, inasmuch as His own martyrdom occurred four months later in Tabríz.

That memorable year witnessed, in addition to the martyrdom of the Báb and that of His seven companions in Ṭihrán, the momentous happenings of Nayríz which culminated in the death of Vahíd. Towards the end of that same year, Zanján likewise became the centre of a storm which raged with exceptional violence throughout the surrounding district, bringing in its wake the massacre of a vast number of the Báb’s staunchest disciples. That year, rendered memorable by the magnificent heroism which those staunch supporters of His Faith displayed, not to speak of the marvellous circumstances that attended His own martyrdom, must ever remain as one of the most glorious chapters ever recorded in that Faith’s blood-stained history. The entire face of the land was blackened by the atrocities in which a cruel and rapacious enemy freely and persistently indulged. From Khurasán, on the eastern confines of Persia, as far west as Tabríz, the scene of the Báb’s martyrdom, and from the northern cities of Zanján and Ṭihrán stretching south as far as Nayríz, in the province of Fárs, the whole country was enveloped in darkness, a darkness that heralded the dawning light of the Revelation which the expected Ḥusayn was soon to manifest, a Revelation mightier and more glorious than that which the Báb Himself had proclaimed.


IN THE early days of the siege of the fort of Ṭabarsí, Vahíd was engaged in spreading the teachings of the Cause in Burújird as well as in the province of Kurdistán. He had resolved to win the majority of the inhabitants of those regions to the Faith of the Báb, and had intended to proceed from thence to Fárs and there continue his labours. As soon as he had learned of Mullá Ḥusayn’s departure for Mázindarán, he hastened to the capital and undertook the necessary preparations for his journey to the fort of Ṭabarsí. He was preparing to leave, when Bahá’u’lláh arrived from Mázindarán and informed him of the impossibility of joining his brethren. He was greatly saddened at this news, and his only consolation in those days was to visit Bahá’u’lláh frequently, and to obtain the benefit of His wise and priceless counsels.

Vahíd eventually determined to proceed to Qazvín and to resume the work in which he had been engaged. From thence he left for Qum and Káshán, where he met his fellow-disciples and was able to stimulate their enthusiasm and reinforce their efforts. He continued his journey to Iṣfahán, to Ardistán and Ardikán, and in each of these cities he proclaimed, with zest and fearlessness, the fundamental teachings of his Master and succeeded in winning over a considerable number of able supporters to the Cause. He reached Yazd in time to celebrate the festivities of Naw-Rúz with his brethren, who expressed their joy at his arrival and were greatly encouraged by his presence among them. Being a man of renowned influence, he possessed, in addition to his house in Yazd, where his wife and her four sons had settled, a home in Dáráb, which was the abode of his ancestors, and another one in Nayríz, which was superbly furnished.

He arrived at Yazd on the first day of the month of Jamádiyu’l-Avval, in the year 1266 A.H., the fifth day of which, the anniversary of the Báb’s Declaration, coincided with the feast of Naw-Rúz. The leading ‘ulamás and notables of the city all came on that day to greet him and to offer their best wishes. Navváb-i-Radaví, the meanest and most prominent among his adversaries, was present on that occasion, and maliciously hinted at the extravagance and splendour of that reception. “The Sháh’s imperial banquet,” he was heard to remark, “can scarcely hope to rival the sumptuous repast you have spread before us. I suspect that in addition to this national festival which to-day we are celebrating, you commemorate another one besides it.” Vahíd’s bold and sarcastic retort provoked the laughter of those who were present. All applauded, in view of the avarice and wickedness of the Navváb, the appropriateness of his remark. The Navváb, who had never encountered the ridicule of so large and distinguished a company, was stung by that answer. The smouldering fire which he nourished in his mind against his opponent now blazed forth with added intensity, and impelled him to satisfy his thirst for revenge.

Vahíd seized the occasion to proclaim, fearlessly and without reserve, in that gathering, the basic principles of his Faith, and to demonstrate their validity. The majority of those who heard him were but partially acquainted with the distinguishing features of the Cause, and were ignorant of its full import. Certain ones among them were irresistibly attracted, and readily embraced it; the rest, unable to challenge its claims publicly, denounced it in their hearts and swore to extirpate it by every means in their power. His eloquence and fearless exposition of the Truth inflamed their hostility and strengthened their determination to seek, without delay, the overthrow of his influence. That very day witnessed the combination of their forces against him, and marked the beginning of an episode that was destined to bring in its wake so much suffering and distress.

To destroy the life of Vahíd became the paramount object of their activity. They spread the news that, on the day of Naw-Rúz, in the midst of the assembled dignitaries of the city, both civil and ecclesiastical, Siyyid Yaḥyáy-i-Dárábí had had the temerity to unveil the challenging features of the Faith of the Báb and had adduced, for the purpose of his argument, proofs and evidences gleaned both from the Qur’án and from the traditions of Islám. “Though his listeners,” they urged, “ranked among the most illustrious of the mujtahids of the city, no one could be found in that assemblage to venture a protest against his vehement assertions of the claims of his creed. The silence kept by those who heard him has been responsible for the wave of enthusiasm which has swept over the city in his favour, and has brought no less than half of its inhabitants to his feet, while the remainder are being fast attracted.”

This report spread like wildfire throughout Yazd and the surrounding district. It kindled, on the one hand, the flame of bitter hatred, and, on the other, was instrumental in adding considerable numbers to those who had already identified themselves with that Faith. From Ardikán and Manshad, as well as from the more distant towns and villages, crowds of people, eager to hear of the new Message, flocked to the house of Vahíd. “What are we to do?” they asked him. “In what manner do you advise us to show forth the sincerity of our faith and the intensity of our devotion?” From morning till night, Vahíd was absorbed in resolving their perplexities and in directing their steps in the path of service.

For forty days, this feverish activity persisted on the part of his zealous supporters, both men and women. His house had become the rallying centre of an innumerable host of devotees who yearned to demonstrate worthily the spirit of the Faith that had fired their souls. The commotion that ensued provided the Navváb-i-Radaví with a fresh pretext for enlisting the support of the governor of the city, who was young and inexperienced in the affairs of State, in his efforts against his adversary. He soon fell a victim to the intrigues and machinations of that evil plotter, who succeeded in inducing him to despatch a force of armed men to besiege the house of Vahíd. While a regiment of the army was proceeding to that spot, a mob composed of the degraded elements of the city were, at the instigation of the Navváb, directing their steps towards that same place, determined by their threats and imprecations to intimidate its occupants.

Though hemmed in by hostile forces on every side, Vahíd continued, from the window of the upper floor of his house, to animate the zeal of his supporters and to clarify whatever remained obscure in their minds. At the sight of a whole regiment, reinforced by an infuriated mob, preparing to attack them, they turned to Vahíd in their distress and begged him to direct their steps. “This very sword that lies before me,” was his answer, as he remained seated beside the window, “was given me by the Qá’im Himself. God knows, had I been authorised by Him to wage holy warfare against this people, I would, alone and unaided, have annihilated their forces. I am, however, commanded to refrain from such an act.” “This very steed,” he added, as his eyes fell upon the horse which his servant Ḥasan had saddled and brought to the front of his house, “the late Muḥammad Sháh gave me, that with it I might undertake the mission with which he entrusted me, of conducting an impartial investigation into the nature of the Faith proclaimed by the Siyyid-i-Báb. He asked me to report personally to him the results of my enquiry, inasmuch as I was the only one among the ecclesiastical leaders of Ṭihrán in whom he could repose implicit confidence. I undertook that mission with the firm resolution of confuting the arguments of that siyyid, of inducing Him to abandon His ideas and to acknowledge my leadership, and of conducting Him with me to Ṭihrán as a witness to the triumph I was to achieve. When I came into His presence, however, and heard His words, the opposite of that which I had imagined took place. In the course of my first audience with Him, I was utterly abashed and confounded; by the end of the second, I felt as helpless and ignorant as a child; the third found me as lowly as the dust beneath His feet. He had indeed ceased to be the contemptible siyyid I had previously imagined. To me, He was the manifestation of God Himself, the living embodiment of the Divine Spirit. Ever since that day, I have yearned to lay down my life for His sake. I rejoice that the day I have longed to witness is fast approaching.”

Seeing the agitation that had seized his friends, he exhorted them to be calm and patient, and to rest assured that the omnipotent Avenger would ere long inflict, with His own invisible hand, a crushing defeat upon the forces arrayed against His loved ones. No sooner had he uttered these words than the news arrived that a certain Muḥammad-‘Abdu’lláh, whom no one suspected of being still alive, had suddenly emerged with a number of his comrades, who had likewise disappeared from sight, and, raising the cry of “Yá Sáhibu’z-Zamán!” had flung themselves upon their assailants and dispersed their forces. He displayed such courage that the whole detachment, abandoning their arms, had sought refuge, together with the governor, in the fort of Narin.

That night, Muḥammad-‘Abdu’lláh asked to be introduced into the presence of Vahíd. He assured him of his faith in the Cause, and acquainted him with the plans he had conceived of subjugating the enemy. “Although your intervention,” Vahíd replied, “has to-day averted from this house the danger of an unforeseen calamity, yet you must recognise that until now our contest with these people was limited to an argument centering round the Revelation of the Sáhibu’z-Zamán. The Navváb, however, will henceforth be induced to instigate the people against us, and will contend that I have arisen to establish my undisputed sovereignty over the entire province and intend to extend it over the whole of Persia.” Vahíd advised him to leave the city immediately, and to commit him to the care and protection of the Almighty. “Not until our appointed time arrives,” he assured him, “will the enemy be able to inflict upon us the slightest injury.”

Muḥammad-‘Abdu’lláh, however, preferred to ignore the advice of Vahíd. “It would be cowardly of me,” he was heard to remark as he retired, “to abandon my friends to the mercy of an irate and murderous adversary. What, then, would be the difference between me and those who forsook the Siyyidu’sh-Shuhada on the day of Ashura, and left him companionless on the field of Karbilá? A merciful God will, I trust, be indulgent towards me and will forgive my action.”

With these words, he directed his steps to the fort of Narin and compelled the forces that had massed in its vicinity to seek an inglorious refuge within the walls of the fort; and succeeded in keeping the governor confined along with those who were besieged. He himself kept watch, ready to intercept whatever reinforcements might seek to reach them.

Meanwhile the Navváb had succeeded in raising a general upheaval in which the mass of the inhabitants took part. They were preparing to attack the house of Vahíd when he summoned Siyyid ‘Abdu’l-‘Aẓím-i-Khú’í, surnamed the Siyyid-i-Khal-Dar, who had participated for a few days in the defence of the fort of Ṭabarsí, and whose dignity of bearing attracted widespread attention, and bade him mount his own steed and address publicly, through the streets and bazaars, an appeal on his behalf to the entire populace, and urge them to embrace the Cause of the Sáhibu’z-Zamán. “Let them know,” he added, “that I disclaim any intention of waging holy warfare against them. Let them be warned, however, that if they persist in besieging my house and continue their attacks upon me, in utter defiance of my position and lineage, I shall be constrained, as a measure of self-defence, to resist and disperse their forces. If they choose to reject my counsel and yield to the whisperings of the crafty Navváb, I will order seven of my companions to repulse their forces shamefully and to crush their hopes.”

The Siyyid-i-Khal-Dar leaped upon the steed and, escorted by four of his chosen brethren, rode out through the market and pealed out, in accents of compelling majesty, the warning he had been commissioned to proclaim. Not content with the message with which he had been entrusted, he ventured to add, in his own inimitable manner, a few words by which he sought to heighten the effect which the proclamation had produced. “Beware,” he thundered, “if you despise our plea. My lifted voice, I warn you, will prove sufficient to cause the very walls of your fort to tremble, and the strength of my arm will be capable of breaking down the resistance of its gates!”

His stentorian voice rang out like a trumpet, and diffused consternation in the hearts of those who heard it. With one voice, the affrighted population declared their intention to lay down their swords and cease to molest Vahíd, whose lineage they said they would henceforth recognise and respect.

Constrained by the blank refusal of the people to fight against Vahíd, the Navváb induced them to direct their attack against Muḥammad-‘Abdu’lláh and his comrades, who were stationed in the neighbourhood of the fort. The clash of these forces induced the governor to sally from his refuge and to instruct the besieged detachment to join hands with those who had been recruited by the Navváb. Muḥammad-‘Abdu’lláh had begun to disperse the mob that had rushed forth from the city against him, when he was suddenly assailed by the fire which the troops opened upon him by order of the governor. A bullet struck his foot and threw him to the ground. A number of his supporters were also wounded. His brother hurriedly got him away to a place of safety, and from thence carried him, at his request, to the house of Vahíd.

The enemy followed him to that house, fully determined to seize and slay him. The clamour of the people that had massed around his house compelled Vahíd to order Mullá Muḥammad-Riḍáy-i-Manshádí, one of the most enlightened ‘ulamás of Manshad, who had discarded his turban and offered himself as his doorkeeper, to sally forth and, with the aid of six companions, whom he would choose, to scatter their forces. “Let each one of you raise his voice,” he commanded them, “and repeat seven times the words ‘Alláh-u-Akbar,’ and on your seventh invocation spring forward at one and the same moment into the midst of your assailants.”

Mullá Muḥammad-Riḍá, whom Bahá’u’lláh had named Rada’r-Rúh, sprang to his feet and, with his companions, straightway proceeded to fulfil the instructions he had received. Those who accompanied him, though frail of form and inexperienced in the art of swordsmanship, were fired with a faith that made them the terror of their adversaries. Seven of the most redoubtable among the enemy perished that day, which was the twenty-seventh of the month of Jamádiyu’th-Thání. “No sooner had we routed the enemy,” Mullá Muḥammad-Riḍá related, “and returned to the house of Vahíd, than we found Muḥammad-‘Abdu’lláh lying wounded before us. He was carried to our leader, and partook of the food with which the latter had been served. Afterwards he was borne to a hiding place, where he remained concealed until he recovered from his wound. Eventually he was seized and slain by the enemy.”

That very night, Vahíd bade his companions disperse and exercise the utmost vigilance to secure their safety. He advised his wife to remove, with her children and all their belongings, to the home of her father, and to leave behind whatever was his personal property. “This palatial residence,” he informed her, “I have built with the sole intention that it should be eventually demolished in the path of the Cause, and the stately furnishings with which I have adorned it have been purchased in the hope that one day I shall be able to sacrifice them for the sake of my Beloved. Then will friend and foe alike realise that he who owned this house was endowed with so great and priceless a heritage that an earthly mansion, however sumptuously adorned and magnificently equipped, had no worth in his eyes; that it had sunk, in his estimation, to the state of a heap of bones to which only the dogs of the earth could feel attracted. Would that such compelling evidence of the spirit of renunciation were able to open the eyes of this perverse people, and to stir in them the desire to follow in the steps of him who showed that spirit!”

In the mid-watches of that same night, Vahíd arose and, collecting the writings of the Báb that were in his possession, as well as the copies of all the treatises that he himself had composed, entrusted them to his servant Ḥasan, and ordered him to convey them to a place outside the gate of the city where the road branches off to Mihríz. He bade him await his arrival, and warned him that, were he to disregard his instructions, he would never again be able to meet him.

No sooner had Ḥasan mounted his horse and prepared to leave than the cries of the sentinels, who kept watch at the entrance of the fort, reached his ears. Fearing lest they should capture him and seize the precious manuscripts in his possession, he decided to follow a different route from the one which his master had instructed him to take. As he was passing behind the fort, the sentinels recognised him, shot his horse, and captured him.

Meanwhile Vahíd was preparing to depart from Yazd. Leaving his two sons, Siyyid Ismá’íl and Siyyid ‘Alí-Muḥammad, in the care of their mother, he left, accompanied by his two other sons, Siyyid Aḥmad and Siyyid Mihdí, together with two of his companions who were both residents of Yazd and had asked permission to accompany him on his journey. The first, who was named Ghulam-Riḍá, was a man of exceptional courage, while the latter, Ghulam-Riḍáy-i-Kuchík, had distinguished himself in the art of marksmanship. He chose the same route that he had advised his servant to take, and, arriving safely at that spot, was surprised to find that Ḥasan was missing. Vahíd knew immediately that he had disregarded his directions and had been captured by the enemy. He deplored his fate, and was reminded of the action of Muḥammad-‘Abdu’lláh, who had similarly acted against his will and had in consequence suffered injury. They were subsequently informed that on the morning of that same day Ḥasan was blown from the mouth of a cannon and that a certain Mírzá Ḥasan, who had been the imám of one of the quarters of Yazd, and who was a man of renowned piety, had an hour later also been captured and subjected to the same fate as his comrade.

The departure of Vahíd from Yazd roused the enemy to fresh exertions. They rushed to his house, plundered his possessions, and demolished it completely. He himself was meanwhile directing his steps towards Nayríz. Though unaccustomed to walking, he covered, that night, seven farsangs on foot, while his sons were carried part of the way by his two companions. In the course of the ensuing day, he concealed himself within the recesses of a neighbouring mountain. As soon as his brother, who resided in that vicinity and entertained a deep affection for him, was informed of his arrival, he secretly despatched to him whatever provisions he required. That same day a body of the governor’s mounted attendants, who had set out in pursuit of Vahíd, arrived at that village, searched the house of his brother, where they suspected that he was concealed, and appropriated a large amount of his property. Unable to find him, they retraced their steps to Yazd.

Vahíd, in the meantime, made his way through the mountains until he reached the district of Bavanat-i-Fárs. Most of its inhabitants, who were numbered among his fervent admirers, readily embraced the Cause, among whom was the well-known Ḥájí Siyyid Ismá’íl, the Shaykhu’l-Islám of Bavánat. A considerable number of these people accompanied him as far as the village of Fasa, where the inhabitants refused to respond to the Message which he invited them to follow.

All along his route, wherever he tarried, Vahíd’s first thought, as soon as he had dismounted, was to seek the neighbouring masjid, wherein he would summon the people to hear him announce the tidings of the New Day. Utterly oblivious of the fatigues of his journey, he would promptly ascend the pulpit and fearlessly proclaim to his congregation the character of the Faith he had risen to champion he would spend only one night in that place if he had succeeded in winning to the Cause souls upon whom he could rely to propagate it after his departure. Otherwise he would straightway resume his march and refuse further to associate with them. “Through whichever village I pass,” he often remarked, “and fail to inhale from its inhabitants the fragrance of belief, its food and its drink are both distasteful to me.”

Arriving at the village of Runiz, in the district of Fasa, Vahíd decided to tarry for a few days. Those hearts which he found receptive to his call he strove to attract and to inflame with the fire of God’s love. As soon as the news of his arrival reached Nayríz, the entire population of the Chinár-Sukhtih quarter hastened out to meet him. People from other quarters likewise, impelled by their love and admiration for him, decided to join them. Fearing lest Zaynu’l-Ábidín Khán, the governor of Nayríz, should object to their visit, the majority of them set out at night. From the quarter of Chinár-Sukhtih alone more than a hundred students, preceded by their leader, Ḥájí Shaykh ‘Abdu’l-‘Alí, the father-in-law of Vahíd, and a judge of recognised standing throughout that district, were moved to join a number of the most distinguished among the notables of Nayríz in greeting the expected visitor ere his arrival at their town. Among these figured Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Ḥusayn, a venerable man of eighty who was highly esteemed for his piety and learning; Mullá Báqir, who was the Imám of the Chinár-Sukhtih quarter; Mírzá Ḥusayn-i-Qutb, the kad-khudá’ of the Bázár quarter, with all his relatives; Mírzá Abu’l-Qásim, a relative of the governor; Ḥájí Muḥammad-Taqí, who has been mentioned by Bahá’u’lláh in the “Suriy-i-Ayyúb,” together with his son-in-law; Mírzá Nawrá and Mírzá ‘Alí-Riḍá, both of the Sadat quarter.

All of these, some by day and others by night, went as far as the village of Runiz in order to extend their welcome to the visitor, and to assure him of their unalterable devotion. Although the Báb had revealed a general Tablet addressed specially to those who had newly embraced His Cause in Nayríz, yet its recipients remained ignorant of its significance and fundamental principles. It was given to Vahíd to enlighten them regarding its true purpose and set forth its distinguishing features.

No sooner had Zaynu’l-Ábidín Khán been made aware of the considerable exodus that had taken place for the purpose of welcoming the arrival of Vahíd, than he despatched a special messenger to overtake and inform those who had already departed of his determination to take the life, capture the wives, and confiscate the property of everyone who persisted in giving allegiance to him. Not one of those who departed heeded the warning, but rather did they cling still more passionately to their leader. Their unyielding determination and disdainful neglect of his messenger filled the governor with dismay. Fearful lest these should arise against him, he decided to transfer his residence to the village of Qutrih, where his original home had been, and which lay at a distance of eight farsangs from Nayríz. He chose that village because in its vicinity there stood a massive fortress which he could utilise as a place of refuge in case of danger. He was, moreover, assured that its inhabitants were trained in the art of marksmanship and could be relied upon whenever summoned to defend him.

Vahíd had meanwhile left Runiz for the shrine of Pír-Murád, which was situated outside the village of Istahbanat. Despite the interdiction pronounced by the ‘ulamás of that village against his admittance, no less than twenty of its inhabitants went out to welcome him, and accompanied him as far as Nayríz. When they arrived, in the forenoon of the fifteenth of Rajab, the first thing Vahíd did, as soon as he reached his native quarter of Chinár-Sukhtih, even before going to his own house, was enter the masjid and summon the congregation that had gathered to acknowledge and embrace the Message of the Báb. Impatient to face the multitude that awaited him, still wearing his dust-laden garments, he ascended the pulpit and spoke with such convincing eloquence that the whole audience was electrified by his appeal. No less than a thousand persons, all natives of the Chinár-Sukhtih quarter, and five hundred others from other sections of Nayríz, all of whom had thronged the building, spontaneously responded. “We have heard and we obey!” cried, with unrestrained enthusiasm, the jubilant multitude, as they came forward to assure him of their homage and gratitude. The spell which that impassioned address threw over the hearts of those who heard it was such as Nayríz had never before experienced. “My sole purpose,” Vahíd went on, explaining to his audience, as soon as the first flush of excitement had subsided, “in coming to Nayríz is to proclaim the Cause of God. I thank and glorify Him for having enabled me to touch your hearts with His Message. No need for me to tarry any longer in your midst, for if I prolong my stay, I fear that the governor will ill-treat you because of me. He may seek reinforcement from Shíráz and destroy your homes and subject you to untold indignities.” “We are ready and resigned to the will of God,” answered, with one voice, the congregation. “God grant us His grace to withstand the calamities that may yet befall us. We cannot, however, reconcile ourselves to so abrupt and hasty a separation from you.”

No sooner had these words escaped their lips than men and women joined hands in conducting Vahíd triumphantly to his home. Wild with excitement and exultant with joy, they pressed round him and, with cheers and acclamations, escorted him to the very entrance of his house.

The few days Vahíd consented to tarry in Nayríz were spent mostly in the masjid, where he continued with his customary eloquence and without the least reservation to propound the fundamental teachings which he had received from his Master. Every day witnessed an increase in the number of his audience, and from every side evidences of his marvellous influence became more and more manifest.

The fascination which he exerted over the people could not fail to fan to fury the dormant hostility of Zaynu’l-Ábidín Khán. He was roused to new exertions, and gave orders that an army be raised for the avowed purpose of eradicating a Cause which he felt was fast undermining his own position. He soon succeeded in recruiting about a thousand men, consisting of both cavalry and infantry, all of whom were well trained in the art of warfare and were equipped with an ample store of munitions. His plan was, by a sudden onset, to make him a prisoner.

Vahíd, as soon as he was informed of the designs of the governor, ordered those twenty companions who had left Istahbanat to welcome him, and who had accompanied him as far as Nayríz, to occupy the fort of Khájih, which was situated in the vicinity of the Chinár-Sukhtih quarter. He appointed Shaykh Hádí, son of Shaykh Muḥsin, as the leader of the band, and urged his followers who resided in that quarter to fortify the gates, the turrets, and the walls of that stronghold.

The governor had meanwhile transferred his seat to his own house in the Bázár quarter. The force he had raised accompanied him and occupied the fort situated in its vicinity. Its towers and walls, which he began to reinforce, overlooked the whole town. Having compelled Siyyid Abú-Talíb, the kad-khudá of that quarter and one of the companions of Vahíd, to evacuate his house, he fortified its roof and, stationing upon it a number of his men, under the command of Muḥammad-‘Alí Khán, he gave orders to open fire upon his adversary. The first to suffer was that same Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Ḥusayn who, despite his advanced age, had walked out to welcome Vahíd. He was offering his prayer on the roof of his house when a bullet struck his right foot, causing him to bleed profusely. That cruel blow evoked the sympathy of Vahíd, who hastened, in a written message to the sufferer, to express his grief at the injury he had sustained, and to cheer him with the thought that he, at this advanced stage of his life, was the first to be chosen to fall a victim in the path of the Cause.

The suddenness of the attack dismayed a number of the companions who had hastily embraced the Message and had failed to appreciate its full meaning. Their faith was so severely shaken that a few were induced, in the dead of night, to separate themselves from their companions and join forces with the enemy. Vahíd had no sooner been informed of their action than he arose at the hour of dawn and, mounting his steed and accompanied by a number of his supporters, rode out to the fort of Khájih, where he fixed his residence.

His arrival was the signal for a fresh attack upon him. Zaynu’l-Ábidín Khán immediately despatched his elder brother, ‘Alí-Aṣghar Khán, together with a thousand men, all armed and well trained, to lay siege to that fort, in which seventy-two companions had already taken shelter. At the hour of sunrise, a certain number of them, acting in accordance with the instructions or Vahíd, sallied forth, and with extraordinary rapidity forced the besiegers to disperse.

No more than three of the companions met their death in the course of that encounter. The first was Taju’d-Dín, a man renowned for his fearlessness, whose business was the manufacture of the woollen kuláh; the second was Zaynil, son of Iskandar, who was an agriculturist by profession; the third was Mírzá Abu’l-Qásim, who was a man of distinguished merit.

This complete and sudden rout aroused the apprehensions of Prince Fírúz Mírzá, the Nusratu’d-Dawlih, governor of Shíráz, who gave orders for the prompt extermination of the occupants of the fort. Zaynu’l-Ábidín Khán despatched one of the prince’s attendants to Vahíd, urging him, in view of the strained relations between them, to depart from Nayríz, in the hope that the mischief that had been kindled might soon be extinguished. “Tell him,” replied Vahíd, “that my two children, together with their two attendants, are all the company I have with me. If my presence in this town will cause mischief, I am willing to depart why is it that, instead of according us the welcome which befits a descendant of the Prophet, he has deprived us of water and has incited his men to besiege and attack us? If he persists in denying us the necessities of life, I warn him that seven of my companions, whom he regards as the most contemptible among men, will inflict upon his combined forces a humiliating defeat.”

Finding that Zaynu’l-Ábidín Khán ignored his warning, Vahíd ordered his companions to emerge from the fort and punish their assailants. With admirable courage and confidence, they succeeded, though extremely young in years, and utterly inexperienced in the use of arms, in demoralising a trained and organised army. ‘Alí-Aṣghar Khán himself perished, and two of his sons were captured. Zaynu’l-Ábidín Khán disgracefully retreated, with what still remained of his scattered forces, to the village of Qutrih, acquainted the prince with the gravity of the situation, and begged him to send immediate reinforcements, stressing in particular the need for heavy artillery and a large detachment of both infantry and cavalry.

Vahíd, on his part, finding that the enemy was bent on their extermination, gave orders that the defences of the fort be strengthened, that a water-cistern be constructed within its enclosure, and that the tents they had carried away be pitched outside its gates. That day certain of his companions had assigned to them special functions and duties. Karbilá’í Mírzá Muḥammad was made the gatekeeper of the fort; Shaykh Yúsúf, the custodian of the funds; Karbilá’í Muḥammad, son of Shamsu’d-Dín, the superintendent of the gardens adjoining the fort and its barricades; Mírzá Aḥmad, the uncle of ‘Alíy-i-Sardár, was appointed the officer in charge of the tower of the mill known by the name of Chinar, situated in the vicinity of the fort; Shaykhí-i-Shivih-Kash to be the executioner; Mírzá Muḥammad-Ja’far, cousin of Zaynu’l-Ábidín Khán, the chronicler; Mírzá Faḍlu’lláh as the reader of these records; Mashhadí Taqí-Baqqal to be the gaoler; Muḥammad Taqí, the registrar; and Ghulam-Riḍáy-i-Yazdí to be the captain of the forces. In addition to the seventy-two companions who were with him within the fort and had accompanied him from Istahbanat to Nayríz, Vahíd was induced, at the instance of Siyyid Ja’far-i-Yazdí, a well-known divine, and Shaykh ‘Abdu’l-‘Alí, Vahíd’s father-in-law, to admit to the fort a number of the residents of the Bázár quarter, together with several of his own kindred.

Zaynu’l-Ábidín Khán again renewed his appeal to the prince, and enclosed this time with his petition, which pleaded for urgent and adequate reinforcements, the sum of five thousand túmáns as his personal gift to him. He entrusted his letter to one of his intimate friends, Mullá Báqir, allowed him to mount his own steed, and instructed him to deliver it in person to the prince. He chose him for his intrepidity, his fluency of speech, and tactfulness. Mullá Báqir took an unfrequented route, and after a day’s journey reached a place called Hudashtak, in the neighbourhood of which was a fort around which tribes who roved the country sometimes pitched their tents.

Mullá Báqir dismounted near one of these tents, and whilst he was talking with its occupants, Ḥájí Siyyid Ismá’íl, the Shaykhu’l-Islám of Bavánat, arrived. He had obtained leave from Vahíd to proceed to his native village on some urgent affair, and to return immediately to Nayríz. After his lunch, he saw that a richly caparisoned horse was tethered to the ropes of one of the neighbouring tents. Being informed that it belonged to one of the friends of Zaynu’l-Ábidín Khán, who had arrived from Nayríz and was on his way to Shíráz, Ḥájí Siyyid Ismá’íl, who was a man of exceptional courage, immediately went to that tent, mounted the horse, and, unsheathing his sword, sternly spoke these words to the owner of the tent with whom Mullá Báqir was still conversing: “Arrest this scoundrel, who has fled from before the face of the Sáhibu’z-Zamán. Tie his hands and deliver him to me.” Affrighted by the words and manner of Ḥájí Mullá Ismá’íl, the occupants of the tent immediately obeyed. They bound his hands and delivered the rope with which they had tied him to Ḥájí Siyyid Ismá’íl, who spurred on his charger in the direction of Nayríz and compelled his captive to follow him. At a distance of two farsangs from that town, he reached the village of Rastaq and delivered his captive into the hands of its kad-khudá, whose name was Ḥájí Akbar, urging that he be conducted into the presence of Vahíd. When brought before him, the latter enquired as to the purpose of his journey to Shíráz, to which he gave a frank and detailed reply. Though Vahíd was willing to forgive him, yet Mullá Báqir, by reason of his attitude towards him, was eventually put to death at the hands of the companions.

Zaynu’l-Ábidín Khán, far from relaxing in his determination to solicit the aid he needed from Shíráz, appealed this time with increased vehemence to the prince, begging him to redouble his efforts for the extermination of what he regarded as the gravest menace to the security of his province. Not content with his earnest entreaty, he despatched to Shíráz a number of his trusted men, whom he loaded with presents for the prince, hoping thereby to induce him to act with promptness. In a further effort to ensure the success of his endeavours, he addressed several appeals to the leading ‘ulamás and siyyids of Shíráz, wherein he glaringly misrepresented the aims of Vahíd, expatiated upon his subversive activities, and urged them to intercede with the prince and entreat him to expedite the despatch of reinforcements.

The prince readily granted their request. He instructed ‘Abdu’lláh Khán, the Shujá’u’l-Mulk, to set out at once for Nayríz, accompanied by the Hamadání and Silakhúrí regiments, headed by several officers, and provided with an adequate force of artillery. He, moreover, instructed his representative in Nayríz to recruit all the able-bodied men from the surrounding district, including the villages of Istahbanat, Íraj, Panj-Ma’adin, Qutrih, Bashnih, Dih-Cháh, Mushkán, and Rastaq. To these he added the members of the tribe known by the name of Visbaklaríyyih, whom he commanded to join the army of Zaynu’l-Ábidín Khán.

An innumerable host suddenly surrounded the fort in which Vahíd and his companions were besieged, and began to dig trenches around it and to set up barricades along those trenches. No sooner was the work accomplished than they opened fire on them. A bullet struck the house on which one of Vahíd’s attendants was riding as he was keeping watch at the gate. Another bullet followed immediately upon the first, and penetrated the turret above that gate. In the course of that bombardment, one of the companions, aiming with his rifle at the officer in charge of the artillery, shot him dead instantly, as a result of which the roar of the guns was immediately silenced. The assailants meanwhile retreated and hid themselves within their trenches. That night neither the besieged nor those who attacked them ventured to sally forth from their places of shelter.

The second night, however, Vahíd summoned Ghulam-Riḍáy-i-Yazdí and instructed him, together with fourteen of his companions, to sally forth from the fort and drive off the enemy. Those who were called upon to perform that task were for the most part men of advanced age, whom no one would have thought capable of bearing the brunt of so fierce a struggle. Among them was a shoemaker who, though more than ninety years of age, showed such enthusiasm and vigour as no youth could hope to exceed. The rest of the fourteen were mere lads, as yet wholly unprepared to face the perils and endure the strain which such a sally entailed. Age, however, to those heroes, whom a dauntless will and an immovable confidence in the high destiny of their Cause had wholly transformed, mattered but little. They were instructed by their leader to divide immediately after they left the cover of the fort and, raising simultaneously the cry of “Alláh-u-Akbar!” to spring into the midst of the enemy.

No sooner had the signal been given than they arose and, hurrying to their steeds and rifles, marched out of the gate of the fort. Undaunted by the fire which spouted from the mouths of the cannons and by the bullets which rained upon their heads, they plunged headlong into the midst of their adversaries. This sudden encounter lasted for no less than eight hours, during which that fearless band was able to demonstrate such skill and bravery as amazed the veterans in the ranks of the enemy. From the town of Nayríz, as well as from its surrounding fortifications reinforcements rushed to the aid of the small company that had withstood so valiantly the combined forces of a whole army. As the scope of the struggle extended, the voices of the women of Nayríz, who had rushed to the roofs of their houses to acclaim the heroism which was being so strikingly displayed, were raised from every side. Their exulting cheers swelled the roar of the guns, which acquired added intensity by the shout of “Alláh-u-Akbar!” which the companions, in a frenzy of excitement, raised amidst that tumult. The uproar caused by their womenfolk, their amazing audacity and self-confidence, utterly demoralised their opponents and paralysed their efforts. The camp of the enemy was desolate and forsaken, and offered a sad spectacle as the victors retraced their steps to the fort. They carried with them, in addition to those who were grievously wounded, no less than sixty dead, among whom were the following:

1. Ghulam-Riḍáy-i-Yazdí (not to be confounded with the captain of the forces who bore the same name),

2. Brother of Ghulam-Riḍáy-i-Yazdí,

3. ‘Alí, son of Khayru’lláh,

4. Khájih Ḥusayn-i-Qannad, son of Khájih Ghání,

5. Asghar, son of Mullá Mihdí,

6. Karbilá’í ‘Abdu’l-Karím,

7. Ḥusayn, son of Mashhadí Muḥammad,

8. Zaynu’l-Ábidín, son of Mashhadí Báqir-i-Sabbagh,

9. Mullá Ja’far-i-Mudhahhib,

10. ‘Abdu’lláh, son of Mullá Músá,

11. Muḥammad, son of Mashhadí Rajab-i-Haddad,

12. Karbilá’í Ḥasan, son of Karbilá’í Shamsu’d-Dín-i-Maliki-Duz,

13. Karbilá’í Mírzá Muḥammad-i-Zari’,

14. Karbilá’í Báqir-i-Kafsh-Duz,

15. Mírzá Aḥmad, son of Mírzá Ḥusayn-i-Káshi-Sáz,

16. Mullá Ḥasan, son of Mullá ‘Abdu’lláh,

17. Mashhadí Ḥájí Muḥammad,

18. Abú-Talíb, son of Mír Aḥmad-i-Nukhud-Biriz,

19. Akbar, son of Muḥammad-i-’Ashur,

20. Taqíy-i-Yazdí,

21. Mullá ‘Alí, son of Mullá Ja’far,

22. Karbilá’í Mírzá Ḥusayn,

23. Ḥusayn Khán, son of Sharíf,

24. Karbilá’í Qurbán,

25. Khájih Káẓim, son of Khájih ‘Alí,

26. Áqá, son of Ḥájí ‘Alí,

27. Mírzá Nawrá, son of Mírzá Mu’ina.

So complete a failure convinced Zaynu’l-Ábidín Khán and his staff of the futility of their efforts to compel, in an open contest, the submission of their adversaries. As was the case with the army of Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá, who had miserably failed to subdue his opponents fairly in the field, treachery and fraud proved eventually the sole weapons with which a cowardly people could conquer an invincible enemy. By the devices to which Zaynu’l-Ábidín Khán and his staff eventually resorted, they betrayed their powerlessness, despite the vast resources at their disposal and the moral support which the governor of Fárs and the inhabitants of the whole province had extended to them, to vanquish what to outward appearance seemed but a handful of untrained and contemptible people. In their hearts, they were convinced that behind the walls of that fort were clustered a band of volunteers which no force at their command could face and defeat.

By raising the cry of peace, they sought, through such base cunning, to beguile those pure and noble hearts. For a few days they suspended all manner of hostility, after which they addressed a solemn and written appeal to the besieged, which in substance ran as follows: “Hitherto, as we were ignorant of the true character of your Faith, we have allowed the mischief-makers to induce us to believe that every one of you has violated the sacred precepts of Islám. Therefore did we arise against you, and have endeavoured to extirpate your Faith. During the last few days, we have been made aware of the fact that your activities are untinged by any political motive, that none of you cherish any inclination to subvert the foundations of the State. We also have been convinced of the fact that your teachings do not involve any grave departure from the fundamental teachings of Islám. All that you seem to uphold is the claim that a man has appeared whose words are inspired and whose testimony is certain, and whom all the followers of Islám must recognise and support. We can in no wise be convinced of the validity of this claim unless you consent to repose the utmost confidence in our sincerity, and accept our request to allow certain of your representatives to emerge from the fort and meet us in this camp, where we can, within the space of a few days, ascertain the character of your belief. If you prove yourselves able to demonstrate the true claims of your Faith, we too will readily embrace it, for we are not the enemies Truth, and none of us wish to deny it. Your leader we have always recognised as one of the ablest champions of Islám, and we regard him as our example and guide. This Qur’án, to which we affix our seals, is the witness to the integrity of our purpose. Let that holy Book decide whether the claim you advance is true or false. The malediction of God and His Prophet rest upon us if we should attempt to deceive you. Your acceptance of our invitation will save a whole army from destruction, whilst your refusal will leave them in suspense and doubt. We pledge our word that as soon as we are convinced of the truth of your Message, we shall strive to display the same zeal and devotion you already have so strikingly manifested. Your friends will be our friends, and your enemies our enemies. Whatever your leader may choose to command, the same we pledge ourselves to obey. On the other hand, if we fail to be convinced of the truth of your claim, we solemnly promise that we shall in no wise interfere with your safe return to the fort, and shall be willing to resume our contest against you. We entreat you to refuse to shed more blood before attempting to establish the truth of your