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The Dawn-Breakers (part 2)

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

These precautionary measures which the Bab deemed wise to undertake, relieved Him from the immediate danger of violence from the infuriated people of Shiraz, and served to lend a fresh impetus to the propagation of His Faith beyond the limits of that city. His disciples, who had spread throughout the length and breadth of the country, fearlessly proclaimed to the multitude of their countrymen the regenerating power of the new-born Revelation. The fame of the Bab had been noised abroad and had reached the ears of those who held the highest seats of authority, both in the capital and throughout the provinces.[1] A wave of passionate enquiry swayed the minds and hearts of both the leaders and the <p171> masses of the people. Amazement and wonder had seized those who had heard from the lips of the immediate messengers of the Bab the tales of those signs and testimonies which had heralded the birth of His Manifestation. The dignitaries of State and Church either attended in person or delegated their ablest representatives to enquire into the truth and character of this remarkable Movement.

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

Muhammad Shah [1] himself was moved to ascertain the veracity of these reports and to enquire into their nature. He delegated Siyyid Yahyay-i-Darabi,[2] the most learned, the most eloquent, and the most influential of his subjects, to interview the Bab and to report to him the results of his investigations. The Shah had implicit confidence in his impartiality, in his competence and profound spiritual insight. He occupied a position of such pre-eminence among the leading figures in Persia that at whatever meeting he happened to be present, no matter how great the number of the ecclesiastical leaders who attended it, he was invariably its chief speaker. None would dare to assert his views in his presence. They all reverently observed silence before him; all testified to his sagacity, his unsurpassed knowledge and mature wisdom.

[1 Refer to "Pedigree of the Qajar Dynasty" at the beginning of the book.]

[2 Concerning him, Abdu'l-Baha has written the following: "This remarkable man, this precious soul, had committed to memory no less than thirty thousand traditions, and was highly esteemed and admired by all classes of people. He had achieved universal renown in Persia, and his authority and erudition were widely and fully recognized." (From manuscript relating to martyrdoms in Persia.) "This personage was, as his name indicates, born at Darab near Shiraz; his father, Siyyid Ja'far, surnamed Kashfi, was one of the greatest and most celebrated Ulamas of that period. His high moral character, his righteous ways had attracted to him universal esteem and consideration. His science had won for him the glorious name of Kashfi, that is to say, one who discovers and explains the divine secrets. Brought up by him, his son was not slow to equal him in every way and he enjoyed the public favor bestowed on his father. When he went to Tihran, he was preceded by his fame and popularity. He became the regular guest of Prince Tahmasp Mirza, Mu'ayyadu'd-Dawlih, grandson of Fath-'Ali Shah by his father Muhammad-'Ali Mirza. The government itself paid homage to his science and to his merit and he was consulted more than once in trying circumstances. It was of him that Muhammad Shahet Haji Mirza Aqasi thought when they wished to find an honest emissary whose faithfulness could not be questioned." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 233.) "While these events were taking place in the north of Persia, the central and southern provinces were deeply roused by the fiery eloquence of the missionaries of the new doctrine. The people, light, credulous, ignorant, superstitious in the extreme, were struck dumb by the incessant miracles which they heard related every moment; the anxious priests, feeling their flock quivering with impatience and ready to escape their control, redoubled their slanders and infamous imputations; the grossest lies, the most bloody fictions were spread among the bewildered populace, torn between horror and admiration.... Siyyid Ja'far was unacquainted with the doctrine of the Shaykhis as he was with those of Mulla Sadra. Nevertheless, his burning zeal and his ardent imagination had carried him, towards the end of his life, out of the ways of the orthodox Shiite. He interpreted the 'hadiths' differently from his colleagues and claimed even, so they said, to have fathomed the seventy inner meanings of the Qur'an. His son, who was to outdo these oddities, was at that time about thirty-five years of age. After the completion of his studies, he came to Tihran where he became intimately associated with all that the court counted of great personages and distinguished men. It was upon him that the choice of His Majesty fell. He was, therefore, commissioned to go to Shiraz to make contact with the Bab and to inform the central authority, as exactly as possible, of the political consequences which would result from a reform which seemed likely unsettle heart of the country." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 387-388.)] <p172>

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

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

On his way, he conceived the various questions which he thought he would submit to the Bab. Upon the replies which the latter gave to these questions would, in his view, depend the truth and validity of His mission. Upon his arrival at Shiraz, he met Mulla Shaykh Ali, surnamed Azim, with whom he had been intimately associated while in Khurasan. He asked him whether he was satisfied with his interview with the Bab. "You should meet Him," Azim replied, "and seek independently to acquaint yourself with His Mission. As a friend, I would advise you to exercise the utmost consideration <p173> in your conversations with Him, lest you, too, in the end should be obliged to deplore any act of discourtesy towards Him."

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

In the course of his second interview, Siyyid Yahya, to his amazement, discovered that all the questions which he had intended to submit to the Bab had vanished from his memory. He contented himself with matters that seemed irrelevant to the object of his enquiry. He soon found, to his still greater surprise, that the Bab was answering, with the same lucidity and conciseness that had characterised His previous replies, those same questions which he had momentarily forgotten. "I seemed to have fallen fast asleep," he later observed. "His words, His answers to questions which I had forgotten to ask, reawakened me. A voice still kept whispering in my ear: 'Might not this, after all, have <p174> been an accidental coincidence?' I was too agitated to collect my thoughts. I again begged leave to retire. Azim, whom I subsequently met, received me with cold indifference, and sternly remarked: 'Would that schools had been utterly abolished, and that neither of us had entered one! Through our little-mindedness and conceit, we are withholding from ourselves the redeeming grace of God, and are causing pain to Him who is the Fountain thereof. Will you not this time beseech God to grant that you may be enabled to attain His presence with becoming humility and detachment, that perchance He may graciously relieve you from the oppression of uncertainty and doubt?'

"I resolved that in my third interview with the Bab I would in my inmost heart request Him to reveal for me a commentary on the Surih of Kawthar.[1] I determined not to breathe that request in His presence. Should he, unasked by me, reveal this commentary in a manner that would immediately distinguish it in my eyes from the prevailing standards current among the commentators on the Qur'an, I then would be convinced of the Divine character of His Mission, and would readily embrace His Cause. If not, I would refuse to acknowledge Him. As soon as I was ushered into His presence, a sense of fear, for which I could not account, suddenly seized me. My limbs quivered as I beheld His face. I, who on repeated occasions had been introduced into the presence of the Shah and had never discovered the slightest trace of timidity in myself, was now so awed and shaken that I could not remain standing on my feet. The Bab, beholding my plight, arose from His seat, advanced towards me, and, taking hold of my hand, seated me beside Him. 'Seek from Me,' He said, 'whatever is your heart's desire. I will readily reveal it to you.' I was speechless with wonder. Like a babe that can neither understand nor speak, I felt powerless to respond. He smiled as He gazed at me and said: 'Were I to reveal for you the commentary on the Surih of Kawthar, would you acknowledge that My words are born of the Spirit of God? Would you recognize 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. <p175> All I was able to utter was this verse of the Qur'an: 'O our Lord, with ourselves have we dealt unjustly: if Thou forgive us not and have not pity on us, we shall surely be of those who perish.'

[1 Qur'an, 108.]

"It was still early in the afternoon when the Bab requested Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali to bring His pen-case and some paper. He then started to reveal His commentary on the Surih of Kawthar. How am I to describe this scene of inexpressible majesty? Verses streamed from His pen with a rapidity that was truly astounding. The incredible swiftness of His writing,[1] the soft and gentle murmur of His voice, and the stupendous force of His style, amazed and bewildered me. He continued in this manner until the approach of sunset. He did not pause until the entire commentary of the Surih was completed. He then laid down His pen and asked for tea. Soon after, He began to read it aloud in my presence. My heart leaped madly as I heard Him pour out, in accents of unutterable sweetness, those treasures enshrined in that sublime commentary.[2] 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 <p176> restored my vigour and enabled me to follow His reading to the end.

[1 According to the "Kashfu'l-Ghita'" (p. 81), no less than two thousand verses were revealed on that occasion by the Bab. The bewildering rapidity of this revelation was no less remarkable in the eyes of Siyyid Yahya than the matchless beauty and profound meaning of the verses in that commentary. "Within five hours' time he revealed two thousand verses, that is, he spoke as fast as the scribe could write. One can judge thereby that, if he had been left free, how many of his works from the beginning of his manifestation until today would have been spread abroad among men." ("Le Bayan Persan," vol. I, p. 43.) "God had given him such power and such fluency of expression that, if a scribe wrote with the most extreme rapidity during two days and two nights without interruption, he would reveal, out of this mine of eloquence, the equivalent of the Qur'an." (Ibid., vol. 2, p. 132.)]

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

"When He had completed His recital, the Bab arose to depart. He entrusted me, as He left, to the care of His maternal uncle. 'He is to be your guest,' He told him, 'until the time when he, in collaboration with Mulla Abdu'l-Karim, shall have finished transcribing this newly revealed commentary, and shall have verified the correctness of the transcribed copy.' Mulla Abdu'l-Karim and I devoted three days and three nights to this work. We would in turn read aloud to each other a portion of the commentary until the whole of it had been transcribed. We verified all the traditions in the text and found them to be entirely accurate. Such was the state of certitude to which I had attained that if all the powers of the earth were to be leagued against me they would be powerless to shake my confidence in the greatness of His Cause.[1]

"As I had, since my arrival at Shiraz, been living in the home of Husayn Khan, the governor of Fars, I felt that my prolonged absence from his house might excite his suspicion and inflame his anger. I therefore determined to take leave of Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali and Mulla Abdu'l-Karim and to regain the residence of the governor. On my arrival I found that Husayn Khan, who in the meantime had been searching for me, was eager to know whether I had fallen a victim to the Bab's magic influence. 'No one but God,' I replied, 'who alone can change the hearts of men, is able to captivate the heart of Siyyid Yahya. Whoso can ensnare his heart is of God, and His word unquestionably the voice of Truth.' My answer silenced the governor. In his conversation with others, I subsequently learned, he had expressed the view that I too had fallen a hopeless victim to the charm of that Youth. He had even written to Muhammad Shah and complained that during my stay in Shiraz I had refused all manner of intercourse with the ulamas of the city. 'Though nominally my guest,' he wrote to his sovereign, 'he frequently <p177> absents himself for a number of consecutive days and nights from my house. That he has become a Babi, that he has been heart and soul enslaved by the will of the Siyyid-i-Bab, I have ceased to entertain any doubt.'

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

"Muhammad Shah himself, at one of the state functions in his capital, was reported to have addressed these words to Haji Mirza Aqasi: 'We have been lately informed [1] that Siyyid Yahyay-i-Darabi has become a Babi. If this be true, it behoves us to cease belittling the cause of that siyyid.' Husayn Khan, on his part, received the following imperial command: 'It is strictly forbidden to any one of our subjects to utter such words as would tend to detract from the exalted rank of Siyyid Yahyay-i-Darabi. He is of noble lineage, a man of great learning, of perfect and consummate virtue. He will under no circumstances incline his ear to any cause unless he believes it to be conducive to the advancement of the best interests of our realm and to the well-being of the Faith of Islam.'

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

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

"I was subsequently commanded by the Bab to journey to Burujird, and there acquaint my father [1] 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."

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

Another dignitary of the realm who dispassionately investigated and ultimately embraced the Message of the Bab <p178> was Mulla Muhammad-'Ali,[1] a native of Zanjan, whom the Bab surnamed Hujjat-i-Zanjani. He was a man of independent mind, noted for extreme originality and freedom from all forms of traditional restraint. He denounced the whole hierarchy of the ecclesiastical leaders of his country, from the Abvab-i-Arba'ih [2] down to the humblest mulla among his contemporaries. He despised their character, deplored their degeneracy, and expatiated upon their vices. He even, prior to his conversion, betrayed an attitude of careless contempt for Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i and Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti.[3] He was so filled with horror at the misdeeds that had stained the history of shi'ah Islam that whoever belonged to that sect, no matter how high his personal attainments, was regarded by him as unworthy of his consideration. Not infrequently did cases of fierce controversy arise between him and the divines of Zanjan which, but for the personal intervention of the Shah, would have led to grave disorder and bloodshed. He was eventually summoned to the capital and, in the presence of his opponents, representatives of the ecclesiastical heads of Tihran and other cities, was called upon to vindicate his claim. Single-handed and alone he would establish his superiority over his adversaries and would silence their clamour. Although in their hearts they dissented from his views and condemned his conduct, they were compelled to acknowledge outwardly his authority and to confirm his opinion.

[1 He was styled Hujjatu'l-Islam.]

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

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

As soon as the Call from Shiraz reached his ears, Hujjat deputed one of his disciples, Mulla Iskandar, in whom he reposed the fullest confidence, to enquire into the whole matter and to report to him the result of his investigations. Utterly indifferent to the praise and censure of his countrymen, whose integrity he suspected and whose judgment he disdained, he sent his delegate to Shiraz with explicit instructions to conduct a minute and independent enquiry. Mulla Iskandar attained the presence of the Bab and felt immediately the regenerating power of His influence. He tarried <p179> forty days in Shiraz, during which time he imbibed the principles of the Faith and acquired, according to his capacity, a knowledge of the measure of its glory.

With the approval of the Bab, he returned to Zanjan. He arrived at a time when all the leading ulamas of the city had assembled in the presence of Hujjat. As soon as he appeared, Hujjat enquired whether he believed in, or rejected, the new Revelation. Mulla Iskandar submitted the writings of the Bab which he had brought with him, and asserted that whatever should be the verdict of his master, the same would he deem it his obligation to follow. "What!" angrily exclaimed Hujjat. "But for the presence of this distinguished company; I would have chastised you severely. How dare you consider matters of belief to be dependent upon the approbation or rejection of others?" Receiving from the hand of his messenger the copy of the Qayyumu'l-Asma', he, as soon as he had perused a page of that book, fell prostrate upon the ground and exclaimed "I bear witness that these words which I have read proceed from the same Source as that of the Qur'an. Whoso has recognized 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.[1]

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

We have, in the preceding pages, referred to the expulsion of Quddus and of Mulla Sadiq from Shiraz, and have attempted to describe, however inadequately, the chastisement inflicted upon them by the tyrannical and rapacious Husayn <p180> Khan. A word should now be said regarding the nature of their activities after their expulsion from that city. For a few days they continued to journey together, after which they separated, Quddus departing for Kirman in order to interview Haji Mirza Karim Khan, and Mulla Sadiq directing his steps towards Yazd with the intention of pursuing among the ulamas of that province the work which he had been so cruelly forced to abandon in Fars. Quddus was received, upon his arrival, at the home of Haji Siyyid Javad-i-Kirmani, whom he had known in Karbila and whose scholarship, skill, and competence were universally recognized by the people of Kirman. At all the gatherings held in his home, he invariably assigned to his youthful guest the seat of honour and treated him with extreme deference and courtesy. So marked a preference for so young and seemingly mediocre a person kindled the envy of the disciples of Haji Mirza Karim Khan, who, describing in vivid and exaggerated language the honours which were being lavished upon Quddus, sought to excite the dormant hostility of their chief. "Behold," they whispered in his ears, "he who is the best beloved, the trusted and most intimate companion of the Siyyid-i-Bab, is now the honoured guest of one who is admittedly the most powerful inhabitant of Kirman. If he be allowed to live in close companionship with Haji Siyyid Javad, he will no doubt instil his poison into his soul, and will fashion him as the instrument whereby he will succeed in disrupting your authority and in extinguishing your fame." Alarmed by these evil whisperings, the cowardly Haji Mirza Karim Khan appealed to the governor and induced him to call in person upon Haji Siyyid Javad and demand that he terminate that dangerous association. The representations of the governor inflamed the wrath of the intemperate Haji Siyyid Javad. "How often," he violently protested, "have I advised you <p181> to ignore the whisperings of this evil plotter! My forbearance has emboldened him. Let him beware lest he overstep his bounds. Does he desire to usurp my position? Is he not the man who receives into his home thousands of abject and ignoble people and overwhelms them with servile flattery? Has he not, again and again, striven to exalt the ungodly and to silence the innocent? Has he not, year after year, by reinforcing the hand of the evil-doer, sought to ally himself with him and gratify his carnal desires? Does he not until this day persist in uttering his blasphemies against all that is pure and holy in Islam? My silence seems to have added to his temerity and insolence. He gives himself the liberty of committing the foulest deeds, and refuses to allow me to receive and honour in my own home a man of such integrity, such learning and nobleness. Should he refuse to desist from his practice, let him be warned that the worst elements of the city will, at my instigation, expel him from Kirman." Disconcerted by such vehement denunciations, the governor apologised for his action. Ere he retired, he assured Haji Siyyid Javad that he need entertain no fear, that he himself would endeavour to awaken Haji Mirza Karim Khan to the folly of his behaviour, and would induce him to repent.

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

In the privacy of his home, Haji Siyyid Javad heard Quddus recount all the details of his activities from the day of his departure from Karbila until his arrival at Kirman. The circumstances of his conversion and his subsequent pilgrimage with the Bab stirred the imagination and kindled the flame of faith in the heart of his host, who preferred, however, to conceal his belief, in the hope of being able to guard more effectively the interests of the newly established community. "Your noble resolve," Quddus lovingly assured him, "will in itself be regarded as a notable service rendered to the <p182> Cause of God. The Almighty will reinforce your efforts and will establish for all time your ascendancy over your opponents."

The incident was related to me by a certain Mirza Abdu'llah-i-Ghawgka, who, while in Kirman, had heard it from the lips of Haji Siyyid Javad himself. The sincerity of the expressed intentions of the siyyid has been fully vindicated by the splendid manner in which, as a result of his endeavours, he succeeded in resisting the encroachments of the insidious Haji Mirza Karim Khan, who, had he remained unchallenged, would have caused incalculable harm to the Faith.

From Kirman, Quddus decided to leave for Yazd, and from thence to proceed to Ardikan, Nayin, Ardistan, Isfahan, Kashan, Qum, and Tihran. In each of these cities, notwithstanding the obstacles that beset his path, he succeeded in instilling into the understanding of his hearers the principles which he had so bravely risen to advocate. I have <p183> heard Aqay-i-Kalim, the brother of Baha'u'llah, describe in the following terms his meeting with Quddus in Tihran: "The charm of his person, his extreme affability, combined with a dignity of bearing, appealed to even the most careless observer. Whoever was intimately associated with him was seized with an insatiable admiration for the charm of that youth. We watched him one day perform his ablutions, and were struck by the gracefulness which distinguished him from the rest of the worshippers in the performance of so ordinary a rite. He seemed, in our eyes, to be the very incarnation of purity and grace."

In Tihran, Quddus was admitted into the presence of Baha'u'llah after which he proceeded to Mazindaran, where, in his native town of Barfurush, in the home of his father, he lived for about two years, during which time he was surrounded by the loving devotion of his family and kindred. His father had married, on the death of his first wife, a lady who treated Quddus with a kindness and care that no mother could have hoped to surpass. She longed to witness his wedding, and was often heard to express her fears lest she should have to carry with her to the grave the "supreme joy of her heart." "The day of my wedding," Quddus observed, "is not yet come. That day will be unspeakably glorious. Not within the confines of this house, but out in the open air, under the vault of heaven, in the midst of the Sabzih-Maydan, before the gaze of the multitude, there shall I celebrate my nuptials and witness the consummation of my hopes." Three years later, when that lady learned of the circumstances attending the martyrdom of Quddus in the Sabzih-Maydan, she recalled his prophetic words and understood their meaning.[1] Quddus remained in Barfurush until the time when he was joined by Mulla Husayn after the latter's return from his visit to the Bab in the castle of Mah-Ku. From Barfurush they set out for Khurasan, a journey rendered memorable by deeds so heroic that none of their countrymen could hope to rival them.

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

As to Mulla Sadiq, as soon as he arrived at Yazd, he enquired of a trusted friend, a native of Khurasan, about the <p184> latest developments connected with the progress of the Cause in that province. He was particularly anxious to be enlightened concerning the activities of Mirza Ahmad-i-Azghandi, and expressed his surprise at the seeming inactivity of one who, at a time when the mystery of the Faith was still undivulged, had displayed such conspicuous zeal in preparing the people for the acceptance of the expected Manifestation.

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

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

"Mirza Ahmad, concealing from his uncle his original intention to leave for Shiraz, decided to prolong his stay in Yazd. He showed him the book which he had compiled, and shared its contents with the ulamas who thronged from every quarter of the city to meet him. All were greatly impressed <p185> by the industry, the erudition, and the zeal which the compiler of that celebrated work had demonstrated.

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

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

Mulla Sadiq was greatly pleased to learn from the account of this incident that Mirza Ahmad was actually residing in Yazd, and that no obstacles stood in the way of his meeting with him. He went immediately to the masjid in which Siyyid Husayn was leading the congregational prayer and in which <p186> Mirza Ahmad delivered the sermon. Taking his seat in the first row among the worshippers, he joined them in prayer, after which he went straight to Siyyid Husayn and publicly embraced him. Uninvited, he immediately afterwards ascended the pulpit and prepared to address the faithful Siyyid Husayn, though at first startled, preferred to raise no objection, being curious to discover the motive, and ascertain the degree of the learning, of this sudden intruder. He motioned to his nephew to refrain from opposing him.

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

A wave of indignation and dismay swept over the entire congregation as these words of Mulla Sadiq pealed out this momentous announcement. The masjid rang with cries of "Blasphemy!" which an infuriated congregation shouted in horror against the speaker. "Descend from the pulpit," rose the voice of Siyyid Husayn amid the clamour and tumult of the people, as he motioned to Mulla Sadiq to hold his peace and to retire. No sooner had he regained the floor of the masjid than the whole company of the assembled worshippers rushed upon him and overwhelmed him with blows. Siyyid Husayn immediately intervened, vigorously dispersed the crowd, and, seizing the hand of Mulla Sadiq, forcibly drew him to his side. "Withhold your hands," he appealed to the multitude; "leave him in my custody. I will take him <p187> to my home, and will closely investigate the matter. A sudden fit of madness may have caused him to utter these words. I will myself examine him. If I find that his utterances are premeditated and that he himself firmly believes in the things which he has declared, I will, with my own hands, inflict upon him the punishment imposed by the law of Islam."

By this solemn assurance, Mulla Sadiq was delivered from the savage attacks of his assailants. Divested of his aba [1] and turban, deprived of his sandals and staff, bruised and shaken by the injuries he had received, he was entrusted to the care of Siyyid Husayn's attendants, who, as they forced their passage among the crowd, succeeded eventually in conducting him to the home of their master.

[1 Refer to Glossary.]

Mulla Yusuf-i-Ardibili, likewise, was subjected in those days to a persecution fiercer and more determined than the savage onslaught which the people of Yazd had directed against Mulla Sadiq. But for the intervention of Mirza Ahmad and the assistance of his uncle, he would have fallen a victim to the wrath of a ferocious enemy.

When Mulla Sadiq and Mulla Yusuf-i-Ardibili arrived at Kirman, they again had to submit to similar indignities and to suffer similar afflictions at the hands of Haji Mirza Karim Khan and his associates.[1] Haji Siyyid Javad's persistent exertions freed them eventually from the grasp of their persecutors, and enabled them to proceed to Khurasan.

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

Though hunted and harassed by their foes, the Bab's immediate disciples, together with their companions in different parts of Persia, were undeterred by such criminal acts <p188> 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 Vahid [1] was still in Shiraz, Haji Siyyid Javad-i-Karbila'i [2] arrived and was introduced by Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali into the presence of the Bab. In a Tablet which He addressed to Vahid and Haji Siyyid Javad, the Bab extolled the firmness of their faith and stressed the unalterable character of their devotion. The latter had met and known the Bab before the declaration of His Mission, and had been a fervent admirer of those extraordinary traits of character which had distinguished Him ever since His childhood. At a later time, he met Baha'u'llah in Baghdad and became the recipient of His special favour. When, a few years afterwards, Baha'u'llah was exiled to Adrianople, he, already much advanced in years, returned to Persia, tarried awhile in the province of Iraq, and thence proceeded to Khurasan. His kindly disposition, extreme forbearance, and unaffected simplicity earned him the appellation of the Siyyid-i-Nur.[3]

[1 Title given by the Bab to Siyyid Yahyay-i-Darabi.]

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

[3 Literally meaning "radiant siyyid."]

Haji Siyyid Javad, one day, while crossing a street in Tihran, suddenly saw the Shah as he was passing on horseback. Undisturbed by the presence of his sovereign, he calmly approached and greeted him. His venerable figure and dignity of bearing pleased the Shah immensely. He acknowledged his salute and invited him to come and see him. Such was the reception accorded him that the courtiers of the Shah were moved with envy. "Does not your Imperial Majesty realise," they protested, "that this Haji <p189> Siyyid Javad is none other than the man who, even prior to the declaration of the Siyyid-i-Bab, had proclaimed himself a Babi, and had pledged his undying loyalty to his person?" The Shah, perceiving the malice which actuated their accusation, was sorely displeased, and rebuked them for their temerity and low-mindedness. "How strange!" he is reported to have exclaimed; "whoever is distinguished by the uprightness of his conduct and the courtesy of his manners, my people forthwith denounce him as a Babi and regard him as an object worthy of my condemnation!"

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

Shaykh Sultan-i-Karbila'i, whose ancestors ranked among the leading ulamas of Karbila, and who himself had been a firm supporter and intimate companion of Siyyid Kazim, was also among those who, in those days, had met the Bab in Shiraz. It was he who, at a later time, proceeded to Sulaymaniyyih in search of Baha'u'llah, and whose daughter was subsequently given in marriage to Aqay-i-Kalim. When he arrived at Shiraz, he was accompanied by Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, to whom we have referred in the early pages of this narrative. To him the Bab assigned the task of transcribing, in collaboration with Mulla Abdu'l-Karim, the Tablets which He had lately revealed. Shaykh Sultan, who had been too ill, at the time of his arrival, to meet the Bab, received one night, while still on his sick-bed, a message from his <p190> Beloved, informing him that at about two hours after sunset He would Himself visit him. That night the Ethiopian servant, who was acting as lantern-bearer to his Master, was instructed to walk in advance at a distance which would keep away the attention of the people from Him, and to extinguish the lantern as soon as he reached his destination.

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

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

The second Naw-Ruz after the declaration of the Bab's Mission, which fell on the twenty-first day of the month of Rabi'u'l-Avval, in the year 1262 A.H.,[1] found the Bab still in Shiraz enjoying, under circumstances of comparative tranquillity and ease, the blessings of undisturbed association <p191> with His family and kindred. Quietly and unceremoniously, He celebrated the festival of Naw-Ruz in His own home, and, in accordance with His invariable custom, bountifully conferred upon both His mother and His wife the marks of His affection and favour. By the wisdom of His counsels and the tenderness of His love, He cheered their hearts and dispelled their apprehensions. He bequeathed to them all His possessions and transferred to their names the title to His property. In a document which He Himself wrote and signed, He directed that His house and its furniture, as well as the rest of His estate, should be regarded as the exclusive property of His mother and His wife; and that upon the death of the former, her share of the property should revert to His wife.

[1 1846 A.D.]

The mother of the Bab failed at first to realise the significance of the Mission proclaimed by her Son. She remained for a time unaware of the magnitude of the forces latent in His Revelation. As she approached the end of her life, however, she was able to perceive the inestimable quality of that Treasure which she had conceived and given to the world. It was Baha'u'llah who eventually enabled her to discover the value of that hidden Treasure which had lain for so many years concealed from her eyes. She was living in Iraq, where she hoped to spend the remaining days of her life, when Baha'u'llah instructed two of His devoted followers, Haji Siyyid Javad-i-Karbila'i and the wife of Haji Abdu'l-Majid-i-Shirazi, both of whom were already intimately acquainted with her, to instruct her in the principles of the Faith. She acknowledged the truth of the Cause and remained, until the closing years of the thirteenth century A.H.,[1] when she departed this life, fully aware of the bountiful gifts which the Almighty had chosen to confer upon her.

[1 The thirteenth century A.H. ended in October, 1882 A.D.]

The wife of the Bab, unlike His mother, perceived at the earliest dawn of His Revelation the glory and uniqueness of His Mission and felt from the very beginning the intensity of its force. No one except Tahirih, among the women of her generation, surpassed her in the spontaneous character of her devotion nor excelled the fervor of her faith. To her the Bab confided the secret of His future sufferings, and unfolded <p192> 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.[1]

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

After the Bab had settled the affairs of His household and provided for the future maintenance of both His mother and His wife, He transferred His residence from His own home to that of Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali. There He awaited the approaching hour of His sufferings. He knew that the afflictions which were in store for Him could no longer be delayed, that He was soon to be caught in a whirlwind of adversity which would carry Him swiftly to the field of martyrdom, the crowning object of His life. He bade those of His disciples who had settled in Shiraz, among whom were Mulla Abdu'l-Karim and Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, to proceed to Isfahan and there await His further instructions. Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi, <p193> one of the Letters of the Living, who had recently arrived at Shiraz, was likewise instructed to proceed to Isfahan and to join the company of his fellow-disciples in that city.

Meanwhile Husayn Khan, the governor of Fars, was bending every effort to involve the Bab in fresh embarrassments and to degrade Him still further in the eyes of the public. The smouldering fire of his hostility was fanned to flame by the knowledge that the Bab was allowed to pursue unmolested the course of His activities, that He was still able to associate with certain of His companions, and that He continued to enjoy the benefits of unrestrained fellowship with His family and kindred.[1] By the aid of his secret agents, he succeeded in obtaining accurate information regarding <p194> the character and influence of the Movement which the Bab had initiated. He had secretly watched His movements, ascertained the degree of enthusiasm which He had aroused, and scrutinised the motives, the conduct, and the number of those who had embraced His Cause.

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

One night there came to Husayn Khan the chief of his emissaries with the report that the number of those who were crowding to see the Bab had assumed such proportions as to necessitate immediate action on the part of those whose function it was to guard the security of the city. "The eager crowd that gathers every night to visit the Bab," he remarked, "surpasses in number the multitude of people that throngs every day before the gates of the seat of your government. Among them are to be seen men celebrated alike for their exalted rank and extensive learning.[1] Such are the tact and lavish generosity which his maternal uncle displays in his attitude towards the officials of your government that no one among your subordinates is inclined to acquaint you with the reality of the situation. If you would permit me, I will, with the aid of a number of your attendants, surprise the Bab at the hour of midnight and will deliver, handcuffed, into your hands certain of his associates who will enlighten you concerning his activities, and who will confirm the truth of my statements." Husayn Khan refused to comply with his wish. "I can tell better than <p195> you," was his answer, "what the interests of the State require. Watch me from a distance; I shall know how to deal with him."

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

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

Abdu'l-Hamid Khan retired to execute his task. He, together with his assistants, broke into the house of Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali [1] and found the Bab in the company of His maternal uncle and a certain Siyyid Kazim-i-Zanjani, who was later martyred in Mazindaran, and whose brother, Siyyid Murtada, was one of the Seven Martyrs of Tihran. He immediately arrested them, collected whatever documents he could find, ordered Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali to remain in his house, and conducted the rest to the seat of government. The Bab, undaunted and self-possessed, was heard to repeat this verse of the Qur'an: "That with which they are threatened is for the morning. Is not the morning near?" No sooner had the chief constable reached the marketplace than he discovered, to his amazement, that the people of the city were fleeing from every side in consternation, as if overtaken by an appalling calamity. He was struck <p196> 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 [2] 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."[3]

[1 September 23,1845 A.D. See "Tarikh-i-Jadid," p. 204.]

[2 Outbreak of cholera.]

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

Abdu'l-Hamid Khan, terrified by this dreadful intelligence, ran to the home of Husayn Khan. An old man who guarded his house and was acting as door-keeper informed him that the house of his master was deserted, that the ravages of the pestilence had devastated his home and afflicted the members of his household. "Two of his Ethiopian maids," he was told, "and a man-servant have already fallen victims to this scourge, and members of his own family are now dangerously ill. In his despair, my master has abandoned his home and, leaving the dead unburied, has fled with the rest of his family to the Bagh-i-Takht."[1]

[1 A garden in the outskirts of Shiraz.]

Abdu'l-Hamid Khan decided to conduct the Bab to his own home and keep Him in his custody pending instructions from the governor. As he was approaching his house, he was struck by the sound of weeping and wailing of the members of his household. His son had been attacked by the plague and was hovering on the brink of death. In his despair, he threw himself at the feet of the Bab and tearfully implored Him to save the life of his son. He begged Him to forgive his past transgressions and misdeeds. "I adjure you," he entreated the Bab as he clung to the hem of His garment, "by Him who has elevated you to this exalted <p197> position, to intercede in my behalf and to offer a prayer for the recovery of my son. Suffer not that he, in the prime of youth, be taken away from me. Punish him not for the guilt which his father has committed. I repent of what I have done, and at this moment resign my post. I solemnly pledge my word that never again will I accept such a position even though I perish of hunger."

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

No sooner had Abdu'l-Hamid Khan witnessed the signs of the recovery of his son than he wrote a letter to the governor in which he acquainted him with the whole situation and begged him to cease his attacks on the Bab. "Have pity on yourself," he wrote him, "as well as on those whom Providence has committed to your care. Should the fury of this plague continue its fatal course, no one in this city, I fear, will by the end of this day have survived the horror of its attack." Husayn Khan replied that the Bab should be immediately released and given freedom to go wherever He might please.[1]

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

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

The Bab, who was staying at the home of Abdu'l-Hamid Khan, sent Siyyid Kazim to request Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali to <p198> come and see Him. He informed His uncle of His intended departure from Shiraz, entrusted both His mother and His wife to his care, and charged him to convey to each the expression of His affection and the assurance of God's unfailing assistance. "Wherever they may be," He told His uncle, as He bade him farewell, "God's all-encompassing love and protection will surround them. I will again meet you amid the mountains of Adhirbayjan, from whence I will send you forth to obtain the crown of martyrdom. I Myself will follow you, together with one of My loyal disciples, and will join you in the realm of eternity." <p199>




THE summer of the year 1262 A.H.[1] was drawing to a close when the Bab bade His last farewell to His native city of Shiraz, and proceeded to Isfahan. Siyyid Kazim-i-Zanjani accompanied Him on that journey. As He approached the outskirts of the city, He wrote a letter to the governor of the province, Manuchihr Khan, the Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih,[2] in which He requested him to signify his wish as to the place where He could dwell. The letter, which He entrusted to Siyyid Kazim, was expressive of such courtesy and revealed such exquisite penmanship that the Mu'tamid was moved to instruct the Sultanu'l-'Ulama, the Imam-Jum'ih of Isfahan,'[3] the foremost ecclesiastical authority of that province, to receive the Bab in his own home and to accord Him a kindly and generous <p200> reception. In addition to his message, the governor sent the Imam-Jum'ih the letter he had received from the Bab. The Sultanu'l-'Ulama accordingly bade his own brother, whose savage cruelty in later years earned him the appellation of <p201> Raqsha'[3] from Baha'u'llah, to proceed with a number of his favourite companions to meet and escort the expected Visitor to the gate of the city. As the Bab approached, the Imam-Jum'ih went out to welcome Him in person, and conducted Him ceremoniously to his house.

[1 1846 A.D.]

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

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

[3 Meaning female serpent.]

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

One night, after supper, the Imam-Jum'ih, whose curiosity had been excited by the extraordinary traits of character which his youthful Guest had revealed, ventured to request Him to reveal a commentary on the Surih of Va'l-'Asr.[1] His request was readily granted. Calling for pen and paper, the Bab, with astonishing rapidity and without the least premeditation, began to reveal, in the presence of His host, a most illuminating interpretation of the aforementioned Surih. It was nearing midnight when the Bab found Himself engaged in the exposition of the manifold implications involved in the first letter of that Surih. That letter, the letter 'vav' upon which Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i had already laid such emphasis in his writings, symbolised for the Bab the advent of a new cycle of Divine Revelation, and has since been alluded to by Baha'u'llah in the "Kitab-i-Aqdas" in such passages as "the mastery of the Great Reversal" and "the Sign of the Sovereign." The Bab soon after began to chant, in the presence of His host and his companions, the homily with which He had prefaced His commentary on the Surih. Those words of power confounded His hearers with wonder. <p202> They seemed as if bewitched by the magic of His voice. Instinctively they started to their feet and, together with the Imam-Jum'ih, reverently kissed the hem of His garment. Mulla Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Harati, an eminent mujtahid, broke out into a sudden expression of exultation and praise. "Peerless and unique," he exclaimed, "as are the words which have streamed from this pen, to be able to reveal, within so short a time and in so legible a writing, so great a number of verses as to equal a fourth, nay a third, of the Qur'an, is in itself an achievement such as no mortal, without the intervention of God, could hope to perform. Neither the cleaving of the moon nor the quickening of the pebbles of the sea can compare with so mighty an act."

[1 Qur'an, 103.]

As the Bab's fame was being gradually diffused over the entire city of Isfahan, an unceasing stream of visitors flowed from every quarter to the house of the Imam-Jum'ih: a few to satisfy their curiosity, others to obtain a deeper understanding of the fundamental verities of His Faith, and still others to seek the remedy for their ills and sufferings. The Mu'tamid himself came one day to visit the Bab and, while seated in the midst of an assemblage of the most brilliant and accomplished divines of Isfahan, requested Him to expound the nature and demonstrate the validity of the Nubuvvat-i-Khassih.[1] He had previously, in that same gathering, called upon those who were present to adduce such proofs and evidences in support of this fundamental article of their Faith as would constitute an unanswerable testimony for those who were inclined to repudiate its truth. No one, however, seemed capable of responding to his invitation. "Which do you prefer," asked the Bab, "a verbal or a written answer to your question?" "A written reply," he answered, "not only would please those who are present at this meeting, but would edify and instruct both the present and future generations."

[1 Muhammad's "Specific Mission."]

The Bab instantly took up His pen and began to write. In less than two hours, He had filled about fifty pages with a most refreshing and circumstantial enquiry into the origin, the character, and the pervasive influence of Islam. The originality of His dissertation, the vigour and vividness of <p203> 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 Qa'im and the expected "Return" of the Imam Husayn.[1] He argued with such force <p204> and courage that those who heard Him recite its verses were astounded by the magnitude of His revelation. No one dared to insinuate the slightest objection--much less, openly to challenge His statements. The Mu'tamid could not help giving vent to his enthusiasm and joy. "Hear me!" he exclaimed. "Members of this revered assembly, I take you as my witnesses. Never until this day have I in my heart been firmly convinced of the truth of Islam. I can henceforth, thanks to this exposition penned by this Youth, declare myself a firm believer in the Faith proclaimed by the Apostle of God. I solemnly testify to my belief in the reality of the superhuman power with which this Youth is endowed, a power which no amount of learning can ever impart." With these words he brought the meeting to an end.

[1 Reference to His own Mission and to Baha'u'llah's subsequent Revelation.]

The growing popularity of the Bab aroused the resentment of the ecclesiastical authorities of Isfahan, who viewed with concern and envy the ascendancy which an unlearned Youth was slowly acquiring over the thoughts and consciences of their followers. They firmly believed that unless they rose to stem the tide of popular enthusiasm, the very foundations of their existence would be undermined. A few of the more sagacious among them thought it wise to abstain from acts of direct hostility to either the person or the teachings of the Bab, as such action, they felt, would serve only to enhance His prestige and consolidate His position. The mischief-makers, however, were busily engaged in disseminating the wildest reports concerning the character and claims of the Bab. These reports soon reached Tihran and were brought to the attention of Haji Mirza Aqasi, the Grand Vazir of Muhammad Shah. This haughty and overbearing minister viewed with apprehension the possibility that his sovereign might one day feel inclined to befriend the Bab, an inclination which he felt sure would precipitate his own downfall. The Haji was, moreover, apprehensive lest the Mu'tamid, who enjoyed the confidence of the Shah, should succeed in arranging an interview between the sovereign and the Bab. He was well aware that should such an interview take place, the impressionable and tender-hearted Muhammad Shah would be completely won over by the attractiveness and novelty of that creed. Spurred on by <p205> such reflections, he addressed a strongly worded communication to the Imam-Jum'ih, in which he upbraided him for his grave neglect of the obligation imposed upon him to safeguard the interests of Islam. "We have expected you," Haji Mirza Aqasi wrote him, "to resist with all your power every cause which conflicts with the best interests of the government and people of this land. You seem instead to have befriended, nay to have glorified, the author of this obscure and contemptible movement." He likewise wrote a number of encouraging letters to the ulamas of Isfahan, whom he had previously ignored but upon whom he now lavished his special favours. The Imam-Jum'ih, while refusing to alter his respectful attitude towards his Guest, was induced by the tone of the message he had received from the Grand Vazir, to instruct his associates to devise such means as would tend to lessen the ever-increasing number of visitors who thronged each day to the presence of the Bab. Muhammad-Mihdi, surnamed the Safihu'l-'Ulama', son of the late Haji Kalbasi, in his desire to gratify the wish and to earn the esteem of Haji Mirza Aqasi, began to calumniate the Bab from the pulpit in the most unseemly language.

As soon as the Mu'tamid was informed of these developments, he sent a message to the Imam-Jum'ih in which he reminded him of the visit he as governor had paid to the Bab, and extended to him as well as to his Guest an invitation to his home. The Mu'tamid invited Haji Siyyid Asadu'llah, son of the late Haji Siyyid Muhammad Baqir-i-Rashti, Haji Muhammad-Ja'far-i-Abadiyi, Muhammad-Mihdi, Mirza Hasan-i-Nuri, and a few others to be present at that meeting. Haji Siyyid Asadu'llah refused the invitation and endeavoured to dissuade those who had been invited, from participating in that gathering. "I have sought to excuse myself," he informed them, "and I would most certainly urge you to do the same. I regard it as most unwise of you to meet the Siyyid-i-Bab face to face. He will, no doubt, reassert his claim and will, in support of his argument, adduce whatever proof you may desire him to give, and, without the least hesitation, will reveal as a testimony to the truth he bears, verses of such a number as would equal half the Qur'an. In the end he will challenge you in these words: 'Produce likewise, <p206> 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 <p207> ourselves to acknowledge any further claims that he may feel inclined to make in the future."

Haji Muhammad-Ja'far heeded this counsel and refused to accept the invitation of the governor. Muhammad Mihdi, Mirza Hasan-i-Nuri, and a few others who disdained such advice, presented themselves at the appointed hour at the home of the Mu'tamid. At the invitation of the host, Mirza Hasan, a noted Platonist, requested the Bab to elucidate certain abstruse philosophical doctrines connected with the Arshiyyih of Mulla Sadra,[1] the meaning of which only a few had been able to unravel.[2] In simple and unconventional language, the Bab replied to each of his questions. Mirza Hasan, though unable to apprehend the meaning of the answers which he had received, realised how inferior was the learning of the so-called exponents of the Platonic and the Aristotelian schools of thought of his day to the knowledge displayed by that Youth. Muhammad Mihdi ventured in his turn to question the Bab regarding certain aspects of the Islamic law. Dissatisfied with the explanation he received, he began to contend idly with the Bab. He was soon silenced by the Mu'tamid, who, cutting short his conversation, turned to an attendant and, bidding him light the lantern, gave the order that Muhammad Mihdi be immediately conducted to his home. The Mu'tamid subsequently <p208> confided his apprehensions to the Imam-Jum'ih. "I fear the machinations of the enemies of the Siyyid-i-Bab," he told him. "The Shah has summoned Him to Tihran. I am commanded to arrange for His departure. I deem it more advisable for Him to stay in my home until such time as He can leave this city." The Imam-Jum'ih acceded to his request and returned alone to his house.

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

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

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

Ere the Bab had transferred His residence to the house of the Mu'tamid, Mirza Ibrahim, father of the Sultanu'sh-Shuhada' and elder brother of Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Nahri, to whom we have already referred, invited the Bab to his home one night. Mirza Ibrahim was a friend of the Imam-Jum'ih, was intimately associated with him, and controlled the management of all his affairs. The banquet which was spread for the Bab that night was one of unsurpassed magnificence. It was commonly observed that neither the officials nor the notables of the city had offered a feast of such magnitude and splendour. The Sultanu'sh-Shuhada' and his brother, the Mahbubu'sh-Shuhada', who were lads of nine and eleven, respectively, served at that banquet and received special attention from the Bab. That night, during dinner, Mirza Ibrahim turned to his Guest and said: "My brother, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, has no child. I beg You to intercede in his behalf and to grant his heart's desire." The Bab took a portion of the food with which He had been served, placed it with His own hands on a platter, and handed it to His host, asking him to take it to Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his wife. "Let them both partake of this," He said; "their wish will be fulfilled." By virtue of that portion which the Bab had chosen to bestow upon her, the wife of Mirza <p209> Muhammad-'Ali conceived and in due time gave birth to a girl, who eventually was joined in wedlock with the Most Great Branch,[1] a union that came to be regarded as the consummation of the hopes entertained by her parents.

[1 Reference to Munirih Khanum's marriage with Abdu'l-Baha.]

The high honours accorded to the Bab served further to inflame the hostility of the ulamas of Isfahan. With feelings of dismay, they beheld on every side evidences of His all-pervasive influence invading the stronghold of orthodoxy and subverting their foundations. They summoned a gathering, at which they issued a written document, signed and sealed by all the ecclesiastical leaders of the city, condemning the Bab to death.[1] They all concurred in this condemnation with the exception of Haji Siyyid Asadu'llah and Haji Muhammad-Ja'far-i-Abadiyi, both of whom refused to associate themselves with the contents of so glaringly abusive a document. The Imam-Jum'ih, though declining to endorse the death-warrant of the Bab, was induced, by reason of his extreme cowardice and ambition, to add to that document, in his own handwriting, the following testimony: "I testify that in the course of my association with this youth I have been unable to discover any act that would in any way betray his repudiation of the doctrines of Islam. On the contrary, I have known him as a pious and loyal observer of its precepts. The extravagance of his claims, however, and his disdainful contempt for the things of the world, incline me to believe that he is devoid of reason and judgment."

[1 According to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, about seventy eminent ulamas and notables

had set their seal to a document which condemned the Bab as a heretic, and

which declared Him to be deserving of the penalty of death.]

No sooner had the Mu'tamid been informed of the condemnation pronounced by the ulamas of Isfahan than he determined, by a plan which he himself conceived, to nullify the effects of that cruel verdict. He issued immediate instructions that towards the hour of sunset the Bab, escorted by five hundred horsemen of the governor's own mounted body-guard, should leave the gate of the city and proceed in the direction of Tihran. Imperative orders had been given that at the completion of each farsang [1] one hundred of this mounted escort should return directly to Isfahan. <p210> To the chief of the last remaining contingent, a man in whom he placed implicit confidence, the Mu'tamid confidentially intimated his desire that at every maydan [2] twenty of the [2] Maydan: A subdivision of a farsakh. A square or open place. <p211> remaining hundred should likewise be ordered by him to return to the city. Of the twenty remaining horsemen, the Mu'tamid directed that ten should be despatched to Ardistan for the purpose of collecting the taxes levied by the government, and that the rest, all of whom should be of his tried and most reliable men, should, by an unfrequented route, bring the Bab back in disguise to Isfahan. [2] They were, moreover, instructed so to regulate their march that before dawn of the ensuing day the Bab should have arrived at Isfahan and should have been delivered into his custody. This plan was immediately taken in hand and duly executed. At an unsuspected hour the Bab re-entered the city, was directly conducted to the private residence of the Mu'tamid, known by the name of Imarat-i-Khurshid, [3] and was introduced, through a side entrance reserved for the Mu'tamid himself, into his private apartments. The governor waited in person on the Bab, served His meals, and provided whatever was required for His comfort and safety.[4]

[1 Refer to Glossary.]

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

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

[4 According to "A Traveller's Narrative," p. 13, the Bab remained four months in that house.] <p212>

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

One day, while seated with the Bab in his private garden within the courtyard of his house, the Mu'tamid, taking his Guest into his confidence, addressed Him in these words: "The almighty Giver has endowed me with great riches.[1] I know not how best to use them. Now that I have, by the aid of God, been led to recognize this Revelation, it is my ardent desire to consecrate all my possessions to the furtherance of its interests and the spread of its fame. It is my intention to proceed, by Your leave, to Tihran, and to do my best to win to this Cause Muhammad Shah, whose confidence in me is firm and unshaken. I am certain that he will eagerly embrace it, and will arise to promote it far and wide. I will also endeavour to induce the Shah to dismiss the profligate Haji Mirza Aqasi, the folly of whose administration has well-nigh brought this land to the verge of ruin. Next, I will strive to obtain for You the hand of one of the <p213> sisters of the Shah, and will myself undertake the preparation of Your nuptials. Finally, I hope to be enabled to incline the hearts of the rulers and kings of the earth to this most wondrous Cause and to extirpate every lingering trace of that corrupt ecclesiastical hierarchy that has stained the fair name of Islam." "May God requite you for your noble intentions," the Bab replied. "So lofty a purpose is to Me even more precious than the act itself. Your days and Mine are numbered, however; they are too short to enable Me to witness, and allow you to achieve, the realisation of your hopes. Not by the means which you fondly imagine will an almighty Providence accomplish the triumph of His Faith. Through the poor and lowly of this land, by the blood which these shall have shed in His path, will the omnipotent Sovereign ensure the preservation and consolidate the foundation of His Cause. That same God will, in the world to come, place upon your head the crown of immortal glory, and will shower upon you His inestimable blessings. Of the span of your earthly life there remain only three months and nine days, after which you shall, with faith and certitude, hasten to your eternal abode." The Mu'tamid greatly rejoiced at these words. Resigned to the will of God, he prepared himself for the departure which the words of the Bab had so clearly foreshadowed. He wrote his testament, settled his private affairs, and bequeathed whatever he possessed to the Bab. Immediately after his death, however, his nephew, the rapacious Gurgin Khan, discovered and destroyed his will, seized his property, and contemptuously ignored his wishes.

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

As the days of his earthly life were drawing to a close, the Mu'tamid increasingly sought the presence of the Bab, and, in his hours of intimate fellowship with Him, obtained a deeper realisation of the spirit which animated His Faith. "As the hour of my departure approaches," he one day told the Bab, "I feel an undefinable joy pervading my soul. But I am apprehensive for You, I tremble at the thought of being compelled to leave You to the mercy of so ruthless a successor as Gurgin Khan. He will, no doubt, discover Your presence in this home, and will, I fear, grievously ill-treat You." "Fear not," remonstrated the Bab; "I have <p214> 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.'"[1] As those precious hours flew by, a sense of overpowering devotion, of increased consciousness of nearness to God, filled the heart of the Mu'tamid. In his eyes the world's pomp and pageantry melted away into insignificance when brought face to face with the eternal realities enshrined in the Revelation of the Bab. His vision of its glories, its infinite potentialities, its incalculable blessings grew in vividness as he increasingly realised the vanity of earthly ambition and the limitations of human endeavour. He continued to ponder these thoughts in his heart, until the time when a slight attack of fever, which lasted but one night, suddenly terminated his life. Serene and confident, he winged his flight to the Great Beyond.[2]

[1 Qur'an, 8:42.]

[2 He died, according to E. G. Browne ("A Traveller's Narrative,' Note L, p. 227), in the month of Rabi'u'l-Avval of the year 1263 A.H. (Feb.-March, 1847 A.D.).]

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

A few days after the death of the Mu'tamid, a certain person who was aware of the design which he had conceived and carried out for the protection of the Bab, informed his successor, Gurgin Khan, [1] of the actual residence of the Bab in the Imarat-i-Khurshid, and described to him the honours which his predecessor had lavished upon his Guest in the privacy of his own home. On the receipt of this unexpected intelligence, Gurgin Khan despatched his messenger to Tihran and instructed him to deliver in person the following <p215> message to Muhammad Shah: "Four months ago it was generally believed in Isfahan that, in pursuance of your Majesty's imperial summons, the Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih, my predecessor, had sent the Siyyid-i-Bab to the seat of your Majesty's government. It has now been disclosed that this same siyyid is actually occupying the Imarat-i-Khurshid, the private residence of the Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih. It has been ascertained that my predecessor himself extended the hospitality of his home to the Siyyid-i-Bab and sedulously guarded that secret from both the people and the officials of this city. Whatever it pleases your Majesty to decree, I unhesitatingly pledge myself to perform."

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

The Shah, who was firmly convinced of the loyalty of the Mu'tamid, realised, when he received this message, that the late governor's sincere intention had been to await a favourable occasion when he could arrange a meeting between him and the Bab, and that his sudden death had interfered with the execution of that plan. He issued an imperial mandate summoning the Bab to the capital. In his written message to Gurgin Khan, the Shah commanded him to send the Bab in disguise, in the company of a mounted escort [1] headed by Muhammad Big-i-Chaparchi,[2] of the sect of the Aliyu'llahi, to Tihran; to exercise the utmost consideration towards Him in the course of His journey, and strictly to maintain the secrecy of His departure.[3]

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

[2 Chaparchi means "courier."]

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

Gurgin Khan went immediately to the Bab and delivered into His hands the written mandate of the sovereign. He then summoned Muhammad Big, conveyed to him the behests of Muhammad Shah, and ordered him to undertake immediate preparations for the journey. "Beware," he warned him, "lest anyone discover his identity or suspect the nature of your mission. No one but you, not even the members of his escort, should be allowed to recognize him. Should anyone question you concerning him, say that he is <p216> a merchant whom we have been instructed to conduct to the capital and of whose identity we are completely ignorant." Soon after midnight, the Bab, in accordance with those instructions, set out from the city and proceeded in the direction of Tihran. <p217>




ON THE eve of the Bab's arrival at Kashan, Haji Mirza Jani, surnamed Parpa, a noted resident of that city, dreamed that he was standing at a late hour in the afternoon at the gate of Attar, one of the gates of the city, when his eyes suddenly beheld the Bab on horseback wearing, instead of His customary turban, the kulah [1] usually worn by the merchants of Persia. Before Him, as well as behind Him, marched a number of horsemen into whose custody He seemed to have been delivered. As they approached the gate, the Bab saluted him and said: "Haji Mirza Jani, We are to be your Guest for three nights. Prepare yourself to receive Us."

[1 See Glossary.]

When he awoke, the vividness of his dream convinced him of the reality of his vision. This unexpected apparition constituted in his eyes a providential warning which he felt it his duty to heed and observe. He accordingly set out to prepare his house for the reception of the Visitor, and to provide whatever seemed necessary for His comfort. As soon as he had completed the preliminary arrangements for the banquet which he had decided to offer the Bab that night, Haji Mirza Jani proceeded to the gate of Attar, and there waited for the signs of the Bab's expected arrival. At the appointed hour, as he was scanning the horizon, he descried in the distance what seemed to him a company of horsemen <p218> approaching the gate of the city. As he hastened to meet them, his eyes recognized the Bab surrounded by His escort dressed in the same clothes and wearing the same expression as he had seen the night before in his dream. Haji Mirza Jani joyously approached Him and bent to kiss His stirrups. The Bab prevented him, saying: "We are to be your Guest for three nights. To-morrow is the day of Naw-Ruz; we shall celebrate it together in your home." Muhammad Big, who had been riding close to the Bab, thought Him to be an intimate acquaintance of Haji Mirza Jani. Turning to him, he said: "I am ready to abide by whatever is the desire of the Siyyid-i-Bab. I would ask you, however, to obtain the approval of my colleague who shares with me the charge of conducting the Siyyid-i-Bab to Tihran." Haji Mirza Jani submitted his request and was met with a flat refusal. "I decline your suggestion," he was told. "I have been most emphatically instructed not to allow this youth to enter any city until his arrival at the capital. I have been particularly commanded to spend the night outside the gate of the city, <p219> to break my march at the hour of sunset, and to resume it the next day at the hour of dawn. I cannot depart from the orders that have been given to me." This gave rise to a heated altercation which was eventually settled in favour of Muhammad Big, who succeeded in inducing his opponent to deliver the Bab into the custody of Haji Mirza Jani with the express understanding that on the third morning he should safely deliver back his Guest into their hands. Haji Mirza Jani, who had intended to invite to his home the entire escort of the Bab, was advised by Him to abandon this intention. "No one but you," He urged, "should accompany Me to your home." Haji Mirza Jani requested to be allowed to defray the expense of the horsemen's three days' stay in Kashan. "It is unnecessary," observed the Bab; "but for My will, nothing whatever could have induced them to deliver Me into your hands. All things lie prisoned within the grasp of His might. Nothing is impossible to Him. He removes every difficulty and surmounts every obstacle." The horsemen were lodged in a caravanserai in the immediate neighbourhood of the gate of the city. Muhammad Big, following the instructions of the Bab, accompanied Him until they drew near the house of Haji Mirza Jani. Having ascertained the actual situation of the house, he returned and joined his companions.

The night the Bab arrived at Kashan coincided with the eve preceding the third Naw-Ruz, after the declaration of His Mission, which fell on the second day of the month of Rabi'u'th-Thani, in the year 1263 A.H.[1] On that same night, Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi, who had previously, in accordance with the directions of the Bab, come to Kashan, was invited to the house of Haji Mirza Jani and introduced into the presence of his Master. The Bab was dictating to him a Tablet in honour of His host, when a friend of the latter, a certain Siyyid Abdu'l-Baqi, who was noted in Kashan for his learning, arrived. The Bab invited him to enter, permitted him to hear the verses which He was revealing, but refused to disclose His identity. In the concluding passages of the Tablet which He was addressing to Haji Mirza Jani, He prayed in his behalf, supplicated the Almighty to illumine <p220> <p221> his heart with the light of Divine knowledge, and to unloose his tongue for the service and proclamation of His Cause. Unschooled and unlettered though he was, Haji Mirza Jani was able, by virtue of this prayer, to impress with his speech even the most accomplished divine of Kashan. He became endowed with such power that he was able to silence every idle pretender who dared to challenge the precepts of his Faith. Even the haughty and imperious Mulla Ja'far-i-Naraqi was unable, despite his consummate eloquence, to resist the force of his argument, and was compelled to acknowledge outwardly the merits of the Cause of his adversary, though at heart he refused to believe in its truth.

[1 1847 A.D.]

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

Among those who were privileged to meet the Bab in the home of Haji Mirza Jani was a man named Mihdi, who was destined at a later time, in the year 1268 A.H.,[1] to suffer martyrdom in Tihran. He and a few others were, during those three days, affectionately entertained by Haji Mirza Jani, whose lavish hospitality earned him the praise and commendation of his Master. To even the members of the Bab's escort he extended the same loving-kindness, and, by <p222> his liberality and charm of manner, won their lasting gratitude. On the morning of the second day after Naw-Ruz, he, mindful of his pledge, delivered the Prisoner into their hands, and, with a heart overflowing with grief, bade Him a last and touching farewell. <p223>

[1 1851-2 A.D.]




ATTENDED by His escort, the Bab proceeded in the direction of Qum.[1] His alluring charm, combined with a compelling dignity and unfailing benevolence, had, by this time, completely disarmed and transformed His guards. They seemed to have abdicated all their rights and duties and to have resigned themselves to His will and pleasure. In their eagerness to <p224> serve and please Him, they, one day, remarked: "We are strictly forbidden by the government to allow You to enter the city of Qum, and have been ordered to proceed by an unfrequented route directly to Tihran. We have been particularly directed to keep away from the Haram-i-Ma'sumih,[2] that inviolable sanctuary under whose shelter the most notorious criminals are immune from arrest. We are ready, however, to ignore utterly for Your sake whatever instructions we have received. If it be Your wish, we shall unhesitatingly conduct You through the streets of Qum and enable You to visit its holy shrine." "'The heart of the true believer is the throne of God,'" observed the Bab. "He who is the ark of salvation and the Almighty's impregnable stronghold is now journeying with you through this wilderness. I prefer the way of the country rather than to enter this unholy city. The immaculate one whose remains are interred within this shrine, her brother, and her illustrious ancestors no doubt bewail the plight of this wicked people. With their lips they pay homage to her; by their acts they heap dishonour upon her name. Outwardly they serve and reverence her shrine; inwardly they disgrace her dignity."

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

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

his shrine at Mashhad." Lord Curzon's "Persia and the Persian Question,"

1 vol. 2, p. 8.)]

Such lofty sentiments had instilled such confidence in the hearts of those who accompanied the Bab that had He at any time chosen to turn away suddenly and leave them, no one among His guards would have felt in the least perturbed or would have attempted to pursue Him. Proceeding by a route that skirted the northern end of the city of Qum, they halted at the village of Qumrud, which was owned by a relative of Muhammad Big, and the inhabitants of which all belonged to the sect of the Aliyu'llahi. At the invitation of the headman of the village, the Bab tarried one night in that place and was touched by the warmth and spontaneity of the reception which those simple folk had accorded Him. Ere He resumed His journey, He invoked the blessings of <p225> the Almighty in their behalf and cheered their hearts with assurances of His appreciation and love.

After a march of two days from that village, they arrived, on the afternoon of the eighth day after Naw-Ruz, at the fortress of Kinar-Gird,[1] which lies six farsangs to the south of Tihran. They were planning to reach the capital on the <p226> ensuing day, and had decided to spend the night in the neighbourhood of that fortress, when a messenger unexpectedly arrived from Tihran, bearing a written order from Haji Mirza Aqasi to Muhammad Big. That message instructed him to proceed immediately with the Bab to the village of Kulayn,[2] where Shaykh-i-Kulayni, Muhammad-ibn-i-Ya'qub, the author of the Usul-i-Kafi, who was born in that place, had been laid to rest with his father, and whose shrines are greatly <p227> honoured by the people of that neighbourhood.[3] Muhammad Big was commanded, in view of the unsuitability of the houses in that village, to pitch a special tent for the Bab and keep the escort in its neighbourhood pending the receipt of further instructions. On the morning of the ninth day after Naw-Ruz, the eleventh day of the month of Rabi'u'th-Thani, in the year 1263 A.H.,[4] in the immediate vicinity of that village, which belonged to Haji Mirza Aqasi, a tent which had served for his own use whenever he visited that place was erected for the Bab, on the slopes of a hill pleasantly situated amid wide stretches of orchards and smiling meadows. The peacefulness of that spot, the luxuriance of its vegetation, and the unceasing murmur of its streams greatly pleased the Bab. He was joined two days after by Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi, Siyyid Hasan, his brother; Mulla Abdu'l-Karim, and Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, all of whom were invited to lodge in the immediate surroundings of His tent. On the fourteenth day of the month of Rabi'u'th-Thani,[5] the twelfth day after Naw-Ruz, Mulla Mihdiy-i-Khu'i and Mulla Muhammad-Mihdiy-i-Kandi arrived from Tihran. The latter, who had been closely associated with Baha'u'llah in Tihran, had been commissioned by Him to present to the Bab a sealed letter together with certain gifts which, as soon as they were delivered into His hands, provoked in His soul sentiments of unusual delight. His face glowed with joy as He overwhelmed the bearer with marks of His gratitude and favour.

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

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

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

[4 March 29, 1847 A.D.]

[5 April 1, 1847 A.D.]

That message, received at an hour of uncertainty and suspense, imparted solace and strength to the Bab. It dispelled the gloom that had settled upon His heart, and imbued His soul with the certainty of victory. The sadness which had long lingered upon His face, and which the perils of His captivity had served to aggravate, visibly diminished. He no longer shed those tears of anguish which had streamed so profusely from His eyes ever since the days of His arrest and departure from Shiraz. The cry "Beloved, My Well-Beloved," <p228> which in His bitter grief and loneliness He was wont to utter, gave way to expressions of thanksgiving and praise, of hope and triumph. The exultation which glowed upon His face never forsook Him until the day when the news of the great disaster which befell the heroes of Shaykh Tabarsi again beclouded the radiance of His countenance and dimmed the joy of His heart.

I have heard Mulla Abdu'l-Karim recount the following incident: "My companions and I were fast asleep in the vicinity of the tent of the Bab when the trampling of horsemen suddenly awakened us. We were soon informed that the tent of the Bab was vacant and that those who had gone out in search of Him had failed to find Him. We heard Muhammad Big remonstrate with the guards. 'Why feel disturbed?' he pleaded. 'Are not His magnanimity and nobleness of soul sufficiently established in your eyes to convince you that He will never, for the sake of His own safety, consent to involve others in embarrassment? He, no doubt, must have retired, in the silence of this moonlit night, to a place where He can seek undisturbed communion with God. He will unquestionably return to His tent. He will never desert us.' In his eagerness to reassure his colleagues, Muhammad Big set out on foot along the road leading to Tihran. I, too, with my companions, followed him. Shortly after, the rest of the guards were seen, each on horseback, marching behind us. We had covered about a maydan [1] when, by the dim light of the early dawn, we discerned in the distance the lonely figure of the Bab. He was coming towards us from the direction of Tihran. 'Did you believe Me to have escaped?' were His words to Muhammad Big as He approached him. 'Far be it from me,' was the instant reply as he flung himself at the feet of the Bab, 'to entertain such thoughts.' Muhammad Big was too much awed by the serene majesty which that radiant face revealed that morning to venture any further remark. A look of confidence had settled upon His countenance, His words were invested with such transcendent power, that a feeling of profound reverence wrapped our very souls. No one dared to question Him as to the cause of so remarkable a change in His speech <p229> and demeanour. Nor did He Himself choose to allay our curiosity and wonder."

[1 See Glossary.

For a fortnight [1] the Bab tarried in that spot. The tranquillity which He enjoyed amidst those lovely surroundings was rudely disturbed by the receipt of a letter which Muhammad Shah [2] himself addressed to the Bab and which was <p230> composed in these terms:[3]1 "Much as we desire to meet you, we find ourself unable, in view of our immediate departure from our capital, to receive you befittingly in Tihran. We have signified our desire that you be conducted to Mah-Ku, and have issued the necessary instructions to Ali Khan, the warden of the castle, to treat you with respect and consideration. It is our hope and intention to summon you to this place upon our return to the seat of our government, at <p231> which time we shall definitely pronounce our judgment. We trust that we have caused you no disappointment, and that you will at no time hesitate to inform us in case any grievances befall you. We fain would hope that you will continue to pray for our well-being and for the prosperity of our realm." (Dated Rabi'u'th-Thani, 1263 A.H.)[4]

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

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

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

[4 March 19-April 17, 1847 A.D.]

Haji Mirza Aqasi [1] was no doubt responsible for having induced Muhammad Shah to address such a communication to the Bab. He was actuated solely by a sense of fear [2] lest <p232> the contemplated interview should rob him of his position of unquestioned pre-eminence in the affairs of the State and should lead eventually to his overthrow from power. He entertained no feelings of malice or resentment toward the Bab. He finally succeeded [3] 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.[4] How stupendous was his mistake, how grievous his blunder! Little did he realise, at that moment, that by his incessant intrigues he was withholding from his king and country the incomparable benefits of a Divine Revelation which alone had the power to deliver the land from the appalling state of degradation into which it had fallen. By his act that short-sighted minister did not only withhold from Muhammad Shah the supreme instrument with which he could have rehabilitated a fast-declining empire, but also deprived him of that spiritual Agency which could have enabled him to establish his undisputed ascendancy over the peoples and nations of the earth. By his folly, his extravagance and perfidious counsels, he undermined the foundations of the State, lowered its prestige, sapped the loyalty of his subjects, and plunged them into <p233> an abyss of misery.[5] 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 <p234> devotion to the Cause of Muhammad, so exalted a station that to the present day the chiefs and rulers of Islam have continued to reverence his memory and to praise his virtues; whereas Buzurg-Mihr, the ablest, the wisest and most experienced administrator among the vazirs of Nushiravan-i-'Adil, in spite of his commanding position, eventually was publicly disgraced, was thrown into a pit, and became the object of the contempt and the ridicule of the people. He bewailed his plight and wept so bitterly that he finally lost his sight. Neither the example of the former nor the fate of the latter seemed to have awakened that self-confident minister to the perils of his own position. He persisted in his thoughts until he too forfeited his rank, lost his riches,[6] and sank into abasement and shame. The numerous properties which he forcibly seized from the humble and law-abiding subjects of the Shah, the costly furnitures with which he embellished them, the vast expenditures of labour and treasure which he ordered for their improvement--all were irretrievably lost two years after he had issued his decree condemning the Bab to a cruel incarceration in the inhospitable mountains of Adhirbayjan. All his possessions were confiscated by the State. He himself was disgraced by his sovereign, was ignominiously expelled from Tihran, and fell a prey to disease and poverty. Bereft of hope and sunk in misery, he languished in Karbila until the hour of his death.[7]

[1 According to Hidayat in the "Majma'u'l-Fusaha'," the name of Haji Mirza Aqasi was Abbas-'Ali. He was the son of Mirza Muslim, one of the well-known divines of Iravan. His son, Abbas-'Ali, was a pupil, while in Karbila, of Fahkru'd-Din Abdu's-Samad-i-Hamadani. From Karbila he proceeded to Hamadan, visited Adhirbayjan, and from there undertook a pilgrimage to Mecca. Returning, in circumstances of extreme poverty, to Adhirbayjan, he succeeded in gradually improving his position, and was made the tutor of the children of Mirza Musa Khan, the brother of the late Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, the Qa'im-Maqam. Muhammad Mirza, to whom he had announced his eventual accession to the throne of Persia, was greatly devoted to him. He eventually was appointed his prime minister, and retired after the death of the monarch to Karbila, where he died in Ramadan, 1265 A.H. (Notes of Mirza Abu'l-Fadl.) According to Haji Mu'inu's-Saltanih's narrative (p. 220), Haji Mirza Aqasi was born in Mah-Ku, where his parents had been residing after their departure from Iravan, in the Caucasus. "Haji Mirza Aqasi, native of Iravan, attained unlimited influence over his weak-minded master, formerly his tutor, and professed Sufi doctrine. A quizzical old gentleman, with a long nose, whose countenance betokened the oddity and self-sufficiency of his character." (C. R. Markham's "A General Sketch of the History of Persia" p. 473.) "As for the Haji, he was a very special kind of god. It was not absolutely certain that he did himself believe that of which the Shah was convinced. In any case, he preferred the same general principles as the King and he had taught them to him in good faith. He could nevertheless be a buffoon; jesting was the policy, the rule of his conduct and of his life. He pretended to take nothing seriously, not even himself. "'I am not a prime minister,' he often said, especially to those whom he mistreated; 'I am an old Mulla of humble birth and without merit and, if I find myself in this high office, it is because it is the wish of the King.' "He never referred to his sons without calling them 'sons of hussies and sons of dogs.' It is in these terms that he enquired of them or sent them orders by his officers, when they were away. His greatest delight was to pass in review units of cavalry in which he would assemble, in their most gorgeous trappings, all the nomad Khans of Persia. When these warlike tribes were gathered in the valley, the Haji would appear, dressed like a beggar, with a threadbare and shapeless cap, a sword dangling awkwardly at his side and riding a small donkey. Then he would draw up the horsemen about him, call them fools, make fun of their attire, show their worthlessness, and then send them home with presents; for his sarcasm was always tempered with generosity." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 132-133.)]

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

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

[4 "Nevertheless, on this occasion, his expectations did not materialize. Fearing that the presence of the Bab in Tihran would occasion new disturbances (there were plenty of them due to his whims and his poor administration), he altered his plans and the escort, charged to take the Bab from Isfahan to Tihran, received, when about thirty kilometers from

the city, the order to take the prisoner directly to Mah-Ku. This town, in the mind of the prime minister, would offer nothing to the impostor because its inhabitants, out of gratitude for the favors and protection they had received from him, would take steps to suppress any disturbances which might break out." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 356.)]

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

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

[7 Gobineau writes regarding his fall: "Haji Mirza Aqasi, robbed of the power which he had constantly ridiculed, had retired to Karbila and he spent his remaining days playing tricks on the Mullas and scoffing even at the holy martyrs." ("Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 160.) "This shrewd man had gained such power over the late Shah that one could truly say that the minister was the real sovereign; he could not therefore survive the loss of his good fortune. At the death of Muhammad Shah, he had disappeared and had gone to Karbila where, under the protection of the sainted Imam, even a state criminal could find an inviolable asylum. He was soon overcome by gnawing grief which, more than his remorse; shortened his life." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, pp. 367-368.)] <p235>

The Bab was accordingly ordered to proceed to Tabriz.[1] The same escort, under the command of Muhammad Big, attended Him on His journey to the northwestern province of Adhirbayjan. He was allowed to select one companion and one attendant from among His followers to be with Him during His sojourn in that province. He selected Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi and Siyyid Hasan, his brother. He refused to expend on Himself the funds provided by the government for the expense of that journey. All the allowances that were given by the State He bestowed upon the poor and needy, and devoted to His own private needs the money which He, as a merchant, had earned in Bushihr and Shiraz. As orders had been given to avoid entering the towns in the course of the journey to Tabriz, a number of the believers of Qazvin, informed of the approach of their beloved Leader, set out for the village of Siyah-Dihan [2] and were there able to meet Him.

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

[2 According to Samandar (manuscript, pp. 45), the Bab tarried in the village

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

One of them was Mulla Iskandar, who had been delegated by Hujjat to visit the Bab in Shiraz, and to investigate His Cause. The Bab commissioned him to deliver the following message to Sulayman Khan-i-Afshar, who was a great admirer of the late Siyyid Kazim: "He whose virtues the late siyyid unceasingly extolled, and to the approach of whose Revelation he continually alluded, is now revealed. I am that promised One. Arise and deliver Me from the hand of the oppressor." When the Bab entrusted this message to Mulla Iskandar, Sulayman Khan was in Zanjan and was preparing to leave for Tihran. Within the space of three days, that message reached him. He failed, however, to respond to that appeal. <p236>

Two days later, a friend of Mulla Iskandar had acquainted Hujjat, who, at the instigation of the ulamas of Zanjan, had been incarcerated in the capital, with the appeal of the Bab. Hujjat immediately instructed the believers of his native city to undertake whatever preparations were required and to collect the necessary forces to achieve the deliverance of their Master. He urged them to proceed with caution and to attempt, at an appropriate moment, to seize and carry Him away to whatever place He might desire. These were shortly joined by a number of believers from Qazvin and Tihran, who set out, according to the directions of Hujjat, to execute the plan. They overtook the guards at the hour of midnight and, finding them fast asleep, approached the Bab and begged Him to flee. "The mountains of Adhirbayjan too have their claims," was His confident reply as He lovingly advised them to abandon their project and return to their homes.[1]

[1 In the "Tarikh-i-Jadid," Muhammad Big is reported to have related the following account to Haji Mirza Jani: "So we mounted and rode on till we came to a brick caravanserai distant two parsangs from the city. Thence we proceeded to Milan, where many of the inhabitants came to see His Holiness, and were filled with wonder at the majesty and dignity of that Lord of mankind. In the morning, as we were setting out from Milan, an old woman brought a scald-headed child, whose head was so covered with scabs that it was white down to the neck, and entreated His Holiness to heal him. The guards would have forbidden her but His Holiness prevented them, and called the child to Him. Then He drew a handkerchief over its head and repeated certain words; which he had no sooner done than the child was healed. And in that place about two hundred persons believed and underwent a true and sincere conversion." (Pp. 222-21.)]

Approaching the gate of Tabriz, Muhammad Big, feeling that the hour of his separation from his Prisoner was at hand, besought His presence and with tearful eyes begged Him to overlook his shortcomings and transgressions. "The journey from Isfahan," he said, "has been long and arduous. I have failed to do my duty and to serve You as I ought. I crave Your forgiveness, and pray You to vouchsafe me Your blessings." "Be assured," the Bab replied, "I account you a member of My fold. They who embrace My Cause will eternally bless and glorify you, will extol your conduct and exalt your name."[1] The rest of the guards followed the <p237> example of their chief, implored the blessings of their Prisoner, kissed His feet, and with tears in their eyes bade Him a last farewell. To each the Bab expressed His appreciation of his devoted attentions and assured him of His prayers in his behalf. Reluctantly they delivered Him into the hands of the governor of Tabriz, the heir to the throne of Muhammad Shah. To those with whom they were subsequently brought in contact, these devoted attendants of the Bab and eye-witnesses of His superhuman wisdom and power, recounted with awe and admiration the tale of those wonders which they had seen and heard, and by this means helped to diffuse in their own way the knowledge of the new Revelation.

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

The news of the approaching arrival of the Bab at Tabriz bestirred the believers in that city. They all set out to meet Him, eager to extend to so beloved a Leader their welcome. The officials of the government into whose custody the Bab was to be delivered refused to allow them to draw near and to receive His blessings. One youth, however, unable to restrain himself, rushed forth barefooted, through the gate of the city, and, in his impatience to gaze upon the face of his Beloved, ran out a distance of half a farsang [1] towards Him. As he approached the horsemen who were marching in advance of the Bab, he joyously welcomed them and, seizing <p238> the hem of the garment of one among them, devoutly kissed his stirrups. "Ye are the companions of my Well-Beloved," he tearfully exclaimed. "I cherish you as the apple of my eye." His extraordinary behaviour, the intensity of his emotion, amazed them. They immediately granted him his request to attain the presence of his Master. As soon as his eyes fell upon Him, a cry of exultation broke from his lips. He fell upon his face and wept profusely. The Bab dismounted from His horse, put His arms around him, wiped away his tears, and soothed the agitation of his heart. Of all the believers of Tabriz, that youth alone succeeded in offering his homage to the Bab and in being blessed by the touch of His hand. All the others had perforce to content themselves with a distant glimpse of their Beloved, and with that view sought to satisfy their longing.

[1 See Glossary.]

When the Bab arrived at Tabriz, He was conducted to one of the chief houses in that city, which had been reserved <p239> for His confinement.[1] A detachment of the Nasiri regiment stood guard at the entrance of His house. With the exception of Siyyid Husayn and his brother, neither the public nor His followers were allowed to meet Him. This same regiment, which had been recruited from among the inhabitants of Khamsih, and upon which special honours had been conferred, was subsequently chosen to discharge the volley that caused His death. The circumstances of His arrival had stirred the people in Tabriz profoundly. A tumultuous concourse of people had gathered to witness His entry into the city.[2] Some were impelled by curiosity, others were earnestly desirous of ascertaining the veracity of the wild reports that were current about Him, and still others were moved by their faith and devotion to attain His presence and to assure Him of their loyalty. As He walked along the streets, the acclamations of the multitude resounded on every side. The great majority of the people who beheld His face greeted Him with the shout of "Allah-u-Akbar,"[3] others loudly glorified and cheered Him, a few invoked upon Him the blessings of the Almighty, others were seen to kiss reverently the dust of His footsteps. Such was the clamour which His arrival had raised that a crier was ordered to warn the populace of the danger that awaited those who ventured to seek His presence. "Whosoever shall make any attempt to approach the Siyyid-i-Bab," went forth the cry, "or seek to meet him, all his possessions shall forthwith be seized and he himself condemned to perpetual imprisonment."

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

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

[3 'God is the Most Great."]

On the day after the Bab's arrival, Haji Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Milani, a noted merchant of the city, ventured, together with Haji Ali-'Askar, to interview the Bab. They were warned by their friends and well-wishers that by such an attempt they would not only be risking the loss of their <p240> possessions but would also be endangering their lives. They refused, however, to heed such counsels. As they approached the door of the house in which the Bab was confined, they were immediately arrested. Siyyid Hasan, who at that moment was coming out from the presence of the Bab, instantly intervened. "I am commanded by the Siyyid-i-Bab," he vehemently protested, "to convey to you this message: 'Suffer these visitors to enter, inasmuch as I Myself have invited them to meet Me.'" I have heard Haji Ali-'Askar testify to the following: "This message immediately silenced the opposers. We were straightway ushered into His presence. He greeted us with these words: 'These miserable wretches who watch at the gate of My house have been destined by Me as a protection against the inrush of the multitude who throng around the house. They are powerless to prevent those whom I desire to meet from attaining My presence.' For about two hours, we tarried with Him. As He dismissed us, He entrusted me with two cornelian ringstones, instructing me to have carved on them the two verses which He had previously given to me; to have them mounted and brought to Him as soon as they were ready. He assured us that at whatever time we desired to meet Him, no one would hinder our admittance to His presence. Several times I ventured to go to Him in order to ascertain His wish regarding certain details connected with the commission with which He had entrusted me. Not once did I encounter the slightest opposition on the part of those who were guarding the entrance of His house. Not one offensive word did they utter against me, nor did they seem to expect the slightest remuneration for their indulgence.

"I recall how, in the course of my association with Mulla Husayn, I was impressed by the many evidences of his perspicacity and extraordinary power. I was privileged to accompany him on his journey from Shiraz to Mashhad, and visited with him the towns of Yazd, Tabas, Bushruyih, and Turbat. I deplored in those days the sadness of my failure to meet the Bab in Shiraz. 'Grieve not,' Mulla Husayn confidently assured me; 'the Almighty is no doubt able to compensate you in Tabriz for the loss you have sustained in Shiraz. Not once, but seven times, can He enable you <p241> to partake of the joy of His presence, in return for the one visit which you have missed.' I was amazed at the confidence with which he uttered those words. Not until the time of my visit to the Bab in Tabriz, when, despite adverse circumstances, I was, on several occasions, admitted into His presence, did I recall those words of Mulla Husayn and marvel at his remarkable foresight. How great was my surprise when, on my seventh visit to the Bab, I heard Him speak these words: 'Praise be to God, who has enabled you to complete the number of your visits and who has extended to you His loving protection.'" <p242> <p243>




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

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

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

The castle, a solid, four-towered stone edifice, occupies the summit of a mountain at the foot of which lies the town of Mah-Ku. The only road that leads from it passes into that town, ending at a gate which adjoins the seat of government and is invariably kept closed. This gate is distinct from that of the castle itself. Situated on the confines of both the Ottoman and Russian empires, this castle has been used, in view of its commanding position and strategic advantages, as a centre for reconnoitring purposes. The officer in charge of that station observed, in time of war, the movements of the enemy, surveyed the surrounding regions, and reported to his government such cases of emergency as came <p244> under his observation. The castle is bounded on the west by the river Araxes, which marks the frontier between the territory of the Shah and the Russian empire. To the south extends the territory of the Sultan of Turkey; the frontier town of Bayazid being at a distance of only four farsangs [1] from the mountain of Mah-Ku. The frontier officer, in charge of the castle, was a man named Ali Khan. The residents of the town are all Kurds and belong to the sunni sect of Islam.[2] The shi'ahs, who constitute the vast majority of the inhabitants of Persia, have always been their avowed and bitter enemies. These Kurds particularly abhor the siyyids of the shi'ah denomination, whom they regard as the spiritual leaders and chief agitators among their opponents. Ali Khan's mother being a Kurd, the son was held in great esteem and was implicitly obeyed by the people of Mah-Ku. They regarded him as a member of their own community and placed the utmost confidence in him.

[1 Refer to Glossary.]

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

Haji Mirza Aqasi had deliberately contrived to relegate the Bab to so remote, so inhospitable and dangerously situated a corner of the territory of the Shah, with the sole purpose of stemming the tide of His rising influence and of severing every tie that bound Him to the body of His disciples throughout the country. Confident that few, if any, would venture to penetrate that wild and turbulent region, occupied by so rebellious a people, he fondly imagined that this forced seclusion of his Captive from the pursuits and interests of His followers would gradually tend to stifle the Movement at its very birth and would lead to its final extinction.[1] He was soon made to realise, however, that he had gravely mistaken the nature of the Revelation of the Bab and had underrated the force of its influence. The turbulent spirits of this unruly people were soon subdued by the gentle manners of the Bab, and their hearts were softened <p245> by the ennobling influence of His love. Their pride was humbled by His unexampled modesty, and their unreasoning arrogance mellowed by the wisdom of His words. Such was the fervour which the Bab had kindled in those hearts that their first act, every morning, was to seek a place whence they could catch a glimpse of His face, where they could commune with Him and beseech His blessings upon their daily work. In cases of dispute, they would instinctively hasten to that spot and, with their gaze fixed upon His prison, would invoke His name and adjure one another to declare the truth. Ali Khan several times attempted to induce them to desist from this practice but found himself powerless to restrain their enthusiasm. He discharged his functions with the utmost severity and refused to allow any of the avowed disciples of the Bab to reside, even for one night, in the town of Mah-Ku.[2]

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

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

"For the first two weeks," Siyyid Husayn further related, "no one was permitted to visit the Bab. My brother and I alone were admitted to His presence. Siyyid Hasan would, every day, accompanied by one of the guards, descend to the town and purchase our daily necessities. Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, who had arrived at Mah-Ku, spent the nights in a masjid outside the gate of the town. He acted as an intermediary between those of the followers of the Bab who occasionally visited Mah-Ku and Siyyid Hasan, my brother, who would in turn submit the petitions of the believers to their Master and would acquaint Shaykh Hasan with His reply. <p246>

"One day the Bab charged my brother to inform Shaykh Hasan that He would Himself request Ali Khan to alter his attitude towards the believers who visited Mah-Ku and to abandon his severity. 'Tell him,' He added, 'I will to-morrow instruct the warden to conduct him to this place.' I was greatly surprised at such a message. How could the domineering and self-willed Ali Khan, I thought to myself, be induced to relax the severity of his discipline? Early the next day, the gate of the castle being still closed, we were surprised by a sudden knock at the door, knowing full well that orders had been given that no one was to be admitted before the hour of sunrise. We recognized the voice of Ali Khan, who seemed to be expostulating with the guards, one of whom presently came in and informed me that the warden of the castle insisted on being allowed admittance into the presence of the Bab. I conveyed his message and was commanded to usher him at once into His presence. As I was stepping out of the door of His antechamber, I found Ali Khan standing at the threshold in an attitude of complete submission, his face betraying an expression of unusual humility and wonder. His self-assertiveness and pride seemed to have entirely vanished. Humbly and with extreme courtesy, he returned my salute and begged me to allow him to enter the presence of the Bab. I conducted him to the room which my Master occupied. His limbs trembled as he followed me. An inner agitation which he could not conceal <p247> brooded over his face. The Bab arose from His seat and welcomed him. Bowing reverently, Ali Khan approached and flung himself at His feet. 'Deliver me,' he pleaded, 'from my perplexity. I adjure You, by the Prophet of God, Your illustrious Ancestor, to dissipate my doubts, for their weight has well-nigh crushed my heart. I was riding through the wilderness and was approaching the gate of the town, when, it being the hour of dawn, my eyes suddenly beheld You standing by the side of the river engaged in offering Your prayer. With outstretched arms and upraised eyes, You were invoking the name of God. I stood still and watched You. I was waiting for You to terminate Your devotions that I might approach and rebuke You for having ventured to leave the castle without my leave. In Your communion with God, You seemed so wrapt in worship that You were utterly forgetful of Yourself. I quietly approached You; in Your state of rapture, You remained wholly unaware of my presence. I was suddenly seized with great fear and recoiled at the thought of awakening You from Your ecstasy. I decided to leave You, to proceed to the guards and to reprove them for their negligent conduct. I soon found out, to my amazement, that both the outer and inner gates were closed. They were opened at my request, I was ushered into Your presence, and now find You, to my wonder, seated before me. I am utterly confounded. I know not whether my reason has deserted me.' The Bab answered and said: 'What you have witnessed is true and undeniable. You belittled this Revelation and have contemptuously disdained its Author. God, the All-Merciful, desiring not to afflict you with His punishment, has willed to reveal to your eyes the Truth. By His Divine interposition, He has instilled into your heart the love of His chosen One, and caused you to recognize the unconquerable power of His Faith.'"

This marvellous experience completely changed the heart of Ali Khan. Those words had calmed his agitation and subdued the fierceness of his animosity. By every means in his power, he determined to atone for his past behaviour. 'A poor man, a shaykh, he hastily informed the Bab, "is yearning to attain Your presence. He lives in a masjid outside the gate of Mah-Ku. I pray You that I myself be <p248> allowed to bring him to this place that he may meet You. By this act I hope that my evil deeds may be forgiven, that I may be enabled to wash away the stains of my cruel behaviour toward Your friends." His request was granted, whereupon he went straightway to Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi and conducted him into the presence of his Master.

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

As He lay confined within the walls of the castle, He devoted His time to the composition of the Persian Bayan, the most weighty, the most illuminating and comprehensive of all His works.[1] 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,"[2] warning them lest they allow the mysteries and allusions in the Bayan to interfere with their recognition of His Cause.[3]

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

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

[3 "It is always in the same line of thought that when imprisoned in Mah-Ku he addressed a long letter to the Shah (Muhammad Shah) which we are about to analyze here. The document begins like nearly all the literary documents of the Bab with exalted praise of Divine Unity. The Bab continues in praising, as is fitting, Muhammad, the twelve Imams, who, as we shall see in the second volume of this work, are cornerstones of the Bayan edifice. 'I affirm,' he exclaims, 'that everything which is in this world of possibilities other than they, is, in comparison, as absolute nothingness, and if one could express it at all, all that is but a shadow of a shadow. I ask God to pardon me for assigning to them such limits. In truth, the highest degree of praise which one can confer upon them is to confess in their very presence that it is impossible to praise them.... "'This is why God has created me out of a clay from which no one else has been created. And God has given me what the learned, with all their science, are unable to understand, what no one can know unless he be completely humbled before my revelation.... Know then in truth, I am a pillar of the first word; whosoever knows that first word has known God wholly, and has entered into the universal good. Whosoever has refused to know it has remained in ignorance of God and has entered into the universal evil. "'I take God as witness, the Master of the two worlds, he who here below lives as long as nature permits and remains all his life the servant of God in all the works prescribed by true religion, if he entertains in his heart any enmity towards me, even so little that God alone might be aware of it, he is useless and God will prepare for him a punishment; he will be among those destined to die. God has determined the good which is implied in obedience to me, and all the evil which follows disobedience to my commands. In truth, today I see all that I have just said; I see the children of my love, the obedient ones in the highest heaven, while my enemies are thrust into the depths of eternal fire! "'By my life, I swear, if I had not been obliged to accept the station of the Hujjat of God, I would not have warned you!'... "It is evident that the Bab re-states his affirmations made in the Kitab-i-baynu'i-Haramayn without addition or retraction. 'I am,' he says, 'the Point from which all being flows. I am that Face of God which never dies! I am that Light which is never extinguished! He who knows me is accompanied with all good, he who rejects me is pursued by evil. In truth, when Moses besought God that he might gaze upon Him, God radiated upon the mountain and as the hadith explains, "this light, I solemnly affirm was my light." Do you not see that the numerical value of the letters which make up my name is equal to the value of those which compose the word Rabb (Lord)? But has not God said in the Qur'an, "And when your Rabb radiates upon the mountain"?' "The Bab continues with a study of the prophecies contained in the Qur'an and in some of the hadiths concerning the manifestation of the Mihdi. He relates the celebrated hadith of Mufaddal which is one of the strongest arguments in favor of the truth of his mission. "It is said in the Qur'an, chapter 32, verse 4: 'From the heaven to the earth, He governeth all things; hereafter shall they come up to Him on a day whose length shall be a thousand of such years as ye reckon.' (Note: J. M. Rodwell's translation.) "On the other hand, the last Imam disappeared in the year 260 of the Hegira; it is at that time that the prophetic manifestation is completed and that 'The door of science is closed.' But Mufaddal questioned the Imam Sadiq as to the signs of the coming of the Mihdi and the Imam answered: 'He will appear in the year sixty and his name will be glorified.' This means in the year 1260 which is precisely the year of the manifestation of the Bab. "On this subject Siyyid Ali-Muhammad said: 'I declare before God I have never been taught and my education has been that of a merchant. In the year sixty, I felt my heart filled with potent verses, with true knowledge and with the testimony of God and I proclaimed my mission that very year.... That same year I sent you a messenger (Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i) carrying a Book, so that the government might fulfill its duty towards the Hujjat. But the will of God being that civil war should break out which would deafen the ears of men, blind their eyes and crush their hardened hearts, the messenger was not permitted to reach you. Those who considered themselves patriots intervened and, even today, after a lapse of four years, no one has told you the truth regarding this occurrence. And now as my time is near and my work is not human but divine, I have written briefly to you. "'If you could know how during these four years your officials and delegates have treated me! If you knew, the fear of God would choke you unless you would decide immediately to obey the Hujjat and make amends for the harm done. "'I was in Shiraz and I suffered from this evil and accursed governor such tyrannies that, if you knew even the least of them, your sense of justice would exact revenge, because his cruelty has drawn the punishment of heaven even unto the judgment day on the entire empire. This man, very proud and always inebriated, never gave an intelligent order. I was forced to leave Shiraz and was on my way to visit you in Tihran, but the late Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih understood my mission and did what respect for God's elect demands. The ignorant of the city started an uprising and I, therefore, hid myself in the Palace of Sadr until the death of Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih. May God reward him! There is no doubt that his salvation from eternal fire is due to what he has done for me. Then Gurgin forced me to travel during seven nights with five other men, exposed to every discomfort and brutality and deprived of every necessity. At last, the Sultan ordered that I should be taken to Mah-Ku without even providing me with a mount. I finally reached that village whose inhabitants are ignorant and coarse. I affirm before God, if you knew in what place I dwell, you would be the first to pity me. It is a dungeon on a mountain top and I owe that to your kindness! My companions are two men and four dogs. Imagine how I spend my days! I thank God as He should be thanked, and I declare before God that he who has thus imprisoned me is satisfied with himself. And if he only knew who it is he has so treated he would never again taste happiness! "'And now I reveal a secret to you! This man in imprisoning me has imprisoned all of the prophets, all the saints and him who is filled with divine wisdom. There is no sin which has not brought me affliction. When I learned of your command (to take me to Mah-Ku) I wrote to Sadr-i-A'zam: "Kill me and send my head wherever you please, because to live without sin among sinners does not please me." He did not reply and I am convinced that he did not understand the matter, because to sadden without reason the hearts of the believers is worse than to destroy the very house of God; but I declare that it is I who am today the house of God! Reward comes to him who is good to me; it is as though he were good to God, to His angels and to His saints. But perhaps God and His saints are too high above us for the good or evil of men to reach their threshold, but what happens to God, happens to me. I declare before God that he who has imprisoned me has imprisoned himself; only that which is the will of God can happen to me. Woe to him whose hand works evil! Blessed is he who scatters good! "'At last, to sum up this letter already too long: The late Mu'tamid, one night, dismissed all his guests to retire, even Haji Mulla Ahmad, and then he said to me: "I know very well that all I have acquired has been obtained through force and all that I have belongs to the Sahibu'z-Zaman. I therefore give it all to thee, thou art the Master of Truth and I ask of thee the privilege of ownership." He even took the ring off his finger and gave it to me. I took it and gave it back to him and I sent him away in possession of all his goods. God is witness of the truth of this testimony. I do not wish for a dinar of his wealth, that is for you to dispose of; but as, in any dispute, God requires the testimony of two witnesses, from the midst of all the learned, call Siyyid Yahya and Akhund Mulla Abdu'l-Khaliq. They will show you and will explain my verses and the truth of my testimony will appear. "'Of these two personages, one knew me before the manifestation, the other afterward; I have chosen them because they both know me well!' "The letter ends with cabalistic proofs and some hadiths. It is clear therefore that the Bab was very unhappy in his prison. He evidently remained there a long time, as the document which we have quoted dates back to 1264, and the execution of the martyr took place only on the twenty-seventh of Sha'ban of the year 1266 (July 8, 1850)." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 367-373.)]<p249>

I have heard Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi bear witness to the following: "The voice of the Bab, as He dictated the teachings and principles of His Faith, could be clearly heard by those who were dwelling at the foot of the mountain. The melody of His chanting, the rhythmic flow of the verses which streamed from His lips caught our ears and penetrated into our very souls. Mountain and valley re-echoed the majesty of His voice. Our hearts vibrated in their depths to the appeal of His utterance."[1]

[1 This is the prayer which the Bab Himself quotes in the "Dalia'il-i-Sab'ih" as His supplication during the months of His captivity in the castle of Mah-Ku: "O my God! Grant to him, to his descendants, to his family, to his friends, to his subjects, to his relatives and all the inhabitants of the earth the light which will clarify their vision and facilitate their task; grant that they may partake of the noblest works here and hereafter! "In truth, nothing is impossible to Thee. "O my God! give him the power to bring about a revival of Thy religion and give life by him to what Thou hast changed in Thy Book. Manifest through him Thy new commandments so that through him Thy religion may blossom again! Put into his hands a new Book, pure and holy, that this Book may be free from all doubt and uncertainty and that no one may be able to alter or destroy it. "O my God! Dispel through Thy splendor all darkness and through his evident power do away with the antiquated laws. By his preeminence ruin those who have not followed the ways of God. Through him destroy all tyrants, put an end, through his sword, to all discord; annihilate, through his justice, all forms of oppression; render the rulers obedient to his commandments; subordinate all the empires of the world to his empire! "O my God! Humble everyone who desires to humble him; destroy all his enemies; deny anyone who denies him and confuse anyone who spurns the truth, resists his orders, endeavors to darken his light and blot his name!" The Bab then adds these words: "Repeat these benedictions often and, if time to recite them all be lacking, do not fail to say at least the last. Be awake on the day of the apparition of Him whom God will manifest because this prayer has come down from heaven for Him, although I hope no sorrow awaits Him; I have taught the believers in my religion never to rejoice over the misfortune of anyone. It is possible therefore that at the time of the appearance of the Sun of Truth no suffering may fall upon Him." ("Le Livre des Sept Preuves," translation of A. L. M. Nicolas, pp. 64-65.)] <p250>

The gradual relaxation of the stern discipline imposed upon the Bab encouraged an increasing number of His disciples from the different provinces of Persia to visit Him in the castle of Mah-Ku. An unceasing stream of eager and devout pilgrims was directed to its gates through the gentleness and leniency of Ali Khan.[1] After a stay of three days, they would invariably be dismissed by the Bab, with instructions to return to their respective fields of service and to resume their labours for the consolidation of His Faith. Ali <p251> Khan himself never failed to pay his respects to the Bab each Friday, and to assure Him of his unswerving loyalty and devotion. He often presented Him with the rarest and choicest fruit available in the neighbourhood of Mah-Ku, and would continually offer Him such delicacies as he thought would prove agreeable to His taste and liking.

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

In this manner the Bab spent the summer and autumn within the walls of that castle. A winter followed of such <p252> 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.[1] The water which the Bab used for His ablutions was of such icy coldness that its drops glistened as they froze upon His face. He would invariably, after the termination of each prayer, summon Siyyid Husayn to His presence and would request him to read aloud to Him a passage from the Muhriqu'l-Qulub, a work composed by the late Haji Mulla Mihdi, the great-grandfather of Haji Mirza Kamalu'd-Din-i-Naraqi, in which the author extols the virtues, laments the death, and narrates the circumstances of the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn. The recital of those sufferings would provoke intense emotion in the heart of the Bab. His tears would keep flowing as He listened to the tale of the unutterable indignities heaped upon him, and of the agonising pain which he was made to suffer at the hands of a perfidious enemy. As the circumstances of that tragic life were unfolded before Him, the Bab was continually reminded of that still greater tragedy which was destined to signalise the advent of the promised Husayn. To Him those past atrocities were but a symbol which foreshadowed the bitter afflictions which His own beloved Husayn was soon to suffer at the hands of His countrymen. He wept as He pictured in His mind those calamities which He who was to be made manifest was predestined to suffer, calamities such as the Imam Husayn, even in the midst of his agonies, was never made to endure.[2]

[1 December 9, 1847-January 8, 1848 A.D.]

[2 "During his sojourn in Mah-Ku, the Bab composed a great number of works amongst the most important of which may be especially mentioned the Persian Bayan and the Seven Proofs, (Dala'il-i-Sab'ih) both of which contain ample internal evidence of having been written at this period. Indeed, if we may credit a statement made in the Tarikh-i-Jadid, on the authority of Mirza Abdu'l-Vahhab, the various writings of the Bab, current in Tabriz alone, amounted in all to not less than a million verses!" ("A Traveller's Narrative" Note L, p. 200.) Regarding the "Dala'il-i-Sab'ih," Nicolas writes as follows: "'The Book of Seven Proofs' is the most important of the polemical works from the pen of Siyyid Ali-Muhammad, dit le Bab." (Preface, page 1.) "His correspondent evidently asked him for the proofs of his mission and his answer is admirable for its precision and clearness. It rests upon two verses of the Qur'an; according to the first, no one can reveal verses even though assisted by the entire world of men and evil spirits; according to the second, no one can understand the meaning of the verses of the Qur'an except God, and men of solid learning." (Preface, p. 5.) "Clearly the arguments of the Bab are new and original and one can see, by this brief reference, of what profound interest must be his literary work. The scope of my work does not permit me to expound, even briefly, the principal dogmas of a bold doctrine the form of which is both brilliant and attractive. I hope to do so in the future but I wish to make another comment upon the 'Book of the Seven Proofs': toward the end of his book, the Bab speaks of the miracles which have accompanied his manifestation. This will probably astonish the readers, as we have seen the new apostle deny clearly the truth of the physical miracles which the Muhammadan imagination attributes to Muhammad. He affirms that, for himself as well as for the Arabian Prophet, the only proof of his mission was the outpouring of the verses. He offers no other proof, not because he is unable to perform miracles, (God being all-powerful) but simply because physical marvels are of inferior order in comparison with spiritual miracles." (Preface, pp. 12-13.) ("Le Livre des Sept Preuves," translation by A. L. M. Nicolas.)] <p253>

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

No sooner had Muhammad Shah condemned the Bab to captivity amid the mountain fastnesses of Adhirbayjan than he became afflicted with a sudden reverse of fortune, such as he had never known before and which struck at the very foundations of his State. Appalling disaster surprised his forces that were engaged in maintaining internal order throughout the provinces.[1] The standard of rebellion was <p254> hoisted in Khurasan, and so great was the consternation provoked by that rising that the projected campaign of the Shah to Hirat was immediately abandoned. Haji Mirza Aqasi's recklessness and prodigality had fanned into flame the smouldering fires of discontent, had exasperated the masses and encouraged them to stir up sedition and mischief. The most turbulent elements in Khurasan that inhabited the regions of Quchan, Bujnurd, and Shiravan leagued themselves with the Salar, son of the Asifu'd-Dawlih, the elder maternal uncle of the Shah and governor of the province, and repudiated the authority of the central government. Whatever forces were despatched from the capital met with immediate defeat at the hands of the chief instigators of the rebellion. Ja'far-Quli Khan-i-Namdar and Amir Arslan Khan, son of the Salar, who conducted the operations against the forces of the Shah, displayed the utmost cruelty and, having repulsed the attacks of the enemy, mercilessly put their captives to death.

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

Mulla Husayn was at that time residing at Mashhad,[1] 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 <p255> self in the plots of that proud and rebellious chief. In the dead of night, with only Qambar-'Ali as his attendant, he proceeded on foot in the direction of Tihran, from which place he was determined to visit Adhirbayjan, where he hoped to meet the Bab. His friends, when they learned of the manner of his departure, immediately provided whatever would be conducive to the comforts of his long and arduous journey and hastened to overtake him. Mulla Husayn declined their help. "I have vowed," he said, "to walk the whole distance that separates me from my Beloved. I shall not relax in my resolve until I shall have reached my destination." He even tried to induce Qambar-'Ali to return to Mashhad, but was finally obliged to yield to his entreaty to allow him to act as his servant throughout his pilgrimage to Adhirbayjan.

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

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

The night before his arrival at Mah-Ku, which was the eve of the fourth Naw-Ruz after the declaration of the <p256> Mission of the Bab, and which fell in that year, the year 1264 A.H.,[1] on the thirteenth of the month of Rabi'u'th-Thani, Ali Khan dreamed a dream. "In my sleep," he thus relates his story, "I was startled by the sudden intelligence that Muhammad, the Prophet of God, was soon to arrive at Mah-Ku, that He was to proceed directly to the castle in order to visit the Bab and to offer Him His congratulations on the advent of the Naw-Ruz festival. In my dream, I ran out to meet Him, eager to extend to so holy a Visitor the expression of my humble welcome. In a state of indescribable gladness, I hastened on foot in the direction of the river, and as I reached the bridge, which lay at a distance of a maydan [2] from the town of Mah-Ku, I saw two men advancing towards me. I thought one of them to be the Prophet Himself, while the other who walked behind Him I supposed to be one of His distinguished companions. I hastened to throw myself at His feet, and was bending to kiss the hem of His robe, when I suddenly awoke. A great joy had flooded my soul. I felt as if Paradise itself, with all its delights, had been crowded into my heart. Convinced of the reality of my vision, I performed my ablutions, offered my prayer, arrayed myself in my richest attire, anointed myself with perfume, and proceeded to the spot where, the night before in my dream, I had gazed upon the countenance of the Prophet. I had instructed my attendants to saddle three of my best and swiftest steeds and to conduct them immediately to the bridge. The sun had just risen when, alone and unescorted, I walked out of the town of Mah-Ku in the direction of the river. As I approached the bridge, I discovered, with a throb of wonder, the two men whom I had seen in my dream walking one behind the other, and advancing towards me. Instinctively I fell at the feet of the one whom I believed to be the Prophet, and devoutly kissed them. I begged Him and His companion to mount the horses which I had prepared for their entry into Mah-Ku. 'Nay,' was His reply, 'I have vowed to accomplish the whole of my journey on foot. I will walk to the summit of this mountain and will there visit your Prisoner.'"

[1 1848 A.D.]

[2 See Glossary.]

This strange experience of Ali Khan brought about a <p257> deepening of reverence in his attitude towards the Bab. His faith in the potency of His Revelation became even greater, and his devotion to Him was vastly increased. In an attitude of humble surrender, he followed Mulla Husayn until they reached the gate of the castle. As soon as the eyes of Mulla Husayn fell upon the countenance of his Master, who was seen standing at the threshold of the gate, he halted instantly and, bowing low before Him, stood motionless by His side. The Bab stretched forth His arms and affectionately embraced him. Taking him by the hand, He conducted him to His chamber. He then summoned His friends into His presence and celebrated in their company the feast of Naw-Ruz. Dishes of sweetmeats and of the choicest fruits had been spread before Him. He distributed them among His assembled friends, and as He offered some of the quinces and apples to Mulla Husayn, He said: "These luscious fruits have come to us from Milan, the Ard-i-Jannat,[1] and have been specially plucked and consecrated to this feast by the Ismu'llahu'l-Fatiq, Muhammad-Taqi."

[1 Literally "Land of Paradise.]

Until that time no one of the disciples of the Bab but Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi and his brother had been allowed to spend the night within the castle. That day Ali Khan went to the Bab and said: "If it be Your desire to retain <p258> Mulla Husayn with You this night, I am ready to abide by Your wish, for I have no will of my own. However long You desire him to stay with You, I pledge myself to carry out Your command." The disciples of the Bab continued to arrive in increasing numbers at Mah-Ku, and were immediately and without the least restriction admitted to His presence.

One day, as the Bab, in the company of Mulla Husayn, was looking out over the landscape of the surrounding country from the roof of the castle, He gazed towards the west and, as He saw the Araxes winding its course far away below Him, turned to Mulla Husayn and said: "That is the river, and this is the bank thereof, of which the poet Hafiz has thus written: 'O zephyr, shouldst thou pass by the banks of the Araxes, implant a kiss on the earth of that valley and make fragrant thy breath. Hail, a thousand times hail, to thee, O abode of Salma! How dear is the voice of thy camel-drivers, how sweet the jingling of thy bells!'[1] The days of your stay in this country are approaching their end. But for the shortness of your stay, we would have shown you the 'abode of Salma,' even as we have revealed to your eyes the 'banks of the Araxes.'" By the "abode of Salma" the Bab meant the town of Salmas, which is situated in the neighbourhood of Chihriq and which the Turks designate as Salmas. Continuing His remarks, the Bab said: "It is the immediate influence of the Holy Spirit that causes words such as these to stream from the tongue of poets, the significance of which they themselves are oftentimes unable to apprehend. The following verse is also divinely inspired: 'Shiraz will be thrown into a tumult; a Youth of sugar-tongue will appear. I fear lest the breath of His mouth should agitate and upset Baghdad.' The mystery enshrined within this verse is now concealed; it will be revealed in the year after Hin."[2] The Bab subsequently quoted this well-known tradition: "Treasures lie hidden beneath the throne <p259> of God; the key to those treasures is the tongue of poets." He then, one after the other, related to Mulla Husayn those events which must needs transpire in the future, and bade him not to mention them to anyone.[3] "A few days after your departure from this place," the Bab informed him, "they will transfer Us to another mountain. Ere you arrive at your destination, the news of Our departure from Mah-Ku will have reached you."

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

[2 See note 1, page 18.]

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

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

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

Twenty days after Naw-Ruz, the Bab bade farewell to the people of Mah-Ku, who, in the course of His nine months' captivity, had recognized to a remarkable degree the power <p260> of His personality and the greatness of His character. Mulla Husayn, who had already, at the bidding of the Bab, departed from Mah-Ku, was still in Tabriz when the news of his Master's predicted transference to Chihriq reached him. As the Bab bade His last farewell to Mulla Husayn, He addressed him in these words: "You have walked on foot all the way from your native province to this place. On foot you likewise must return until you reach your destination; for your days of horsemanship are yet to come. You are destined to exhibit such courage, such skill and heroism as shall eclipse the mightiest deeds of the heroes of old. Your daring exploits will win the praise and admiration of the dwellers in the eternal Kingdom. You should visit, on your way, the believers of Khuy, of Urumiyyih, of Maraghih, of Milan, of Tabriz, of Zanjan, of Qazvin, and of Tihran. To each you will convey the expression of My love and tender affection. You will strive to inflame their hearts anew with the fire of the love of the Beauty of God, and will endeavour to fortify their faith in His Revelation. From Tihran you should proceed to Mazindaran, where God's hidden treasure will be made manifest to you. You will be called upon to perform deeds so great as will dwarf the mightiest achievements of the past. The nature of your task will, in that place, be revealed to you, and strength and guidance will be bestowed upon you that you may be fitted to render your service to His Cause."

On the morning of the ninth day after Naw-Ruz, Mulla Husayn set forth, as bidden by his Master, on his journey to Mazindaran. To Qambar-'Ali the Bab addressed these parting words: "The Qambar-'Ali of a bygone age would glory in that his namesake has lived to witness a Day for which even He [1] 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!'"

[1 Reference to the Prophet Muhammad.] <p261>




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

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

From Tihran Mulla Husayn proceeded to Mazindaran in eager expectation of witnessing the revelation of the hidden treasure promised to him by his Master. Quddus was at that time living in Barfurush in the home which had originally belonged to his own father. He freely associated with all classes of people, and by the gentleness of his character and the wide range of his learning had won the affection and unqualified admiration of the inhabitants of that town. Upon his arrival in that city, Mulla Husayn went directly to the home of Quddus and was affectionately received by him. Quddus himself waited upon his guest, and did his utmost to provide whatever seemed necessary for his comfort. With his own hands he removed the dust, and washed the blistered skin of his feet. He offered him the seat of honour in the company of his assembled friends, and introduced, with <p262> extreme reverence, each of the believers who had gathered to meet him.

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

Quddus enquired whether he had brought with him any of his Master's writings, and, on being informed that he had none with him, presented his guest with the pages of a manuscript which he had in his possession, and requested him to read certain of its passages. As soon as he had read a page of that manuscript, his countenance underwent a <p263> sudden and complete change. His features betrayed an undefinable expression of admiration and surprise. The loftiness, the profundity--above all, the penetrating influence of the words he had read, provoked intense agitation in his heart and called forth the utmost praise from his lips. Laying down the manuscript, he said: "I can well realise that the Author of these words has drawn His inspiration from that Fountainhead which stands immeasurably superior to the sources whence the learning of men is ordinarily derived. I hereby testify to my whole-hearted recognition of the sublimity of these words and to my unquestioned acceptance of the truth which they reveal." From the silence which Quddus observed, as well as from the expression which his countenance betokened, Mulla Husayn concluded that no one else except his host could have penned those words. He instantly arose from his seat and, standing with bowed head at the threshold of the door, reverently declared: "The hidden treasure of which the Bab has spoken, now lies unveiled before my eyes. Its light has dispelled the gloom of perplexity and doubt. Though my Master be now hidden amid the mountain fastnesses of Adhirbayjan, the sign of His splendour and the revelation of His might stand manifest before me. I have found in Mazindaran the reflection of His glory."

How grave, how appalling the mistake of Haji Mirza Aqasi! This foolish minister had vainly imagined that by condemning the Bab to a life of hopeless exile in a remote and sequestered corner of Adhirbayjan, he would succeed in concealing from the eyes of his countrymen that Flame of God's undying Fire. Little did he perceive that by setting up the Light of God upon a hill, he was helping to diffuse its radiance and to proclaim its glory. By his own acts, by his amazing miscalculations, instead of hiding that heavenly Flame from the eyes of men, he gave it still further prominence and helped to excite its glow. How fair, on the other hand, was Mulla Husayn, and how keen and sure his judgment! Of those who had known and seen him, none could for one moment question the erudition of this youth, his charm, his high integrity and amazing courage. Had he, after the death of Siyyid Kazim, declared himself the promised <p264> Qa'im, the most distinguished among his fellow-disciples would have unanimously acknowledged his claim and submitted to his authority. Had not Mulla Muhammad-i-Mamaqani, that noted and learned disciple of Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i, after he was made acquainted in Tabriz by Mulla Husayn with the claims of the new Revelation, declared: "I take God as my witness! Had this claim which the Siyyid-i-Bab has made been advanced by this same Mulla Husayn I would, in view of his remarkable traits of character and breadth of knowledge, have been the first to champion his cause and to proclaim it to all people. As he, however, has chosen to subordinate himself to another person, I have ceased to have any confidence in his words and have refused to respond to his appeal." Had not Siyyid Muhammad-Baqir-i-Rashti, when he heard Mulla Husayn so ably resolve the perplexities which had long afflicted his mind, testified in such glowing terms to his high attainments: "I, who fondly imagined myself capable of confounding and silencing Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti, realised, when I first met and conversed with him who claims to be only his humble disciple, how grievously I had erred in my judgment. Such is the strength with which this youth seems endowed that if he were to declare the day to be night, I would still believe him able to deduce such proofs as would conclusively demonstrate, in the eyes of the learned divines, the truth of his statement."

On the very night he was brought in contact with the Bab, Mulla Husayn, though at first conscious of his own infinite superiority and predisposed to belittle the claims advanced by the son of an obscure merchant of Shiraz, did not fail to perceive, as soon as his Host had begun to unfold His theme, the incalculable benefits latent in His Revelation. He eagerly embraced His Cause and disdainfully abandoned whatever might hamper his own efforts for the proper understanding and the effective promotion of its interests. And when, in due course, Mulla Husayn was given the opportunity of appreciating the transcendent sublimity of the writings of Quddus, he, with his usual sagacity and unerring judgment, was likewise able to estimate the true worth and merit of those special gifts with which both the person and the utterance <p265> of Quddus were endowed. The vastness of his own acquired knowledge dwindled into insignificance before the all-encompassing, the God-given virtues which the spirit of this youth displayed. That very moment, he pledged his undying loyalty to him who so powerfully mirrored forth the radiance of his own beloved Master. He felt it to be his first obligation to subordinate himself entirely to Quddus, to follow in his footsteps, to abide by his will, and to ensure by every means in his power his welfare and safety. Until the hour of his martyrdom, Mulla Husayn remained faithful to his pledge. In the extreme deference which he henceforth showed to Quddus, he was solely actuated by a firm and unalterable conviction of the reality of those supernatural gifts which so clearly distinguished him from the rest of his fellow-disciples. No other consideration induced him to show such deference and humility in his behaviour towards one who seemed to be but his equal. Mulla Husayn's keen insight swiftly apprehended the magnitude of the power that lay latent in him, and the nobility of his character impelled him to demonstrate befittingly his recognition of that truth.

Such was the transformation wrought in the attitude of Mulla Husayn towards Quddus that the believers who gathered the next morning at his house were extremely surprised to find that the guest who the night before had occupied the seat of honour, and upon whom had been lavished such kindness and hospitality, had given his seat to his host and was now standing, in his place, at the threshold in an attitude of complete humility. The first words which, in the company of the assembled believers, Quddus addressed to Mulla Husayn were the following: "Now, at this very hour, you should arise and, armed with the rod of wisdom and of might, silence the host of evil plotters who strive to discredit the fair name of the Faith of God. You should face that multitude and confound their forces. You should place your reliance upon the grace of God, and should regard their machinations as a futile attempt to obscure the radiance of the Cause. You should interview the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama', that notorious and false-hearted tyrant, and should fearlessly disclose to his eyes the distinguishing features of this Revelation. From thence you should proceed to Khurasan. In the town <p266> of Mashhad, you should build a house so designed as both to serve for our private residence and at the same time afford adequate facilities for the reception of our guests. Thither we shall shortly journey, and in that house we shall dwell. To it you shall invite every receptive soul who we hope may be guided to the River of everlasting life. We shall prepare and admonish them to band themselves together and proclaim the Cause of God."

Mulla Husayn set out the next day at the hour of sunrise to interview the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama'. Alone and unaided, he sought his presence and conveyed to him, as bidden by Quddus, the Message of the new Day. With fearlessness and eloquence, he pleaded, in the midst of the assembled disciples, the Cause of his beloved Master, called upon him to demolish those idols which his own idle fancy had carved and to plant upon their shattered fragments the standard of Divine guidance. He appealed to him to disentangle his mind from the fettering creeds of the past, and to hasten, free and untrammelled, to the shores of eternal salvation. With characteristic vigour, he defeated every argument with which that specious sorcerer sought to refute the truth of the Divine Message, and exposed, by means of his unanswerable logic, the fallacies of every doctrine that he endeavoured to propound. Assailed by the fear lest the congregation of his disciples should unanimously rally round the person of Mulla Husayn, the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' had recourse to the meanest of devices, and indulged in the most abusive language in the hope of safeguarding the integrity of his position. He hurled his calumnies into the face of Mulla Husayn, and, contemptuously ignoring the proofs and testimonies adduced by his opponent, confidently asserted, without the least justification on his part, the futility of the Cause he had been summoned to embrace. No sooner had Mulla Husayn realised his utter incapacity to apprehend the significance of the Message he had brought him than he arose from his seat and said: "My argument has failed to rouse you from your sleep of negligence. My deeds will in the days to come prove to you the power of the Message you have chosen to despise." He spoke with such vehemence and emotion that the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' was utterly confounded. <p267> Such was the consternation of his soul that he was unable to reply. Mulla Husayn then turned to a member of that audience who seemed to have felt the influence of his words, and charged him to relate to Quddus the circumstances of this interview. "Say to him," he added: "'Inasmuch as you did not specifically command me to seek your presence, I have determined to set out immediately for Khurasan. I proceed to carry out in their entirety those things which you have instructed me to perform.'"

Alone and with a heart wholly detached from all else but God, Mulla Husayn set out on his journey to Mashhad. His only companion, as he trod his way to Khurasan, was the thought of accomplishing faithfully the wishes of Quddus, and his one sustenance the consciousness of his unfailing promise. He went directly to the home of Mirza Muhammad-Baqir-i-Qa'ini, and was soon able to buy, in the neighbourhood of that house in Bala-Khiyaban, a tract of land on which he began to erect the house which he had been commanded to build, and to which he gave the name of Babiyyih, a name that it bears to the present day. Shortly after it was completed, Quddus arrived at Mashhad and abode in that house. A steady stream of visitors, whom the energy and zeal of Mulla Husayn had prepared for the acceptance of the Faith, poured into the presence of Quddus, acknowledged the claim of the Cause, and willingly enlisted under its banner. The all-observing vigilance with which Mulla Husayn laboured to diffuse the knowledge of the new Revelation, and the masterly manner in which Quddus edified its ever-increasing adherents, gave rise to a wave of enthusiasm which swept over the entire city of Mashhad, and the effects of which spread rapidly beyond the confines of Khurasan. The house of Babiyyih was soon converted into a rallying centre for a multitude of devotees who were fired with an inflexible resolve to demonstrate, by every means in their power, the great inherent energies of their Faith. <p268>




AS THE appointed hour approached when, according to the dispensations of Providence, the veil which still concealed the fundamental verities of the Faith was to be rent asunder, there blazed forth in the heart of Khurasan a flame of such consuming intensity that the most formidable obstacles standing in the way of the ultimate recognition of the Cause melted away and vanished.[1] That fire caused such a conflagration in the hearts of men that the effects of its quickening power were felt in the most outlying provinces of Persia. It obliterated every trace of the misgivings and doubts which had still lingered in the hearts of the believers, and had hitherto hindered them from apprehending the full measure of its glory. The decree of the enemy had condemned to perpetual isolation Him who was the embodiment of the beauty of God, and sought thereby to quench for all time the flame of His love. The hand of Omnipotence, however, was busily engaged, at a time when the host of evil-doers were darkly plotting against Him, in confounding their schemes and in nullifying their efforts. In the easternmost province of Persia, the Almighty had, through the hand of Quddus, lit a fire that glowed with the hottest flame in the breasts of the people of Khurasan. And in Karbila, beyond the western confines of that land, He had kindled the light of Tahirih, a light that was destined to shed its radiance upon the whole of Persia. From the east <p269> and from the west of that country, the voice of the Unseen summoned those twin great lights to hasten to the land of Ta,[2] the day-spring of glory, the home of Baha'u'llah. He bade them each seek the presence, and revolve round the person of that Day-Star of Truth, to seek His advice, to reinforce His efforts, and to prepare the way for His coming Revelation.

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

[1 Tihran.]

In pursuance of the Divine decree, in the days when Quddus was still residing in Mashhad, there was revealed from the pen of the Bab a Tablet addressed to all the believers of Persia, in which every loyal adherent of the Faith was enjoined to "hasten to the Land of Kha," the province of Khurasan.[1] The news of this high injunction spread with marvellous rapidity and aroused universal enthusiasm. It reached the ears of Tahirih, who, at that time, was residing in Karbila and was bending every effort to extend the scope of the Faith she had espoused.[2] She had left her native town of Qazvin and had arrived, after the death of Siyyid Kazim, at that holy city, in eager expectation of witnessing the signs which the departed siyyid had foretold. In the foregoing pages we have seen how instinctively she had been led to discover the Revelation of the Bab and how spontaneously she had acknowledged its truth. Unwarned and uninvited, she perceived the dawning light of the promised Revelation breaking upon the city of Shiraz, and was prompted to pen her message and plead her fidelity to Him who was the Revealer of that light.

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

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

The Bab's immediate response to her declaration of faith which, without attaining His presence, she was moved to make, animated her zeal and vastly increased her courage. She arose to spread abroad His teachings, vehemently denounced the corruption and perversity of her generation, and fearlessly advocated a fundamental revolution in the habits <p270> and manners of her people.[1] Her indomitable spirit was quickened by the fire of her love for the Bab, and the glory of her vision was further enhanced by the discovery of the inestimable blessings latent in His Revelation. The innate fearlessness and the strength of her character were reinforced a hundredfold by her immovable conviction of the ultimate victory of the Cause she had embraced; and her boundless energy was revitalised by her recognition of the abiding value of the Mission she had risen to champion. All who met her in Karbila were ensnared by her bewitching eloquence and felt the fascination of her words. None could resist her charm; few could escape the contagion of her belief. All testified to the extraordinary traits of her character, marvelled at her amazing personality, and were convinced of the sincerity of her convictions.

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

She was able to win to the Cause the revered widow of Siyyid Kazim, who was born in Shiraz, and was the first among the women of Karbila to recognize its truth. I have heard Shaykh Sultan describe her extreme devotion to Tahirih, whom she revered as her spiritual guide and esteemed as her affectionate companion. He was also a fervent admirer of the character of the widow of the Siyyid, to whose gentleness of manner he often paid a glowing tribute. "Such was her attachment to Tahirih," Shaykh Sultan was often heard to remark, "that she was extremely reluctant to allow that heroine who was a guest in her house to absent herself, though it were for an hour, from her presence. So great an attachment on her part did not fail to excite the curiosity and quicken the faith of her women friends, both Persian and Arab, who were constant visitors in her home. In the first year of her acceptance of the Message, she suddenly <p271> fell ill, and after the lapse of three days, as had been the case with Siyyid Kazim, she departed this life."

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

The Bab's appeal, which was originally addressed to His followers in Persia, was soon transmitted to the adherents of His Faith in Iraq. Tahirih gloriously responded. Her example was followed immediately by a large number of her faithful admirers, all of whom expressed their readiness to journey forthwith to Khurasan. The ulamas of Karbila sought to dissuade her from undertaking that journey. Perceiving immediately the motive which prompted them to tender her such advice, and aware of their malignant design, she addressed to each of these sophists a lengthy epistle in which she set forth her motives and exposed their dissimulation.[1]

[1 According to Samandar (manuscript, p. 9), the main reason for the agitation of the people of Karbila which induced them to accuse Tahirih before the governor of Baghdad was her bold action in disregarding the anniversary of the martyrdom of Husayn which was being commemorated in the early days of the month of Muharram in the house of the late Siyyid Kazim in Karbila, and in celebrating instead the anniversary of the birthday of the Bab, which fell on the first day of that month. She is reported to have asked her sister and relatives to discard their mourning garb and wear instead gay attire, in open defiance of the customs and traditions of the people on that occasion.] <p272>

From Karbila she proceeded to Baghdad.[1] A representative delegation, consisting of the ablest leaders among the shi'ah, the sunni, the Christian and Jewish communities of that city, sought her presence and endeavoured to convince her of the folly of her actions. She was able, however, to silence their protestations, and astounded them with the force of her argument. Disillusioned and confused, they retired, deeply conscious of their own impotence.[2]

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

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

The ulamas of Kirmanshah respectfully received her and presented her with various tokens of their esteem and admiration.[1] In Hamadan,[2] however, the ecclesiastical leaders <p273> of the city were divided in their attitude towards her. A few sought privily to provoke the people and undermine her prestige; others were moved to extol openly her virtues and applaud her courage. "It behoves us," these friends declared from their pulpits, "to follow her noble example and reverently to ask her to unravel for us the mysteries of the Qur'an and to resolve the intricacies of the holy Book. For our highest attainments are but a drop compared to the immensity of her knowledge." While in Hamadan, Tahirih was met by those whom her father, Haji Mulla Salih, had sent from Qazvin to welcome and urge her, on his behalf, to visit her native town and prolong her stay in their midst.[3] She reluctantly consented. Ere she departed, she bade those who had accompanied her from Iraq to proceed to their native land. Among them were Shaykh Sultan, Shaykh Muhammad-i-Shibl and his youthful son, Muhammad-Mustafa, Abid and his son Nasir, who subsequently was given the name of Haji Abbas. Those of her companions who had been living in Persia, such as Siyyid Muhammad-i-Gulpaygani, whose pen-name was Ta'ir, and whom Tahirih had styled Fata'l-Malih, and others were also bidden to return to their homes. Only two of her companions remained with her--Shaykh Salih and Mulla Ibrahim-i-Gulpaygani, both of whom quaffed the cup of martyrdom, the first in Tihran and the other in Qazvin. Of her own kinsmen, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, one of the Letters of the Living and her brother-in-law, and Siyyid Abdu'l-Hadi, who had been betrothed to her daughter, travelled with her all the way from Karbila to Qazvin.

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

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

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

On her arrival at the house of her father, her cousin, the haughty and false-hearted Mulla Muhammad, son of Mulla Taqi, who esteemed himself, next to his father and his uncle, the most accomplished of all the mujtahids of Persia, sent certain ladies of his own household to persuade Tahirih to transfer her residence from her father's house to his own. "Say to my presumptuous and arrogant kinsman," was her bold reply to the messengers: "'If your desire had really been to be a faithful mate and companion to me, you would have hastened to meet me in Karbila and would on foot have <p274> <p275> guided my howdah+F1 all the way to Qazvin. I would, while journeying with you, have aroused you from your sleep of heedlessness and would have shown you the way of truth. But this was not to be. Three years have elapsed since our separation. Neither in this world nor in the next can I ever be associated with you. I have cast you out of my life for ever.'"

So stern and unyielding a reply roused both Mulla Muhammad and his father to a burst of fury. They immediately pronounced her a heretic, and strove day and night to undermine her position and to sully her fame. Tahirih vehemently defended herself and persisted in exposing the depravity of their character.[2] Her father, a peace-loving and fair-minded <p276> man, deplored this acrimonious dispute and endeavoured to bring about a reconciliation and harmony between them, but failed in his efforts.

[1 See Glossary.]

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

This state of tension continued until the time when a certain Mulla Abdu'llah, a native of Shiraz and fervent admirer of both Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim, arrived in Qazvin at the beginning of the month of Ramadan, in the year 1263 A.H.[1] Subsequently, in the course of his trial in Tihran, in the presence of the Sahib-Divan, this same Mulla Abdu'llah recounted the following: "I have never been a convinced Babi. When I arrived at Qazvin, I was on my way to Mah-Ku, intending to visit the Bab and investigate the nature of His Cause. On the day of my arrival at Qazvin, I became aware that the town was in a great state of turmoil. As I was passing through the market-place, I saw a crowd of ruffians who had stripped a man of his head-dress and shoes, had wound his turban around his neck, and by it were dragging him through the streets. An angry multitude was tormenting him with their threats, their blows and curses. 'His unpardonable guilt,' I was told in answer to my enquiry, 'is that he has dared to extol in public the virtues of Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim. Accordingly, Haji Mulla Taqi, the Hujjatu'l-Islam, has pronounced him a heretic and decreed his expulsion from the town.'"

[1 August 13-September 12, 1847 A.D.]

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

"I straightway left his presence and directed my steps <p277> 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.[1] Soon after, I saw Mulla Taqi enter alone, walk to the mihrab, and offer his prayer. Cautiously and quietly, I followed him and stood behind him. He was prostrating himself on the floor, when I rushed upon him, drew out my spear-head, and plunged it into the back of his neck. He uttered a loud cry. I threw him on his back and, unsheathing my dagger, drove it hilt-deep into his mouth. With the same dagger, I struck him at several places in his breast and side, and left him bleeding in the mihrab.

[1 See Glossary.]

"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 Mulla Taqi, who was on the point of death. As soon as he saw me, he recognized my features. In his agitation, he pointed with his finger to <p278> me, indicating that I had attacked him. He signified his desire that I be taken away from his presence. Shortly after, he expired. I was immediately arrested, was convicted of murder, and thrown into prison. The governor, however, failed to keep his promise and refused to release the prisoners."

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

The circumstances of the murder fanned to fury the wrath of the lawful heirs of Mulla Taqi, who now determined to wreak their vengeance upon Tahirih. They succeeded in having her placed in the strictest confinement in the house of her father, and charged those women whom they had selected to watch over her, not to allow their captive to leave her room except for the purpose of performing her daily ablutions. They accused her of really being the instigator of the crime. "No one else but you," they asserted, "is guilty of the murder of our father. You issued the order for his assassination." Those whom they had arrested and confined were conducted by them to Tihran and were incarcerated in the home of one of the kad-khudas [1] of the capital. The friends and heirs of Mulla Taqi scattered themselves in all directions, denouncing their captives as the repudiators of the law of Islam and demanding that they be immediately put to death.

[1 See Glossary.]

Baha'u'llah who was at that time residing in Tihran, was informed of the plight of these prisoners who had been the companions and supporters of Tahirih. As He was already acquainted with the kad-khuda in whose home they were incarcerated, He decided to visit them and intervene in their behalf. That avaricious and deceitful official, who was fully aware of the extreme generosity of Baha'u'llah, greatly exaggerated <p279> in the hope of deriving a substantial pecuniary advantage for himself, the misfortune that had befallen the unhappy captives. "They are destitute of the barest necessities of life," urged the kad-khuda. "They hunger for food, and their clothing is wretchedly scanty." Baha'u'llah extended immediate financial assistance for their relief, and urged the kad-khuda to relax the severity of the rule under which they were confined. The latter consented to relieve a few who were unable to support the oppressive weight of their chains, and for the rest did whatever he could to alleviate the rigour of their confinement. Prompted by greed, he informed his superiors of the situation, and emphasised the fact that both food and money were being regularly supplied by Baha'u'llah for those who were imprisoned in his house.

These officials were in their turn tempted to derive every possible advantage from the liberality of Baha'u'llah. They summoned Him to their presence, protested against His action, and accused Him of complicity in the act for which the captives had been condemned. "The kad-khuda," replied Baha'u'llah, "pleaded their cause before Me and enlarged upon their sufferings and needs. He himself bore witness to their innocence and appealed to Me for help. In return for the aid which, in response to his invitation, I was impelled to extend, you now charge Me with a crime of which I am innocent." Hoping to intimidate Baha'u'llah by threatening immediate punishment, they refused to allow Him to return to His home. The confinement to which He was subjected was the first affliction that befell Baha'u'llah in the path of the Cause of God; the first imprisonment He suffered for the sake of His loved ones. He remained in captivity for a few days, until Ja'far-Quli Khan, the brother of Mirza Aqa Khan-i-Nuri, who at a later time was appointed Grand Vazir of the Shah, and a number of other friends intervened in His behalf and, threatening the kad-khuda in severe 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 tumans,[1] but they soon found out that they were forced to comply with the wishes of Ja'far-Quli Khan without <p280> the hope of receiving, either from him or from Baha'u'llah, the slightest reward. With profuse apologies and with the utmost regret, they surrendered their Captive into his hands.

[1 See Glossary.]

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

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

The unsatiable hatred that animated those who had been responsible for the martyrdom of Shaykh Salih impelled them to seek additional instruments for the furtherance of their designs. Haji Mirza Aqasi, whom the Sahib-Divan had succeeded in convincing of the treacherous conduct of the heirs <p281> of Mulla Taqi, refused to entertain their appeal. Undeterred by his refusal, they submitted their case to the Sadr-i-Ardibili, a man notoriously presumptuous and one of the most arrogant among the ecclesiastical leaders of Persia. "Behold," they pleaded, "the indignity that has been inflicted upon those whose supreme function it is to keep guard over the integrity of the Law. How can you, who are its chief and illustrious exponent, allow so grave an affront to its dignity to remain unpunished? Are you really incapable of avenging the blood of that slaughtered minister of the Prophet of God? Do you not realise that to tolerate such a heinous crime would in itself unloose a flood of calumny against those who are the chief repositories of the teachings and principles of our Faith? Will not your silence embolden the enemies of Islam to shatter the structure which your own hands have reared? As a result, will not your own life be endangered?"

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

No sooner were the captives delivered into the hands of the mischief-makers than they set about gratifying their feelings of implacable hatred towards them. On the first night after they had been handed over to their enemies, Haji Asadu'llah, the brother of Haji Allah-Vardi and paternal uncle of Muhammad-Hadi and Muhammad-Javad-i-Farhadi, a noted merchant of Qazvin who had acquired a reputation for piety and uprightness which stood as high as that of his illustrious brother, was mercilessly put to death. Knowing <p282> full well that in his own native town they would be unable to inflict upon him the punishment they desired, they determined to take his life whilst in Tihran in a manner that would protect them from the suspicion of murder. At the hour of midnight, they perpetrated the shameful act, and, the next morning, announced that illness had been the cause of his death. His friends and acquaintances, mostly natives of Qazvin, none of whom had been able to detect the crime that had extinguished such a noble life, accorded him a burial that befitted his station.

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

Gracious God! Acts of such incredible savagery have been perpetrated in a town like Qazvin, which prides itself on the fact that no less than a hundred of the highest ecclesiastical leaders of Islam dwell within its gates, and yet none could be found among all its inhabitants to raise his voice in protest against such revolting murders! No one seemed to question their right to perpetrate such iniquitous and shameless deeds. No one seemed to be aware of the utter incompatibility between such ferocious deeds committed by those who claimed to be the sole repositories of the mysteries of Islam, and the exemplary conduct of those who first manifested its light to the world. No one was moved to exclaim indignantly: "O evil and perverse generation! To what depths of infamy and shame you have sunk! Have not the abominations which you have wrought surpassed in their ruthlessness the acts of the basest of men? Will you not recognize 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 <p283> belief that the efficacy of every congregational prayer is dependent upon the integrity of him who leads that prayer? Have you not again and again declared that no such prayer is acceptable in the sight of God until and unless the imam who leads the congregation has purged his heart from every trace of malice? And yet you deem those who instigate and share in the performance of such atrocities to be the true leaders of your Faith, the very embodiments of fairness and justice. Have you not committed to their hands the reins of your Cause and regarded them as the masters of your destinies?"

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

The failure of the Shah and of his government to inflict immediate punishment upon the malefactors encouraged them to seek further means for the gratification of their relentless hatred towards their opponents. They now directed their attention to Tahirih herself, and resolved that she should suffer at their hands the same fate that had befallen her companions. While still in confinement, Tahirih, as soon as she was informed of the designs of her enemies, addressed the following message to Mulla Muhammad, who had succeeded to the position of his father and was now recognized <p284> as the Imam-Jum'ih of Qazvin: "'Fain would they put out God's light with their mouths: but God only desireth to perfect His light, albeit the infidels abhor it.'[1] If my Cause be the Cause of Truth, if the Lord whom I worship be none other than the one true God, He will, ere nine days have elapsed, deliver me from the yoke of your tyranny. Should He fail to achieve my deliverance, you are free to act as you desire. You will have irrevocably established the falsity of my belief." Mulla Muhammad, recognising his inability to accept so bold a challenge, chose to ignore entirely her message, and sought by every cunning device to accomplish his purpose.

[1 Qur'an, 9:33.]

In those days, ere the hour which Tahirih had fixed for her deliverance had struck, Baha'u'llah signified His wish that she should be delivered from her captivity and brought to Tihran. He determined to establish, in the eyes of the adversary, the truth of her words, and to frustrate the schemes which her enemies had conceived for her death. Muhammad-Hadiy-i-Farhadi was accordingly summoned by Him and was entrusted with the task of effecting her immediate transference to His own home in Tihran. Muhammad-Hadi was charged to deliver a sealed letter to his wife, Khatun-Jan, and instruct her to proceed, in the guise of a beggar, to the house where Tahirih was confined; to deliver the letter into her hands; to wait awhile at the entrance of her house, until she should join her, and then to hasten with her and commit her to his care. "As soon as Tahirih has joined you," Baha'u'llah urged the emissary, "start immediately for Tihran. This very night, I shall despatch to the neighbourhood of the gate of Qazvin an attendant, with three horses, that you will take with you and station at a place that you will appoint outside the walls of Qazvin. You will conduct Tahirih to that spot, will mount the horses, and will, by an unfrequented route, endeavour to reach at daybreak the outskirts of the capital. As soon as the gates are opened, you must enter the city and proceed immediately to My house. You should exercise the utmost caution lest her identity be disclosed. The Almighty will assuredly guide your steps and will surround you with His unfailing protection." <p285>

Fortified by the assurance of Baha'u'llah, Muhammad-Hadi set out immediately to carry out the instructions he had received. Unhampered by any obstacle, he, ably and faithfully, acquitted himself of his task, and was able to conduct Tahirih safely, at the appointed hour, to the home of his Master. Her sudden and mysterious removal from Qazvin filled her friends and foes alike with consternation. The whole night, they searched the houses and were baffled in their efforts to find her. The fulfilment of the prediction she had uttered astounded even the most sceptical among her opponents. A few were made to realise the supernatural character of the Faith she had espoused, and submitted willingly to its claims. Mirza Abdu'l-Vahhab, her own brother, acknowledged, that very day, the truth of the Revelation, but failed to demonstrate subsequently by his acts the sincerity of his belief.[1]

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

The hour which Tahirih had fixed for her deliverance found her already securely established under the sheltering shadow of Baha'u'llah. She knew full well into whose presence she had been admitted; she was profoundly aware of the sacredness of the hospitality she had been so graciously accorded.[1] As it was with her acceptance of the Faith proclaimed by the Bab when she, unwarned and unsummoned, had hailed His Message and recognized its truth, so did she perceive through her own intuitive knowledge the future glory of Baha'u'llah. It was in the year '60, while in Karbila, that she alluded in her odes to her recognition of the Truth He was to reveal. I have myself been shown in Tihran, in the <p286> home of Siyyid Muhammad, whom Tahirih had styled Fata'l-Malih, the verses which she, in her own handwriting, had penned, every letter of which bore eloquent testimony to her faith in the exalted Missions of both the Bab and Baha'u'llah. In that ode the following verse occurs: "The effulgence of the Abha Beauty hath pierced the veil of night; behold the souls of His lovers dancing, moth-like, in the light that has flashed from His face!" It was her steadfast conviction in the unconquerable power of Baha'u'llah that prompted her to utter her prediction with such confidence, and to fling her challenge so boldly in the face of her enemies. Nothing short of an immovable faith in the unfailing efficacy of that power could have induced her, in the darkest hours of her captivity, to assert with such courage and assurance the approach of her victory.

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

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

I have heard Aqay-i-Kalim recount the following: "Putting our trust in God, we rode out, Tahirih, her attendant, and I, to a place in the vicinity of the capital. None of the guards who were stationed at the gate of Shimiran raised the slightest objection, nor did they enquire regarding our destination. At a distance of two farsangs [1] 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 <p287> man who was watering his plants. In answer to my enquiry, he explained that a dispute had arisen between the owner and his tenants, as a result of which those who occupied the place had deserted it. 'I have been asked by the owner,' he added, 'to keep guard over this property until the settlement of the dispute.' I was greatly delighted with the information he gave me, and asked him to share with us our luncheon. When, later in the day, I decided to depart for Tihran, I found him willing to watch over and guard Tahirih and her attendant. As I committed them to his care, I assured him that I would either myself return that evening or send a trusted attendant whom I would follow the next morning with all the necessary requirements for the journey to Khurasan.

[1 See Glossary.]

"Upon my arrival at Tihran, I despatched Mulla Baqir, one of the Letters of the Living, together with an attendant, to join Tahirih. I informed Baha'u'llah of her safe departure from the capital. He was greatly pleased at the information I gave Him, and named that orchard 'Bagh-i-Jannat.'[1] 'That house,' He remarked, 'has been providentially prepared for your reception, that you may entertain in it the loved ones of God.'

[1 "Garden of Paradise."]

"Tahirih tarried seven days in that spot, after which she set out, accompanied by Muhammad-Hasan-i-Qazvini, surnamed Fata, and a few others, in the direction of Khurasan. I was commanded by Baha'u'llah to arrange for her departure and to provide whatever might be required for her journey." <p289>




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

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

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

Mulla Husayn was in the presence of Quddus when the news of the disgraceful affliction that had befallen his servant <p289> reached him. Fearing lest this sad intelligence might grieve the heart of his beloved chief, he arose and quietly retired. His companions soon gathered round him, expressed their indignation at this outrageous assault upon so innocent a follower of their Faith, and urged him to avenge the insult. Mulla Husayn tried to appease their anger. "Let not," he pleaded, "the indignity that has befallen Hasan afflict and disturb you, for Husayn is still with you and will safely deliver him back into your hands to-morrow."

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

[1 "O Lord of the Age!" one of the titles of the promised Qa'im.]

In the midst of the confusion that ensued, those who were holding the halter with which they dragged Hasan through the streets, perished by the sword. The companions of Mulla Husayn conducted the released captive into the presence of their leader and informed him of the fate that had befallen the oppressor. "You have refused," Mulla Husayn is reported to have remarked, "to tolerate the trials to which Hasan has been subjected; how can you reconcile yourselves to the martyrdom of Husayn?"[1]

[1 Allusion to his own martyrdom.]

The city of Mashhad, which had just recovered its peace and tranquillity after the rebellion that the Salar had provoked, was plunged again into confusion and distress. Prince Hamzih Mirza was stationed with his men and munitions at a distance of four farsangs [1] from the city, ready to face whatever emergency might arise when the news of these fresh disturbances suddenly reached him. He immediately <p290> despatched a detachment to the city with instructions to obtain the assistance of the governor for the arrest of Mulla Husayn, and to conduct him into his presence. Abdu'l-'Ali Khan-i-Maraghiyi, the captain of the prince's artillery, immediately intervened. "I deem myself," he pleaded, "one among the lovers and admirers of Mulla Husayn. If you contemplate inflicting any harm upon him, I pray you to take my life and then to proceed to execute your design; for I cannot, so long as I live, tolerate the least disrespect towards him."

[1 See Glossary.]

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

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

Mulla Husayn joyously responded. He threw himself at the feet of Quddus and assured him of his firm determination to discharge with fidelity the obligations which he had imposed upon him. Quddus lovingly took him in his arms and, kissing his eyes and his forehead, committed him to the <p291> Almighty's unfailing protection. Early that same afternoon, Mulla Husayn mounted his steed and rode out with dignity and calm to the encampment of Prince Hamzih Mirza, and was ceremoniously conducted by Abdu'l-'Ali Khan, who, together with a number of officers, had been appointed by the prince to go out and welcome him, to the tent that had been specially erected for his use.

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

With these words, Quddus bade farewell to his companions and, accompanied by Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Qazvini, departed from Mashhad. A few days later, he encountered Mirza Sulayman-i-Nuri, who informed him of the circumstances attending the deliverance of Tahirih from her confinement in Qazvin, of her journey in the direction of Khurasan, and of Baha'u'llah's subsequent departure from the capital. Mirza Sulayman, as well as Mirza Muhammad-Ali, <p292> remained in the company of Quddus until their arrival at Badasht. They reached that hamlet at the hour of dawn and found there assembled a large gathering of people whom they recognized as their fellow-believers. They decided, however, to resume their journey, and proceeded directly to Shah-Rud. As they were approaching that village, Mirza Sulayman, who was following at a distance behind them, encountered Muhammad-i-Hana-Sab, who was on his way to Badasht. In answer to his enquiry as to the object of that gathering, Mirza Sulayman was informed that Baha'u'llah and Tahirih had, a few days before, left Shah-Rud for that hamlet; that a large number of believers had already arrived from Isfahan, Qazvin, and other towns of Persia, and were waiting to accompany Baha'u'llah on His intended journey to Khurasan. "Tell Mulla Ahmad-i-Ibdal, who is now in Badasht," Mirza Sulayman remarked, "that this very morning a light has shone upon you, the radiance of which you have failed to recognize."[1]

[1 Allusion to Quddus.]

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

It was then the beginning of summer. Upon His arrival, Baha'u'llah rented three gardens, one of which He assigned exclusively to the use of Quddus, another He set apart for Tahirih and her attendant, and reserved the third for Himself. <p293> Those who had gathered in Badasht were eighty-one in number, all of whom, from the time of their arrival to the day of their dispersion, were the guests of Baha'u'llah. Every day, He revealed a Tablet which Mirza Sulayman-i-Nuri chanted in the presence of the assembled believers. Upon each He bestowed a new name. He Himself was henceforth designated by the name of Baha; upon the Last Letter of the Living was conferred the appellation of Quddus, and to Qurratu'l-'Ayn was given the title of Tahirih. To each of those who had convened at Badasht a special Tablet was subsequently revealed by the Bab, each of whom He addressed by the name recently conferred upon him. When, at a later time, a number of the more rigid and conservative among her fellow-disciples chose to accuse Tahirih of indiscreetly rejecting the time-honoured traditions of the past, the Bab, to whom these complaints had been addressed, replied in the following terms: "What am I to say regarding her whom the Tongue of Power of Glory has named Tahirih [the Pure One]?"

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

Shaykh Abu-Turab, one of the best-informed as to the nature of the developments in Badasht, is reported to have related the following incident: "Illness, one day, confined Baha'u'llah to His bed. Quddus, as soon as he heard of His indisposition, hastened to visit Him. He seated himself, when ushered into His presence, on the right hand of <p294> Baha'u'llah. The rest of the companions were gradually admitted to His presence, and grouped themselves around Him. No sooner had they assembled than Muhammad-Hasan-i-Qazvini, the messenger of Tahirih, upon whom the name of Fata'l-Qazvini had been newly conferred, suddenly came in and conveyed to Quddus a pressing invitation from Tahirih to visit her in her own garden. 'I have severed myself entirely from her,' he boldly and decisively replied. 'I refuse to meet her.'[1] The messenger retired immediately, and soon returned, reiterating the same message and appealing to him to heed her urgent call. 'She insists on your visit,' were his words. 'If you persist in your refusal, she herself will come to you.' Perceiving his unyielding attitude, the messenger unsheathed his sword, laid it at the feet of Quddus, and said: 'I refuse to go without you. Either choose to accompany me to the presence of Tahirih or cut off my head with this sword.' 'I have already declared my intention not to visit Tahirih,' Quddus angrily retorted. 'I am willing to comply with the alternative which you have chosen to put before me.'

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

"Muhammad-Hasan, who had seated himself at the feet of Quddus, had stretched forth his neck to receive the fatal blow, when suddenly the figure of Tahirih, adorned and unveiled, appeared before the eyes of the assembled companions. Consternation immediately seized the entire gathering.[1] All stood aghast before this sudden and most unexpected <p295> apparition. To behold her face unveiled was to them inconceivable. Even to gaze at her shadow was a thing which they deemed improper, inasmuch as they regarded her as the very incarnation of Fatimih,[2] the noblest emblem of chastity in their eyes.

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

[2 Daughter of Muhammad, and wife of the Imam Ali.]

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

"His threatening attitude failed, however, to move her. Her countenance displayed that same dignity and confidence which she had evinced at the first moment of her appearance before the assembled believers. A feeling of joy and triumph had now illumined her face. She rose from her seat and, undeterred by the tumult that she had raised in the hearts of her companions, began to address the remnant of that assembly. Without the least premeditation, and in language which bore a striking resemblance to that of the Qur'an, she delivered her appeal with matchless eloquence and profound fervour. She concluded her address with this verse of the Qur'an: 'Verily, amid gardens and rivers shall the pious dwell in the seat of truth, in the presence of the potent King.' As she uttered these words, she cast a furtive glance towards both Baha'u'llah and Quddus in such a manner that those who were watching her were unable to tell to which of the two she was alluding. Immediately <p296> after, she declared: 'I am the Word which the Qa'im is to utter, the Word which shall put to flight the chiefs and nobles of the earth!'[1]

[1 Refer to page 15.]

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

That memorable day and those which immediately followed it witnessed the most revolutionary changes in the life and habits of the assembled followers of the Bab. Their manner of worship underwent a sudden and fundamental transformation. The prayers and ceremonials by which those devout worshippers had been disciplined were irrevocably <p297> discarded. A great confusion, however, prevailed among those who had so zealously arisen to advocate these reforms. A few condemned so radical a change as being the essence of heresy, and refused to annul what they regarded as the inviolable precepts of Islam. Some regarded Tahirih as the sole judge in such matters and the only person qualified to claim implicit obedience from the faithful. Others who denounced her behaviour held to Quddus, whom they regarded as the sole representative of the Bab, the only one who had the right to pronounce upon such weighty matters. Still others who recognized the authority of both Tahirih and Quddus viewed the whole episode as a God-sent test designed to separate the true from the false and distinguish the faithful from the disloyal.

Tahirih herself ventured on a few occasions to repudiate the authority of Quddus. "I deem him," she is reported to have declared, "a pupil whom the Bab has sent me to edify and instruct. I regard him in no other light." Quddus did not fail, on his part, to denounce Tahirih as "the author of heresy," and stigmatised those who advocated her views as "the victims of error." This state of tension persisted for a few days until Baha'u'llah intervened and, in His masterly manner, effected a complete reconciliation between them. He healed the wounds which that sharp controversy had caused, and directed the efforts of both along the path of constructive service.[1]

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

The object of that memorable gathering had been attained.[1] The clarion-call of the new Order had been sounded. <p298> The obsolete conventions which had fettered the consciences of men were boldly challenged and fearlessly swept away. The way was clear for the proclamation of the laws and precepts that were destined to usher in the new Dispensation. The remnant of the companions who had gathered in Badasht accordingly decided to depart for Mazindaran. Quddus and Tahirih seated themselves in the same howdah [2] which had been prepared for their journey by Baha'u'llah. On their way, Tahirih each day composed an ode which she instructed those who accompanied her to chant as they followed her howdah. Mountain and valley re-echoed the shouts with which that enthusiastic band, as they journeyed to Mazindaran, hailed the extinction of the old, and the birth of the new Day.

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

[2 Refer to Glossary.]

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

I have heard Baha'u'llah Himself describe that incident: <p299> "We were all gathered in the village of Niyala and were resting at the foot of a mountain, when, at the hour of dawn, we were suddenly awakened by the stones which the people of the neighbourhood were hurling upon us from the top of the mountain. The fierceness of their attack induced our companions to flee in terror and consternation. I clothed Quddus in my own garments and despatched him to a place of safety, where I intended to join him. When I arrived, I found that he had gone. None of our companions had remained in Niyala except Tahirih and a young man from Shiraz, Mirza Abdu'llah. The violence with which we were assailed had brought desolation into our camp. I found no one into whose custody I could deliver Tahirih except that young man, who displayed on that occasion a courage and determination that were truly surprising. Sword in hand, undaunted by the savage assault of the inhabitants of the village, who had rushed to plunder our property, he sprang forward to stay the hand of the assailants. Though himself wounded in several parts of his body, he risked his life to protect our property. I bade him desist from his act. When the tumult had subsided, I approached a number of the inhabitants of the village and was able to convince them of the cruelty and shamefulness of their behaviour. I subsequently succeeded in restoring a part of our plundered property."

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

He accordingly commanded one of his officers in Tihran to instruct his son who was residing in Mazindaran to arrest <p300> Baha'u'llah and to conduct Him to the capital. The son of this officer received the communication on the very day preceding the reception which he had prepared to offer to Baha'u'llah, to whom he was devotedly attached. He was greatly distressed and did not divulge the news to anyone. Baha'u'llah, however, perceived his sadness and advised him to put his trust in God. The next day, as He was being accompanied by His friend to his home, they encountered a horseman who was coming from the direction of Tihran. "Muhammad Shah is dead!" that friend exclaimed in the Mazindarani dialect, as he hastened to rejoin Him after a brief conversation with the messenger. He drew out the imperial summons and showed it to Him. The document had lost its efficacy. That night was spent in the company of his guest in an atmosphere of undisturbed calm and gladness.

Quddus had in the meantime fallen into the hands of his opponents, and was confined in Sari in the home of Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, the leading mujtahid of that town. The rest of his companions, after their dispersal in Niyala, had scattered in different directions, each carrying with him to his fellow-believers the news of the momentous happenings of Badasht. <p301>




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

[1 July 3-August 1, 1848 A.D.]

I shall now relate the circumstances that led to that odious indignity which the persecutors of the Bab chose to inflict upon Him. He had, in pursuance of the orders issued by Haji Mirza Aqasi, been transferred to the castle of Chihriq [1] and consigned to the keeping of Yahya Khan-i-Kurd, whose sister was the wife of Muhammad Shah, the mother of the Nayibu's-Saltanih. Strict and explicit instructions <p302> had been given by the Grand Vazir to Yahya Khan, enjoining him not to allow anyone to enter the presence of his Prisoner. He was particularly warned not to follow the example of Ali Khan-i-Mah-Ku'i, who had gradually been led to disregard the orders he had received.[2]

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

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

Despite the emphatic character of that injunction, and in the face of the unyielding opposition of the all-powerful Haji Mirza Aqasi, Yahya Khan found himself powerless to abide by those instructions. He, too, soon came to feel the fascination of his Prisoner; he, too, forgot, as soon as he came into contact with His spirit, the duty he was expected to perform. At the very outset, the love of the Bab penetrated his heart and claimed his entire being. The Kurds who lived in Chihriq, and whose fanaticism and hatred of the shi'ahs exceeded the aversion which the inhabitants of Mah-Ku entertained for that people, were likewise subjected to the transforming influence of the Bab. Such was the love He had kindled in their hearts that every morning, ere they started for their daily work, they directed their steps towards His prison and, gazing from afar at the castle which contained His beloved self, invoked His name and besought His blessings. They would prostrate themselves on the ground and seek to refresh their souls with remembrance of Him. To one another they would freely relate the wonders of His power and glory, and would recount such dreams as bore witness to the creative power of His influence. To no one would Yahya Khan refuse admittance to the castle.[1] As Chihriq itself was unable to accommodate the increasing number of visitors who flocked to its gates, they were enabled to obtain the necessary lodgings in Iski-Shahr, the old Chihriq, which was situated at an hour's distance from the <p303> castle. Whatever provisions were required for the Bab were purchased in the old town and transported to His prison.

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

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

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

It came to pass at that time that a prominent official of high literary ability, Mirza Asadu'llah, who was later surnamed Dayyan by the Bab and whose vehement denunciations of His Message had baffled those who had endeavoured to convert him, dreamed a dream. When he awoke, he determined not to recount it to anyone, and, fixing his choice on two verses of the Qur'an, he addressed the following request to the Bab: "I have conceived three definite things in my mind. I request you to reveal to me their nature." Mirza Muhammad-'Ali was asked to submit this written request to the Bab. A few days later, he received a reply <p304> penned in the Bab'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, Mirza Asadu'llah hastened on foot along that steep and stony path which led from Khuy to the castle. His friends tried to induce him to proceed on horseback to Chihriq, but he refused their offer. His meeting with the Bab confirmed him in his belief and excited that fiery ardour which he continued to manifest to the end of his life.

That same year the Bab had expressed His desire that forty of His companions should each undertake to compose a treatise and seek, by the aid of verses and traditions, to establish the validity of His Mission. His wishes were instantly obeyed, and the result of their labours was duly submitted to His presence. Mirza Asadu'llah's treatise won the unqualified admiration of the Bab and ranked highest in His estimation. He bestowed on him the name Dayyan and revealed in his honour the Lawh-i-Hurufat [1] in which He made the following statement: "Had the Point of the Bayan [2] 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."

[1 Literally "Tablet of the Letters."]

[2 One of the titles of the Bab.]

The people of the Bayan, who utterly misconceived the purpose underlying that Tablet, thought it to be a mere exposition of the science of Jafr.[1] When, at a later time, in the early years of Baha'u'llah's incarceration in the prison city of Akka, Jinab-i-Muballigh made, from Shiraz, his request that He unravel the mysteries of that Tablet, there was revealed from His pen an explanation which they who misconceived the words of the Bab might do well to ponder. Baha'u'llah adduced from the statements of the Bab irrefutable evidence proving that the appearance of the Man-Yuzhiruhu'llah [2] must needs occur no less than nineteen years after the Declaration of the Bab. The mystery of the Mustaghath [3] had long baffled the most searching minds among the people of the Bayan and had proved an unsurmountable <p305> obstacle to their recognition of the promised One. The Bab had Himself in that Tablet unravelled that mystery; no one, however, was able to understand the explanation which He had given. It was left to Baha'u'llah to unveil it to the eyes of all men.

[1 Science of divination.]

[2 Reference to Baha'u'llah. See Glossary.]

[3 See Glossary.]

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

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

The news of the turmoil which that lowly dervish had been able to raise among the Kurdish leaders in Chihriq reached Tabriz and was thence communicated to Tihran. No sooner had the news reached the capital than orders <p306> were issued to transfer the Bab immediately to Tabriz in the hope of allaying the excitement which His continued residence in that locality had provoked. Before the news of this fresh order had reached Chihriq, the Bab had charged Azim to inform Qahru'llah of His desire that he return to India and there consecrate his life to the service of His Cause. "Alone and on foot," He commanded him, "he should return whence he came. With the same ardour and detachment with which he performed his pilgrimage to this country, he must now repair to his native land and unceasingly labour to advance the interests of the Cause." He also bade him instruct Mirza Abdu'l-Vahhab-i-Turshizi, who was living in Khuy, to proceed immediately to Urumiyyih, where He said He would soon join him. Azim himself was directed to leave for Tabriz and there inform Siyyid Ibrahim-i-Khalil of His approaching arrival at that city. "Tell him," the Bab added, "that the fire of Nimrod will shortly be kindled in Tabriz, but despite the intensity of its flame no harm will befall our friends."

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

Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Zunuzi, surnamed Anis, was among those who heard of the message from the Bab in Tabriz, and was fired with the desire to hasten to Chihriq and attain His presence. Those words had kindled in him an irrepressible longing to sacrifice himself in His path. Siyyid Aliy-i-Zunuzi, his stepfather, a notable of Tabriz, strenuously objected to his leaving the city, and was at last induced to confine him in his house and strictly watch over him. His <p307> Son languished in his confinement until the time when his Beloved had reached Tabriz and had been taken back again to His prison in Chihriq.

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

"During my stay in that city, I often visited Siyyid Aliy-i-Zunuzi, who was related to me, and frequently heard him deplore the sad fate of his son. 'He seems to have lost his reason,' he bitterly complained. 'He has, by his behaviour, brought reproach and shame upon me. Try to calm the agitation of his heart and induce him to conceal his convictions.' Every day I visited him, I witnessed the tears that continually rained from his eyes. After the Bab had departed from Tabriz, one day as I went to see him, I was surprised to note the joy and gladness which had illumined his countenance. His handsome face was wreathed in smiles as he stepped forward to receive me. 'The eyes of my Beloved,' he said, as he embraced me, 'have beheld this face, and these eyes have gazed upon His countenance.' 'Let me,' he added, 'tell you the secret of my happiness. After the Bab had been taken back to Chihriq, one day, as I lay confined in my cell, I turned my heart to Him and besought Him in these words: "Thou beholdest, O my Best-Beloved, my captivity and helplessness, and knowest how eagerly I yearn to look upon Thy face. Dispel the gloom that oppresses my heart, with the light of Thy countenance." What tears of agonising pain I shed that hour! I was so overcome with emotion that I seemed to have lost consciousness. Suddenly I heard the voice of the Bab, and, lo! He was calling me. He bade me arise. I beheld the majesty of His countenance as He appeared before me. He smiled as He looked into my eyes. I rushed forward and flung myself at His feet. "Rejoice," He said; "the hour is approaching when, in this very city, I shall be suspended before the eyes of the multitude <p308> and shall fall a victim to the fire of the enemy. I shall choose no one except you to share with Me the cup of martyrdom. Rest assured that this promise which I give you shall be fulfilled." I was entranced by the beauty of that vision. When I recovered, I found myself immersed in an ocean of joy, a joy the radiance of which all the sorrows of the world could never obscure. That voice keeps ringing in my ears. That vision haunts me both in the daytime and in the night-season. The memory of that ineffable smile has dissipated the loneliness of my confinement. I am firmly convinced that the hour at which His pledge is to be fulfilled can no longer be delayed.' I exhorted him to be patient and to conceal his emotions. He promised me not to divulge that secret, and undertook to exercise the utmost forbearance towards Siyyid Ali. I hastened to assure the father of his determination, and succeeded in obtaining his release from his confinement. That youth continued until the day of his martyrdom to associate, in a state of complete serenity and joy, with his parents and kinsmen. Such was his behaviour towards his friends and relatives that, on the day he laid down his life for his Beloved, the people of Tabriz all wept and bewailed him." <p309>




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

On a certain Friday when the Bab was going to the public bath, the prince, who was curious to test the courage and power of his Guest, ordered his groom to offer Him one of his wildest horses to ride. Apprehensive lest the Bab might suffer any harm, the attendant secretly approached Him and tried to induce Him to refuse to mount a horse that had already overthrown the bravest and most skilful of horsemen. "Fear not," was His reply. "Do as you have been bidden, and commit Us to the care of the Almighty." The inhabitants of Urumiyyih, who had been informed of the intention of the prince, had filled the public square, eager to witness what might befall the Bab. As soon as the horse was brought to Him, He quietly approached it and, taking hold of the bridle which the groom had offered Him, gently caressed it and placed His foot in the stirrup. The horse stood still and motionless beside Him as if conscious of the power which was dominating it. The multitude that watched this most unusual spectacle marvelled at the <p310> <p311> behaviour of the animal. To their simple minds this extraordinary incident appeared little short of a miracle. They hastened in their enthusiasm to kiss the stirrups of the Bab, but were prevented by the attendants of the prince, who feared lest so great an onrush of people might harm Him. The prince himself, who had accompanied his Guest on foot as far as the vicinity of the bath, was bidden by Him, ere they reached its entrance, to return to his residence. All the way, the prince's footmen were endeavouring to restrain the people who, from every side, were pressing forward to catch a glimpse of the Bab. Upon His arrival, He dismissed all those who had accompanied Him except the prince's private attendant and Siyyid Hasan, who waited in the antechamber and aided Him in undressing. On His return from the bath, He again mounted the same horse and was acclaimed by the same multitude. The prince came on foot to meet Him, and escorted Him back to his residence.

No sooner had the Bab left the bath than the people of Urumiyyih rushed to take away, to the last drop, the water which had served for His ablutions. Great excitement prevailed on that day. The Bab, as He observed these evidences of unrestrained enthusiasm, was reminded of the well-known tradition, commonly ascribed to the Imam Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, which specifically referred to Adhirbayjan. The lake of Urumiyyih, that same tradition asserts in its concluding passages, will boil up, will overrun its banks, and inundate the town. When He was subsequently informed how the overwhelming majority of the people had spontaneously arisen to proclaim their undivided allegiance to His Cause, He calmly observed: "Think men that when they say, 'We believe,' they shall be let alone and not be put to the proof?"[1] This comment was fully justified by the attitude which that same people assumed towards Him when the news of the dreadful treatment meted out to Him in Tabriz reached them. Hardly a handful among those who had so ostentatiously professed their faith in Him persevered, in the hour of trial, in their allegiance to His Cause. Foremost among these was Mulla Imam-Vardi, the tenacity of whose faith no one except Mulla Jalil-i-Urumi, a native of <p312> Urumiyyih and one of the Letters of the Living, could surpass. Adversity served but to intensify the ardour of his devotion and to reinforce his belief in the righteousness of the Cause he had embraced. He subsequently attained the presence of Baha'u'llah, the truth of whose Mission he readily recognized, and for the advancement of which he strove with the same fevered earnestness that had characterised his earlier strivings for the promotion of the Cause of the Bab. In recognition of his long-standing services, he, and also his family, were honoured with numerous Tablets from the pen of Baha'u'llah in which He extolled his achievements and invoked the blessings of the Almighty upon his efforts. With unflinching determination, he continued to labour for the furtherance of the Faith until past eighty years of age, when he departed this life.

[1 Qur'an, 29:2.]

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

Tabriz, in particular, was in the throes of the wildcat excitement. The news of the impending arrival of the Bab had inflamed the imagination of its inhabitants and had kindled the fiercest animosity in the hearts of the ecclesiastical leaders of Adhirbayjan. These alone, of all the people of Tabriz, abstained from sharing in the demonstrations with which a grateful population hailed the return of the Bab to their city. Such was the fervour of popular enthusiasm which that news had evoked that the authorities decided to house the Bab in a place outside the gates of the city. Only those <p313> whom He desired to meet were allowed the privilege of approaching Him. All others were strictly refused admittance.

On the second night after His arrival, the Bab summoned Azim to His presence and, in the course of His conversation with him, asserted emphatically His claim to be none other than the promised Qa'im. He found him, however, reluctant to acknowledge this claim unreservedly. Perceiving his inner agitation, He said: "To-morrow I shall, in the presence of the Vali-'Ahd,[1] and in the midst of the assembled ulamas and notables of the city, proclaim My Mission. Whoso may feel inclined to require from Me any other testimony besides the verses which I have revealed, let him seek satisfaction from the Qa'im of his idle fancy."

[1 The heir to the throne.]

I have heard Azim testify to the following: "That night I was in a state of great perturbation. I remained awake and restless until the hour of sunrise. As soon as I had offered my morning prayer, however, I realised that a great change had come over me. A new door seemed to have been unlocked and set open before my face. The conviction soon dawned upon me that if I were loyal to my faith in Muhammad, the Apostle of God, I must needs also unreservedly acknowledge the claims advanced by the Bab, and must submit without fear or hesitation to whatever He might choose to decree. This conclusion allayed the agitation of my heart. I hastened to the Bab and begged His forgiveness. 'It is a further evidence of the greatness of this Cause,' He remarked, 'that even Azim [1] 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."

[1 Literally meaning "great."] <p314>

The detention of the Bab outside the gate of Tabriz failed to allay the excitement which reigned in the city. Every measure of precaution, every restriction, which the authorities had imposed, served only to aggravate a situation which had already become ominous and menacing. Haji Mirza Aqasi issued his orders for the immediate convocation of the ecclesiastical dignitaries of Tabriz in the official residence of the governor of Adhirbayjan for the express purpose of arraigning the Bab and of seeking the most effective means for the extinction of His influence. Haji Mulla Mahmud, entitled the Nizamu'l-'Ulama', who was the tutor of Nasiri'd-Din Mirza the Vali-'Ahd,[1] Mulla Muhammad-i-Mamaqani, Mirza Ali-Asghar the Shaykhu'l-Islam, and a number of the most distinguished shaykhis and doctors of divinity were among those who had convened for that purpose.[2] Nasiri'd-Din Mirza himself attended that <p315> gathering. The presidency belonged to the Nizamu'l-'Ulama', who, as soon as the proceedings had begun, in the name of the assembly commissioned an officer of the army to introduce the Bab into their presence. A multitude of people had meanwhile besieged the entrance of the hall and were impatiently awaiting the time when they could catch a glimpse of His face. They were pressing forward in such large numbers that a passage had to be forced for Him through the crowd that had collected before the gate.

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

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

Upon His arrival, the Bab observed that every seat in that hall was occupied except one which had been reserved for the Vali-'Ahd. He greeted the assembly and, without the slightest hesitation, proceeded to occupy that vacant seat. The majesty of His gait, the expression of overpowering confidence which sat upon His brow--above all, the spirit of power which shone from His whole being, appeared to have for a moment crushed the soul out of the body of those whom He had greeted. A deep, a mysterious silence, suddenly fell upon them. Not one soul in that distinguished assembly dared breathe a single word. At last the stillness which brooded over them was broken by the Nizamu'l-'Ulama'. "Whom do you claim to be," he asked the Bab, "and what is the message which you have brought?" "I am," thrice exclaimed the Bab, "I am, I am, the promised One! I am the One whose name you have for a thousand years invoked, at whose <p316> mention you have risen, whose advent you have longed to witness, and the hour of whose Revelation you have prayed God to hasten. Verily I say, it is incumbent upon the peoples of both the East and the West to obey My word and to pledge allegiance to My person." No one ventured to reply except Mulla Muhammad-i-Mamaqani, a leader of the Shaykhi community who had been himself a disciple of Siyyid Kazim. It was he on whose unfaithfulness and insincerity the siyyid had tearfully remarked, and the perversity of whose nature he had deplored. Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, who had heard Siyyid Kazim make these criticisms, recounted to me the following: "I was greatly surprised at the tone of his reference to Mulla Muhammad, and was curious to know what his future behaviour would be so as to merit such expressions of pity and condemnation from his master. Not until I discovered his attitude that day towards the Bab did I realise the extent of his arrogance and blindness. I was standing together with other people outside the hall, and was able to follow the conversation of those who were within. Mulla Muhammad was seated on the left hand of the Vali-'Ahd. The Bab was occupying a seat between them. Immediately after He had declared Himself to be the promised One, a feeling of awe seized those who were present. They had dropped their heads in silent confusion. The pallor of their faces betrayed the agitation of their hearts. Mulla Muhammad, that one-eyed and white-bearded renegade, insolently reprimanded Him, saying: 'You wretched and immature lad of Shiraz! You have already convulsed and <p317> subverted Iraq; do you now wish to arouse a like turmoil in Adhirbayjan?' 'Your Honour,' replied the Bab, 'I have not come hither of My own accord. I have been summoned to this place.' 'Hold your peace,' furiously retorted Mulla Muhammad, 'you perverse and contemptible follower of Satan!' 'Your Honour,' the Bab again answered, 'I maintain what I have already declared.'

"The Nizamu'l-'Ulama' thought it best to challenge His Mission openly. 'The claim which you have advanced,' he told the Bab, 'is a stupendous one; it must needs be supported by the most incontrovertible evidence.' 'The mightiest, the most convincing evidence of the truth of the Mission of the Prophet of God,' the Bab replied, 'is admittedly His own Word. He Himself testifies to this truth: "Is it not enough for them that We have sent down to Thee the Book?"[1] The power to produce such evidence has been given to Me by God. Within the space of two days and two nights, I declare Myself able to reveal verses of such number as will equal the whole of the Qur'an.' 'Describe orally, if you speak the truth,' the Nizamu'l-'Ulama' requested, 'the proceedings of this gathering in language that will resemble the phraseology of the verses of the Qur'an so that the Vali-'Ahd and the assembled divines may bear witness to the truth of your claim.' The Bab readily acceded to his wish. No sooner had He uttered the words, 'In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, praise be to Him who has <p318> created the heaven and the earth,' than Mulla Muhammad-i-Mamaqani interrupted and called His attention to all infraction of the rules of grammar. 'This self-appointed Qa'im of ours,' he cried in haughty scorn, 'has at the very start of his address betrayed his ignorance of the most rudimentary rules of grammar!' 'The Qur'an itself,' pleaded the Bab, 'does in no wise accord with the rules and conventions current amongst men. The Word of God can never be subject to the limitations <p319> 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.'[2]

[1 Qur'an 29:51.]

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

"He then repeated the same-words He had uttered, to which Mulla Muhammad raised again the same objection. Shortly after, another person ventured to put this question to the Bab: 'To which tense does the word Ishtartanna belong?' In answer to him, the Bab quoted this verse of the Qur'an: 'Far be the glory of thy Lord, the Lord of all greatness, from what they impute to Him, and peace be upon His Apostles! And praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds.' Immediately after, He arose and left the gathering."[1]

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

The Nizamu'l-'Ulama' was sorely displeased at the manner in which the meeting had been conducted. "How shameful," he was heard to exclaim later, "is the discourtesy of the people of Tabriz! What could possibly be the connection between these idle remarks and the consideration of such weighty, such momentous issues?" A few others were likewise <p320> inclined to denounce the disgraceful treatment meted out to the Bab on that occasion. Mulla Muhammad-i-Mamaqani, however, persisted in his vehement denunciations. "I warn you," he loudly protested, "if you allow this youth to pursue unhampered the course of his activities, the day will come when the entire population of Tabriz will have flocked to his standard. Should he, when that day arrives, signify his wish that all the ulamas of Tabriz, that the Vali-'Ahd himself, should be expelled from the city and that he should alone assume the reins of civil and ecclesiastical authority, no one of you, who now view with apathy his cause, will feel able to oppose him effectually. The entire city, nay the whole province of Adhirbayjan, will on that day unanimously support him."

The persistent denunciations of that evil plotter excited the apprehensions of the authorities of Tabriz. Those who held the reins of power in their grasp took counsel together as to the most effective measures to be taken to resist the progress of His Faith. Some urged that in view of the marked disrespect which the Bab had shown to the Vali-'Ahd in occupying his seat without his leave, and because of His failure to obtain the consent of the chairman of that gathering when He arose to depart, He should be summoned again to a like gathering and should receive from the hands of its members a humiliating punishment. Nasiri'd-Din Mirza, however, refused to entertain this proposal. Finally it was decided that the Bab should be brought to the home of Mirza Ali-Asghar, who was both the Shaykhu'l-Islam of Tabriz and a siyyid, and should receive at the hands of the governor's bodyguard the chastisement which He deserved. The guard refused to accede to this request, preferring not to interfere in a matter which they regarded as the sole concern of the ulamas of the city. The Shaykhu'l-Islam himself decided to inflict the punishment. He summoned the Bab to his home, and with his hand eleven times applied the rods to His feet.[1]

[1 The following is Dr. Cormick's account of his personal impressions of Mirza Ali-Muhammad the Bab, extracted from letters written by him to the Rev. Benjamin Labaree, D.D. (Dr. Cormick was an English physician long resident in Tabriz, where he was highly respected. The document was communicated to Professor E. G. Browne of Cambridge University, by Mr. W. A. Shedd, who wrote concerning it, in a letter dated March 1, 1911: "Dear Professor Browne, In going over papers of my father (the late Rev. J. H. Shedd, D.D., of the American Mission at Urumiyyih, Persia, of the same mission as Dr. Benjamin Labaree), I found something which I think may be of value from a historical point of view. I have no books here, nor are any accessible here, to be certain whether this bit of testimony has been used or not. I think probably not, and I am sure that I can do nothing better than send them to you, with the wish that you may use them as you think best. Of the authenticity of the papers there can be no doubt.") "You ask me for some particulars of my interview with the founder of the sect known as Babis. Nothing of any importance transpired in this interview, as the Bab was aware of my having been sent with two other Persian doctors to see whether he was of sane mind or merely a madman, to decide the question whether to put him to death or not. With this knowledge he was loth to answer any questions put to him. To all enquiries he merely regarded us with a mild look, chanting in a low melodious voice some hymns, I suppose. Two other Siyyids, his intimate friends, were also present, who subsequently were put to death with him, besides a couple of government officials. He only once deigned to answer me, on my saying that I was not a Musulman and was willing to know something about his religion, as I might perhaps be inclined to adopt it. He regarded me very intently on my saying this, and replied that he had no doubt of all Europeans coming over to his religion. Our report to the Shah at that time was of a nature to spare his life. He was put to death some time after by the order of the Amir-Nizam Mirza Taqi Khan. On our report he merely got the bastinado, in which operation a farrash, whether intentionally or not, struck him across the face with the stick destined for his feet, which produced a great wound and swelling of the face. On being asked whether a Persian surgeon should be brought to treat him, he expressed a desire that I should be sent for, and I accordingly treated him for a few days, but in the interviews consequent on this I could never get him to have a confidential chat with me, as some government people were always present, he being a prisoner. He was very thankful for my attentions to him. He was a very mild and delicate-looking man, rather small in stature and very fair for a Persian, with a melodious soft voice, which struck me much. Being a Siyyid, he was dressed in the habit of that sect, as were also his two companions. In fact his whole look and deportment went far to dispose on 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 to his prison, reading the Bible, and he took no pains to conceal it, but on the contrary told them of it. Most assuredly the Mussulman fanaticism does not exist in his religion, as applied to Christians, nor is there that restraint of females that now exists." In connection with this document, Professor Browne writes as follows: "The first of these two documents is very valuable as giving the personal impression produced by the Bab, during the period of his imprisonment and suffering, on a cultivated and impartial Western mind. Very few Western Christians can have had the opportunity of seeing, still less of conversing with, the Bab, and I do not know of any other who has recorded his impressions." (E. G. Browne's Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion," pp. 260-62, 264.)] <p321>

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 recognized by the people of Tabriz. Notoriously cruel and sordid, he was feared and despised by the people who groaned under his yoke and prayed for deliverance. The abject circumstances of his death reminded both his friends and his opponents of the punishment which must necessarily await those whom neither the fear of God nor the voice of conscience can deter from behaving with such perfidious cruelty towards their fellow men. After his death the functions of the Shaykhu'l-Islam were abolished in Tabriz. Such was his infamy that the very name of the institution with which he had been associated came to be abhorred by the people.

And yet his behaviour, base and treacherous as it was, was only one instance of the villainous conduct which characterised the attitude of the ecclesiastical leaders among his countrymen towards the Bab. How far and how grievously have these erred from the path of fairness and justice! How contemptuously have they cast away the counsels of the Prophet of God and the admonitions of the imams of the Faith! Have not these explicitly declared that "should a <p322> Youth from Bani-Hashim [1] be made manifest and summon the people to a new Book and to new laws, all should hasten to Him and embrace His Cause"? Although these same imams have clearly stated that "most of His enemies shall be the ulamas," yet these blind and ignoble people have chosen to follow the example of their leaders and to regard their conduct as the pattern of righteousness and justice. They walk in their footsteps, implicitly obey their orders, and deem themselves the "people of salvation," the "chosen of God," and the "custodians of His Truth."

[1 Hashim was the great-grandfather of Muhammad.]

From Tabriz the Bab was taken back to Chihriq, where He was again entrusted to the keeping of Yahya Khan. His persecutors had fondly imagined that by summoning Him to their presence they would, through threats and intimidation, induce Him to abandon His Mission. That gathering enabled the Bab to set forth emphatically, in the presence of the most illustrious dignitaries assembled in the capital of Adhirbayjan, the distinguishing features of His claim, and to confute, in brief and convincing language, the arguments of His adversaries. The news of that momentous declaration, fraught with such far-reaching consequences, spread rapidly throughout Persia and stirred again more deeply the feelings of the disciples of the Bab. It reanimated their zeal, reinforced their position, and was a signal for the tremendous happenings that were soon to convulse that land. <p323>

No sooner had the Bab returned to Chihriq than He wrote in bold and moving language a denunciation of the character and action of Haji Mirza Aqasi. In the opening passages of that epistle, which was given the name of the Khutbiy-i-Qahriyyih,[1] the Author addresses the Grand Vazir of Muhammad Shah in these terms: "O thou who hast disbelieved in God and hast turned thy face away from His signs!" That lengthy epistle was forwarded to Hujjat, who, in those days, was confined in Tihran. He was instructed to deliver it in person to Haji Mirza Aqasi.

[1 Literally "Sermon of Wrath."]

I was privileged to hear the following account from the lips of Baha'u'llah while in the prison-city of Akka: "Mulla Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Zanjani, soon after he had delivered that Tablet to Haji Mirza Aqasi, came and visited me. I was in the company of Mirza Masih-i-Nuri and a number of other believers when he arrived. He recounted the circumstances attending the delivery of the Tablet, and recited before us the entire text, which was about three pages in length, and which he had committed to memory." The tone of Baha'u'llah's reference to Hujjat indicated how greatly pleased He was with the purity and nobleness of his life, and how much He admired his undaunted courage, his indomitable will, his unworldliness, and his unwavering constancy.<p324>




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

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

Mulla Husayn was still in Mashhad when a messenger arrived bearing to him the Bab's turban and conveying the news that a new name, that of Siyyid Ali, had been conferred upon him by his Master. "Adorn your head," was the message, "with My green turban, the emblem of My lineage, and, with the Black Standard [1] unfurled before you, <p325> hasten to the Jaziriy-i-Khadra',[1] and lend your assistance to My beloved Quddus."

[1 Refer to p. 351.]

[2 Literally "Verdant Isle."]

As soon as that message reached him, Mulla Husayn arose to execute the wishes of his Master. Leaving Mashhad for a place situated at a farsang's [1] distance from the city, he hoisted the Black Standard, placed the turban of the Bab upon his head, assembled his companions, mounted his steed, and gave the signal for their march to the Jaziriy-i-Khadra'. His companions, who were two hundred and two in number, enthusiastically followed him. That memorable day was the nineteenth of Sha'ban, in the year 1264 A.H.[2] Wherever they tarried, at every village and hamlet through which they passed, Mulla Husayn and his fellow-disciples would fearlessly proclaim the message of the New Day, would invite the people to embrace its truth, and would select from among those who responded to their call a few whom they would ask to join them on their journey.

[1 Refer to Glossary.]

[2 July 21, 1848 A.D.]

In the town of Nishapur, Haji Abdu'l-Majid, the father of Badi',[1] who was a merchant of note, enlisted under the banner of Mulla Husayn. Though his father enjoyed an unrivalled prestige as the owner of the best-known turquoise mine of Nishapur, he, forsaking all the honours and material benefits that his native town had conferred upon him, pledged his undivided loyalty to Mulla Husayn. In the village of Miyamay, thirty among its inhabitants declared their faith <p326> and joined that company. All of them with the exception of Mulla Isa, fell martyrs in the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi.[2]

[1 Bearer of Baha'u'llah's Tablet to Nasiri'd-Din Shah.]

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

Arriving at Chashmih-'Ali, a place situated near the town of Damghan and on the highroad to Mazindaran, Mulla Husayn decided to break his journey and to tarry there for a few days. He encamped under the shadow of a big tree, by the side of a running stream. "We stand at the parting of the ways," he told his companions. "We shall await His decree as to which direction we should take." Towards the end of the month of Shavval,[1] a fierce gale arose and struck down a large branch of that tree; whereupon Mulla Husayn observed: "The tree of the sovereignty of Muhammad Shah has, by the will of God, been uprooted and hurled to the ground." On the third day after he had uttered that prediction, a messenger, who was on his way to Mashhad, arrived from Tihran and reported the death of his sovereign. [2] The following day, the company determined to leave for Mazindaran. As their leader arose to depart, he pointed in the direction of Mazindaran and said: "This is the way that leads to our Karbila. Whoever is unprepared for the great trials that lie before us, let him now repair to his home and give up the journey." He several times repeated that warning, and, as he approached Savad-Kuh, explicitly declared: "I, together with seventy-two of my companions, shall suffer death for the sake of the Well-Beloved. Whoso is unable to renounce the world, let him now at this very moment, depart, for later on he will be unable to escape." Twenty of his companions chose to return, feeling themselves powerless to withstand the trials to which their chief continually alluded.

[1 August 31-September 29, 1848 A.D.] [2Muhammad Shah died on the eve of the sixth of Shavval (September 4, 1848 A.D.). "There was an interregnum of about two months. A provisional government was formed comprising four administrators under the presidency of the widow of the deceased Shah. Finally after much hesitation, the lawful heir, the young Prince Nasiri'd-Din Mirza, governor of Adhirbayjan was permitted to ascend the throne." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 367.) <p327> <p328>

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

The entire congregation arose in response to his call. His passionate eloquence, the undisputed authority he exercised over them, and the dread of the loss of their own lives and property, combined to induce the inhabitants of that town to make every possible preparation for the coming <p329> encounter. They armed themselves with every weapon which they could either find or devise, and set out at break of day from the town of Barfurush, fully determined to face and slay the enemies of their Faith and to plunder their property.[1]

[1 "The minister [Mirza Taqi Khan] with the utmost arbitrariness, without receiving any instructions or asking permission, sent forth commands in all directions to punish and chastise the Babi's. 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 Bab's teachings, and did not recognize 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 Bab was, moreover, closed, and the flame of trouble visibly blazing on every side. At the decree of the most celebrated of the 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 these 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." ("Traveller's Narrative," pp. 34-5.)]

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

At a farsang's [1] distance from Barfurush, Mulla Husayn and his companions encountered their enemies. A multitude of people, fully equipped with arms and ammunition, had gathered, and blocked their way. A fierce expression of savagery rested upon their countenances, and the foulest <p330> imprecations fell unceasingly from their lips. The companions, in the face of the uproar of this angry populace, made as if to unsheathe their swords. "Not yet," commanded their leader; "not until the aggressor forces us to protect ourselves must our swords leave their scabbards." He had scarcely uttered these words when the fire of the enemy was directed against them. Six of the companions were immediately hurled to the ground. "Beloved leader," exclaimed one of them, "we have risen and followed you with no desire except to sacrifice ourselves in the path of the Cause we have embraced. Allow us, we pray you, to defend ourselves, and suffer us not to fall so disgracefully a victim to the fire of the enemy." "The time is not yet come," replied Mulla Husayn; "the number is as yet incomplete." A bullet immediately after pierced the breast of one of his companions, a siyyid from Yazd [2] who had walked all the way from Mashhad to that place, and who ranked among his staunchest supporters. At the sight of that devoted companion fallen dead at his feet, Mulla Husayn raised his eyes to heaven and prayed: "Behold, O God, my God, the plight of Thy chosen companions, and witness the welcome which these people have accorded Thy loved ones. Thou knowest that we cherish no other desire than to guide them to the way of Truth and to confer upon them the knowledge of Thy Revelation. Thou hast Thyself commanded us to defend our lives against the assaults of the enemy. Faithful to Thy command, I now arise with my companions to resist the attack which they have launched against us." [3]

[1 See Glossary.]

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

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

Unsheathing his sword and spurring on his charger into the midst of the enemy, Mulla Husayn pursued, with marvellous intrepidity, the assailant of his fallen companion. His opponent, who was afraid to face him, took refuge behind a tree and, holding aloft his musket, sought to shield himself. Mulla Husayn immediately recognized him, rushed <p331> 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.[1] The astounding force of that stroke confounded the enemy and paralysed their efforts. All fled panic-stricken in the face of so extraordinary a manifestation of skill, of strength, and of courage. This feat was the first of its kind to attest to the prowess and heroism of Mulla Husayn, a feat which earned him the commendation of the Bab. Quddus likewise paid his tribute to the cool fearlessness which Mulla Husayn displayed on that occasion. He is reported to have quoted, when informed of the news, the following verse of the Qur'an: "So it was not ye who slew them, but God who slew them; and those shafts were God's, not thine! He would make trial of the faithful by a gracious trial from Himself: verily, God heareth, knoweth. This befell, that God might also bring to naught the craft of the infidels."

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

I myself, when in Tihran, in the year 1265 A.H.,[1] a month after the conclusion of the memorable struggle of Shaykh Tabarsi, heard Mirza Ahmad relate the circumstances of this incident in the presence of a number of believers, among whom were Mirza Muhammad-Husayn-i-Hakamiy-i-Kirmani, Haji Mulla Isma'il-i-Farahani, Mirza Habibu'llah-i-Isfahani, and Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahani.

[1 1848-9 A.D. ]

When, at a later time, I visited Khurasan and was staying at the home of Mulla Sadiq-i-Khurasani in Mashhad, where I had been invited to teach the Cause, I asked Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi, <p332> in the presence of a number of believers, among whom were Nabil-i-Akbar and the father of Badi', to enlighten me regarding the true character of that amazing report. Mirza Muhammad emphatically declared: "I myself was a witness to this act of Mulla Husayn. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it." In this connection, the same Mirza Muhammad related to us the following story: "After the engagement of Vas-Kas, when Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza was completely routed, and had fled barefooted from the face of the companions of the Bab, the Amir-Nizam [1] severely rebuked him. 'I have charged you,' he wrote him, 'with the mission of subduing a handful of young and contemptible students. I have placed at your disposal the army of the Shah, and yet you have allowed it to suffer such a disgraceful defeat. What would have befallen you, I wonder, had I entrusted you with the mission of defeating the combined forces of the Russian and Ottoman governments?' The prince thought it best to entrust a messenger with the fragments of the barrel of that same rifle which was cleft in twain by the sword of Mulla Husayn, and to instruct him to present them, in person, to the Amir-Nizam. 'Such is,' was his message to the Amir, 'the contemptible strength of an adversary who, with a single stroke of his sword, has shattered into six pieces the tree, the musket, and its holder.'

[1 Mirza Taqi Khan, I'timadu'd-Dawlih, Grand Vazir and successor to Haji Mirza Aqasi. The following reference is made to him in "A Traveller's Narrative" (pp. 32-3): "Mirza Taqi Khan Amir-Nizam, who was Prime Minister and Chief Regent, seized in the grasp of his despotic power the reins of the affairs of the commonwealth, and urged the steed of his ambition into the arena of wilfulness and sole possession. The minister was a person devoid of experience and wanting in consideration for the consequences of actions; bloodthirsty and shameless; and swift and ready to shed blood. Severity in punishing he regarded as wise administration, and harshly entreating, distressing, intimidating, and frightening the people he considered as a fulcrum for the advancement of the monarchy. And as His Majesty the King was in the prime of youthful years the minister fell into strange fancies and sounded the drum of absolutism in (the conduct of) affairs: on his own decisive resolution, without seeking permission from the Royal Presence or taking counsel with prudent statesmen, he issued orders to persecute the Babis, imagining that by overweening force he could eradicate and suppress matters of this nature, and that harshness would bear good fruit; whereas (in fact) to interfere with matters of conscience is simply to give them greater currency and strength; the more you strive to extinguish, the more will the name be kindled, more specially in matters of faith and religion, which spread and acquire influence so soon as blood is shed, and strongly affect men's hearts."]

"So convincing a testimony of the strength of his opponent constituted, in the eyes of the Amir-Nizam, a challenge <p333> which no man of his position and authority could afford to ignore. He resolved to curb the power which, by so daring an act, had sought to assert itself against his forces. Unable, in spite of the overwhelming number of his men, to defeat Mulla Husayn and his companions fairly and honourably, he meanly resorted to treachery and fraud as instruments for the attainment of his purpose. He ordered the prince to affix his seal to the Qur'an and pledge the honour of his officers that they would henceforth abstain from any act of hostility towards the occupants of the fort. By this means he was able to induce them to lay down their arms, and to inflict upon his defenceless opponents a crushing and inglorious defeat."

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

I ventured to ask Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi whether he was aware that in the "Nasikhu't-Tavarikh" mention had been made of the fact that Mulla Husayn had, in his early youth, been instructed in the art of swordsmanship, that he had acquired his proficiency only after a considerable period of training. "This is sheer fabrication," affirmed Mulla Muhammad. "I have known him from his childhood, and have been associated with him, as a classmate and friend, for a long time. I have never known him to be possessed of such strength and power. I even deem myself superior in vigour and bodily endurance. His hand trembled as he wrote, and he often expressed his inability to write as fully and as frequently as he wished. He was greatly handicapped in this respect, and he continued to suffer from its effects until his journey to Mazindaran. The moment he unsheathed <p334> his sword, however, to repulse that savage attack, a mysterious power seemed to have suddenly transformed him. In all subsequent encounters, he was seen to be the first to spring forward and spur on his charger into the camp of the aggressor. Unaided, he would face and fight the combined forces of his opponents and would himself achieve the victory. We, who followed him in the rear, had to content ourselves with those who had already been disabled and were weakened by the blows they had sustained. His name alone was sufficient to strike terror into the hearts of his adversaries. They fled at mention of him; they trembled at his approach. Even those who were his constant companions were mute with wonder before him. We were stunned by the display of his stupendous force, his indomitable will and complete intrepidity. We were all convinced that he had ceased to be the Mulla Husayn whom we had known, and that in him resided a spirit which God alone could bestow."

This same Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi related to me the following: "Mulla Husayn had no sooner dealt his memorable blow to his adversary than he disappeared from our sight. We knew not whither he had gone. His attendant, Qambar-'Ali, alone could follow him. He subsequently informed us that his master threw himself headlong upon his enemies, and was able with a single stroke of his sword to strike down each of those who dared assail him. Unmindful of the bullets that rained upon him, he forced his way through the ranks of the enemy and headed for Barfurush. He rode straight to the residence of the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama', thrice made the circuit of his house, and cried out: 'Let that contemptible <p335> <p336> coward, who has incited the inhabitants of this town to wage holy warfare against us and has ignominiously concealed himself behind the walls of his house, emerge from his inglorious retreat. Let him, by his example, demonstrate the sincerity of his appeal and the righteousness of his cause. Has he forgotten that he who preaches a holy war must needs himself march at the head of his followers, and by his own deeds kindle their devotion and sustain their enthusiasm?'"

The voice of Mulla Husayn drowned the clamour of the multitude. The inhabitants of Barfurush surrendered and soon raised the cry, "Peace, peace!" No sooner had the voice of surrender been raised than the acclamations of the followers of Mulla Husayn, who at that moment were seen galloping towards Barfurush, were heard from every side. The cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!"[1] which they shouted at the top of their voices, struck dismay into the hearts of those who heard it. The companions of Mulla Husayn, who had abandoned the hope of again finding him alive, were greatly surprised when they saw him seated erect upon his horse, unhurt and unaffected by the fierceness of that onset. Each reverently approached him and kissed his stirrups.

[1 See Glossary.]

On the afternoon of that day, the peace which the inhabitants of Barfurush had implored was granted. To the crowd which had gathered about him, Mulla Husayn spoke these words: "O followers of the Prophet of God, and shi'ahs of the imams of His Faith! Why have you risen against us? Why deem the shedding of our blood an act meritorious in the sight of God? Did we ever repudiate the truth of your Faith? Is this the hospitality which the Apostle of God has enjoined His followers to accord to both the faithful and the infidel? What have we done to merit such condemnation on your part? Consider: I alone, with no other weapon than my sword, have been able to face the rain of bullets which the inhabitants of Barfurush have poured upon me, and have emerged unscathed from the midst of the fire with which you have besieged me. Both my person and my horse have escaped unhurt from your overwhelming attack. Except for the slight scratch which I received on my face, you have <p337> been powerless to wound me. God has protected me and willed to establish in your eyes the ascendancy of His Faith."

Immediately afterwards, Mulla Husayn proceeded to the caravanserai of Sabzih-Maydan. He dismounted and, standing at the entrance of the inn, awaited the arrival of his companions. As soon as they had gathered and been accommodated in that place, he sent for bread and water. Those who had been commissioned to fetch them returned empty-handed, and informed him that they had been unable to procure either bread from the baker or water from the public square. "You have exhorted us," they told him, "to put our trust in God and to resign ourselves to His will. 'Nothing can befall us but what God hath destined for us. Our liege Lord is He; and on God let the faithful trust!'"[1]

[1 Qur'an, 9:52.]

Mulla Husayn ordered that the gates of the caravanserai be closed. Assembling his companions, he begged them to remain gathered in his presence until the hour of sunset. As the evening approached, he asked whether any among them would be willing to arise and, renouncing his life for the sake of his Faith, ascend to the roof of the caravanserai and sound the adhan.[1] A youth gladly responded. No sooner had the opening words of "Allah-u-Akbar" dropped from his lips than a bullet suddenly struck him and immediately caused his death. "Let another one among you arise," <p338> Mulla Husayn urged them, "and, with the selfsame renunciation, proceed with the prayer which that youth was unable to finish." Another youth started to his feet, and had no sooner uttered the words, "I bear witness that Muhammad is the Apostle of God," than he also was struck down by another bullet from the enemy. A third youth, at the bidding of his chief, attempted to complete the prayer which his martyred companions had been forced to leave unfinished. He, too, suffered the same fate. As he was approaching the end of his prayer, and was uttering the words, "There is no God but God," he, in his turn, fell dead.

[1 "'The Babu'l-Bab,' says our author, 'wishing to fulfill a religious duty and at the same time to give an example of the firm conviction of the believers, of their contempt for life, and to show the world the impiety and irreligion of the so called Mussulmans, commanded one of his followers to ascend the terrace and intone the adhan.'" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 295-6.) "It was at Marand," writes Lady Sheil, "that I first heard the adhan, or call of the Muslims to prayer, so solemn and impressive, specially when well chanted, for it is in fact a chant.... He turned towards Mecca, and placing his open hands to his head, proclaimed with a loud sonorous voice, 'Allah-u-Akbar,' which he repeated four times; then 'Ashhad-u-an-la-ilah-a-illa'llah' (I bear witness there is no God but God), twice; then 'Ashhad-u-inna-Muhammadan-Rasu'llah' --(I bear witness that Muhammad is the Prophet of God), twice; then 'I bear witness that Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, is the friend of God.'... The single toll in the knell for transporting the dead to their last earthly abode arouses, perhaps from association, ideas of profound solemnity; so too does the trumpet echoing through the camp when it ushers the dragoon to his grave; but above both, in solemn awe, is the keening as it sweeps afar over the dales and hills of Munster, announcing that a Gael has been gathered to his fathers. The adhan excites a different impression. It raises in the mind a combination of feelings, of dignity, solemnity, and devotion, compared with which the din of bells becomes insignificant. It is an imposing thing to hear in the dead of the night the first sounds of the mu'adhdhin proclaiming 'Allah-u-Akbar--Mighty is the Lord--I bear witness there is no God but God!' St. Peter's and St. Paul's together can produce nothing equal to it." ("Glimpses of Life and Manners in Persia," pp. 84, 85.)]

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

So startling a victory [1] induced a number of the nobles and chiefs of the people to intervene and beseech the mercy of Mulla Husayn on behalf of their fellow-citizens. They came on foot to submit to him their petition. "God is our witness," they pleaded, "that we harbour no intention but <p339> that of establishing peace and reconciliation between us. Remain seated on your charger for a while, until we have explained our motive." Observing the earnestness of their appeal, Mulla Husayn dismounted and invited them to join him in the caravanserai. "We, unlike the people of this town, know how to receive the stranger in our midst," he said, as he invited them to be seated beside him and ordered that they be served with tea. "The Sa'idu'l-'Ulama'," they replied, "was alone responsible for having kindled the fire of so much mischief. The people of Barfurush should in no wise 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 Amul. Barfurush is in the throes of great excitement; we fear lest they may again be instigated to attack you." Mulla Husayn, though hinting at the insincerity of the people, consented to their proposal; whereupon Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani [2] and Haji Mustafa Khan arose together and, swearing by the Qur'an which they had brought with them, solemnly declared their intention to regard them as their guests that night, and the following day to instruct Khusraw-i-Qadi-Kala'i [3] and a hundred horsemen to ensure their safe passage through Shir-Gah. "The malediction of God and His Prophets be upon us, both in this world and <p340> in the next," they added, "if we ever allow the slightest injury to be inflicted upon you and your party."

[1 "Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' wishing to have done at any cost, gathered together as many people as he could and again began the attack in front of the caravansary. The struggle had been waging from five to six days when Abbas-Quli Khan Sardar-i-Larijani appeared. In the meantime, and since the outbreak of the conflict, the Ulamas of Barfurush exasperated by the numerous conversions which Quddus had been able to make in the city (three hundred in a week, the Muhammadan historians admit reluctantly), referred the case to the governor of the province, Prince Khanlan Mirza. He, however, paid no attention to their grievances, having many other preoccupations. "The death of Muhammad Shah worried him much more than the wrangling of the Mullas and he made ready to go to Tihran to pay homage to the new king, whose favor he hoped to win. "Having failed in this attempt, under the pressure of events, the Ulamas wrote a very urgent letter to the military chief of the province, Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani. He however, thinking it unnecessary to trouble himself, sent Muhammad Bik, Yavar (captain), at the head of three hundred men, to restore order. Thus it was that the Muhammadans began to attack the caravansary. The struggle went on, but if ten Babis were killed, an infinitely larger number of aggressors bit the dust. As things continued to drag along, Abbas-Quli Khan felt he should come himself in order to size up the situation." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 296-297.)]

[2 Gobineau describes him in the following terms: "The Turkish and Persian nomads pass their lives in hunting, often also in fighting and above all in talking of the hunt and of war. They are brave but not always and they are well described by Brant to me who, in his war experience had often encountered that type of bravery which he called 'one day courage.' But this is what they are in a very regular and consistent manner, great talkers, great wreckers of towns, great assassins of heroes, great exterminators of multitudes, in a word, naive, very outspoken in their sentiments, very violent in the expression of anything which arouses them and extremely amusing. Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani although well born, was a perfect type of nomad." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 171.)]

[3 A notorious scoundrel who often rebelled against the government.]

As soon as they had made their declaration, their friends who had gone to fetch food for the companions and fodder for their horses, arrived. Mulla Husayn bade his fellow-believers break their fast, inasmuch as none of them that day, which was Friday, the twelfth of the month of Dhi'l-Qa'dih,[1] 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.

[1 October 10, 1848 A.D.]

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

At the hour of sunrise, Abbas-Quli Khan asked that Khusraw be conducted into his presence, and bade him exercise the utmost consideration towards Mulla Husayn and his companions, to ensure their safe passage through Shir-Gah, and to refuse whatever rewards they might wish to offer him. <p341> Khusraw feigned submission to these instructions and assured him that neither he nor his horsemen would relax in their vigilance or flinch in their devotion to them. "On our return," he added, "we shall show you his own written expression of satisfaction with the services we shall have rendered him."

When Khusraw was taken by Abbas-Quli Khan and Haji Mustafa Khan and other representative leaders of Barfurush into the presence of Mulla Husayn and was introduced to him, the latter remarked: "'If ye do well, it will redound to your own advantage; and if ye do evil, the evil will return upon you."[1] 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."

[1 Qur'an, 17:7.]

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

As soon as they had penetrated it, he gave the signal for attack. His men fiercely threw themselves upon the companions, seized their property, killed a number, among whom was the brother of Mulla Sadiq, and captured the rest. As soon as the cry of agony and distress reached his ears, Mulla Husayn halted, and, alighting from his horse, protested against Khusraw's treacherous behaviour. "The hour of midday is long past," he told him; "we still have not attained <p342> our destination. I refuse to proceed further with you; I can dispense with your guidance and company and that of your men." Turning to Qambar-'Ali, he asked him to spread his prayer-mat, that he might offer his devotions. He was performing his ablutions, when Khusraw, who had also dismounted, called one of his attendants and bade him inform Mulla Husayn that if he wished to reach his destination safely, he should deliver to him both his sword and his horse. Refusing to give a reply, Mulla Husayn proceeded to offer his prayer. Shortly after, Mirza Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Juvayniy-i-Sabzivari, a man of literary accomplishments and fearless courage, went to an attendant who was preparing the qulayn,[1] and requested him to allow him to take it in person to Khusraw; a request that was readily granted. Mirza Muhammad-Taqi was bending to kindle the fire of the 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.[2]

[1 See Glossary.]

[2 According to "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 36), it was Mirza Lutf-'Ali,the secretary who drew his dagger and stabbed Khusraw.]

Mulla Husayn was still in the act of prayer when the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman"[1] 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 Mulla Husayn and implored his aid. He was given the bejewelled qulayn which belonged to his master and was bidden to return to Barfurush and recount to Abbas-Quli Khan all that he had witnessed. "Tell him," said Mulla Husayn, "how faithfully Khusraw discharged his mission. That false miscreant foolishly imagined that my mission had come to an end, that both my sword and my horse had fulfilled their function. Little did he know that their work had but just begun, that until the services which they can render are entirely accomplished, neither his power nor the power of any man beside him can wrest them from me."

[1 See Glossary.]

As the night was approaching, the party decided to tarry in that spot until the hour of dawn. At daybreak, after Mulla Husayn had offered his prayer, he gathered his companions <p343> together and said: "We are approaching our Karbila, our ultimate destination." Immediately after, he set out on foot towards that spot, and was followed by his companions. Finding that a few were attempting to carry with them the belongings of Khusraw and of his men, he ordered them to leave everything behind except their swords and horses. "It behoves you," he urged them, "to arrive at that hallowed spot in a state of complete detachment, wholly sanctified from all that pertains to this world."[1] He had walked the distance of a maydan [2] when he arrived at the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi.[3] The Shaykh had been one of the transmitters of the traditions ascribed to the imams of the Faith, and his burial-place was visited by the people of the neighbourhood. On reaching that spot, he recited the following verse of the Qur'an: "O <p344> my Lord, bless Thou my arrival at this place, for Thou alone canst vouchsafe such blessings."

[1 "Then turning to his companions he said: 'During these few days of life which remain to us, let us beware not to be divided and estranged by perishable riches. Let all this be held in common and let everyone share in its benefits.' The Babis agreed with joy and it is this marvellous spirit of self-sacrifice and this complete self-abnegation which made their enemies say that they advocated collective ownership in earthly goods and even women!" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 299.)]

[2 See Glossary.]

[3 Shrine of Shaykh Ahmad-ibn-i-Abi-Talib-i-Tabarsi, situated about fourteen miles S.E. of Barfurush. Professor Browne, of Cambridge University, visited the spot on September 26, 1888, and saw the name of the buried saint inscribed on a tablet with the form of words used for his "visitation," the tablet hanging suspended from the railings surrounding the tomb. "It consists at present," he writes, "of a flat, grassy enclosure surrounded by a hedge and containing, besides the buildings of the shrine and another building at the gateway (opposite to which, but outside the enclosure, stands the house of the mutavalli, or custodian of the shrine), nothing but two or three orange trees and a few rude graves covered with flat stones, the last resting places, perhaps, of some of the Babi defenders. The building at the gateway is two storeys high, is traversed by the passage giving access to the enclosure, and is roofed with tiles. The buildings of the shrine, which stand at the farther end of the enclosure, are rather more elaborate. Their greatest length (about 20 paces) lies east and west; their breadth is about ten paces; and, besides the covered portico at the entrance they contain two rooms scantily lighted by wooden gratings over the doors. The tomb of the Shaykh, from whom the place takes its name, stands surrounded by wooden railings in the centre of the inner room, to which access is obtained either by a door communicating with the outer chamber, or by a door opening externally into the enclosure." (For plans and sketches, see the author's translation of the "Tarikh-i-Jadid.") (E. G. Browne's "A Year Amongst the Persians," p. 565.)]

The night preceding their arrival, the guardian of the shrine dreamed that the Siyyidu'sh-Shuhada', the Imam Husayn, had arrived at Shaykh Tabarsi, accompanied by no less than seventy-two warriors and a large number 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 Mulla Husayn arrived on the following day, the guardian immediately recognized him as the hero he had seen in his vision, threw himself at his feet, and kissed them devoutly. Mulla Husayn invited him to be seated by his side, and heard him relate his story. "All that you <p345> have witnessed," he assured the keeper of the shrine, "will come to pass. Those glorious scenes will again be enacted before your eyes." That servant threw in his lot eventually with the heroic defenders of the fort and fell a martyr within its walls.

On the very day of their arrival, which was the fourteenth of Dhi'l-Qa'dih,[1] Mulla Husayn gave Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, who had built the Babiyyih, the preliminary instructions regarding the design of the fort which was to be constructed for their defence. Towards the evening of the same day, they found themselves suddenly encompassed by an irregular multitude of horsemen who had emerged from the forest and were preparing to open fire upon them. "We are of the inhabitants of Qadi-Kala," they shouted. "We come to avenge the blood of Khusraw. Not until we have put you all to the sword shall we be satisfied." Besieged by a savage crowd ready to pounce upon them, the party had to draw <p346> their swords again in self-defence. Raising the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman," they leaped forward, repulsed the assailants, and put them to flight. So tremendous was the shout, that the horsemen vanished as suddenly as they had appeared. Mirza Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Juvayni had, at his own request, assumed the command of that encounter.

[1 October 12, 1848 A.D.]

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

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

At the hour of dawn, Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, accompanied by Nazar Khan, arrived at the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi, and found Mulla Husayn leading the congregational prayer. Such was the rapture that glowed upon his countenance <p347> that Nazar Khan felt an irresistible impulse to join the worshippers and to repeat the very prayers that were then falling from their lips. After the completion of that prayer, Mulla Husayn was informed of the loss which Nazar Khan had sustained. He expressed in the most touching language the sympathy which he and the entire company of his fellow-disciples felt for him in his great bereavement. "God knows," he assured him, "that our sole intention was to protect our lives rather than disturb the peace of the neighbourhood." Mulla Husayn then proceeded to relate the circumstances that had led to the attack directed against them by the people of Barfurush, and explained the treacherous conduct of Khusraw. He again assured him of the sorrow which the death of his mother had caused him. "Afflict not your heart," Nazar Khan spontaneously replied. "Would that a hundred sons had been given me, all of whom I would have joyously placed at your feet and offered as a sacrifice to the Sahibu'z-Zaman!" He pledged, that very moment, his undying loyalty to Mulla Husayn, and hastened back to his village in order to return with whatever provisions might be required for the party.

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

The work had scarcely been completed when Shaykh Abu-Turab arrived bearing the news of Baha'u'llah's arrival at the village of Nazar Khan. He informed Mulla Husayn <p348> that he had been specially commanded by Baha'u'llah to inform them that they all were to be His guests that night and that He Himself would join them that same afternoon. I have heard Mulla Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi recount the following: "The tidings which Shaykh Abu-Turab brought imparted an indefinable joy to the heart or Mulla Husayn. He hastened immediately to his companions and bade them bestir themselves for the reception of Baha'u'llah. He himself joined them in sweeping and sprinkling with water the approaches to the shrine, and attended in person to whatever was necessary for the arrival of the beloved Visitor. As soon as he saw Him approaching with Nazar Khan, he rushed forward, tenderly embraced Him, and conducted Him to the place of honour which he had reserved for His reception. We were too blind in those days to recognize the glory of Him whom our leader had introduced with such reverence and love into our midst. What Mulla Husayn had perceived, our <p349> dull vision was as yet unable to recognize. With what solicitude he received Him in his arms! What feelings of rapturous delight filled his heart on seeing Him! He was so lost in admiration that he was utterly oblivious of us all. His soul was so wrapt in contemplation of that countenance that we who were awaiting his permission to be seated were kept standing a long time beside him. It was Baha'u'llah Himself who finally bade us be seated. We, too, were soon made to feel, however inadequately, the charm of His utterance, though none of us were even dimly aware of the infinite potency latent in His words.

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

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

Mulla Husayn set out immediately to carry out the instructions he had received. Summoning Mulla Mihdi, he bade him proceed together with six other companions to Sari and ask that the mujtahid liberate his prisoner. As soon as the message was conveyed to him, Mirza Muhammad-Taqi <p350> unconditionally acceded to their request. The potency with which that message had been endowed seemed to have completely disarmed him. "I have regarded him," he hastened to assure the messengers, "only as an honoured guest in my house. It would be unbecoming of me to pretend to have dismissed or released him. He is at liberty to do as he desires. Should he wish it, I would be willing to accompany him."

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

The incarceration of Quddus in the home of Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, <p351> Sari's most eminent mujtahid, to whom he was related, lasted five and ninety days. Though confined, Quddus was treated with marked deference, and was allowed to receive most of the companions who had been present at the gathering of Badasht. To none, however, did he grant permission to stay in Sari. Whoever visited him was urged, in the most pressing terms, to enlist under the Black Standard hoisted by Mulla Husayn. It was the same standard of which Muhammad, the Prophet of God, had thus spoken: "Should your eyes behold the Black Standards proceeding from Khurasan, hasten ye towards them, even though ye should have to crawl over the snow, inasmuch as they proclaim the advent of the promised Mihdi,[1] the Vicegerent of God." That standard was unfurled at the command of the Bab, in the name of Quddus, and by the hands of Mulla Husayn. It was carried aloft all the way from the city of Mashhad to the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi. For eleven months, from the beginning of Sha'ban in the year 1264 A.H.[2] to the end of Jamadiyu'th-Thani, in the year 1265 A.H.,[3] 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.

[1 See Glossary.]

[2 July 3-August 1, 1848 A.D.]

[3 April 24-May 23, 1849 A.D.]

While in Sari, Quddus frequently attempted to convince Mirza Muhammad-Taqi of the truth of the Divine Message. He freely conversed with him on the most weighty and outstanding issues related to the Revelation of the Bab. His bold and challenging remarks were couched in such gentle, such persuasive and courteous language, and delivered with such geniality and humour, that those who heard him felt not in the least offended. They even misconstrued his allusions to the sacred Book as humorous observations intended to entertain his hearers. Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, despite the cruelty and wickedness that were latent in him and which he subsequently manifested by the stand he took in insisting upon the extermination of the remnants of the defenders of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi, was withheld by an inner power from showing the least disrespect to Quddus while the latter was confined in his home. He even was prompted to prevent <p352> the inhabitants of Sari from offending Quddus, and was often heard to rebuke them for the harm which they desired to inflict upon him.

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

In this manner they reached the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi. The first words that fell from the lips of Quddus after he had dismounted and leaned against the shrine were the following: "The Baqiyyatu'llah [1] will be best for you if ye are of those who believe."[2] By this utterance was fulfilled the prophecy of Muhammad as recorded in the following tradition: "And when the Mihdi [3] is made manifest, He shall lean His back against the Ka'bih and shall address to the three hundred and thirteen followers who will have grouped around Him, these words: 'The Baqiyyatu'llah will be best for you if <p353> ye are of those who believe.'" By "Baqiyyatu'llah" Quddus meant none other than Baha'u'llah. To this testified Mulla Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi, who related to me the following: "I myself was present when Quddus alighted from his horse. I saw him lean against the shrine and heard him utter those same words. No sooner had he spoken them than he made mention of Baha'u'llah and, turning to Mulla Husayn, enquired about Him. He was informed that unless God decreed to the contrary, He had signified His intention to return to this place before the first day of Muharram.[4]

[1 Literally "Remnant of God."]

[2 Qur'an, 11:85.]

[3 See Glossary.]

[4 November 27, 1848 A.D.]

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

[1 Reference to the year 1280 A.H. (1863-4 A.D.), in which Baha'u'llah declared His Mission in Baghdad.]

"Many a night I saw Mulla Husayn circle round the shrine within the precincts of which Quddus lay asleep. How often did I see him emerge in the mid-watches of the night from his chamber and quietly direct his steps to that spot and whisper the same verse with which we all had greeted <p354> the arrival of the beloved visitor! With what feelings of emotion I can still remember him as he advanced towards me, in the stillness of those dark and lonely hours which I devoted to meditation and prayer, whispering in my ears these words: 'Banish from your mind, O Mulla Mirza Muhammad, these perplexing subtleties and, freed from their trammels, arise and seek with me to quaff the cup of martyrdom. Then will you be able to comprehend, as the year '80 [1]dawns upon the world, the secret of the things which now lie hidden from you.'"

Quddus, on his arrival at the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi, charged Mulla Husayn to ascertain the number of the assembled companions. One by one he counted them and passed them in through the gate of the fort: three hundred and twelve in all. He himself was entering the fort in order to acquaint Quddus with the result, when a youth, who had hastened all the way on foot from Barfurush, suddenly rushed in and seizing the hem of his garment, pleaded to be enrolled among the companions and to be allowed to lay down his life, whenever required, in the path of the Beloved. His wish was readily granted. When Quddus was informed of the total number of the companions, he remarked: "Whatever the tongue of the Prophet of God has spoken concerning the promised One must needs be fulfilled,[1] that thereby His testimony may be complete in the eyes of those divines who esteem themselves as the sole interpreters of the law and traditions of Islam. Through them will the people recognize the truth and acknowledge the fulfilment of these traditions."[2]

[1 The assembling of three hundred and thirteen chosen supporters of the imam in Taliqan of Khurasan is one of the signs that must needs herald the advent of the promised Qa'im. (E. G. Browne's "A History of Persian Literature in Modern Times" [A.D. 1500-1924], p. 399.)]

[2 Amongst them also was Rida Khan, the son of Muhammad Khan the Turkaman, Master of the Horse to his late Majesty Muhammad Shah. And he was a youth graceful of form, comely of face, endowed with all manner of talents and virtues, dignified, temperate gentle, generous, courageous, and manly. For the love and service of His Supreme Holiness he forsook both his post and his salary, and shut his eyes alike to rank and name, fame and shame, reproaches of friends and revilings of foes. At the first step he left behind him dignity, wealth, position, and all the power and consideration which he enjoyed, spent large sums of money (four or five thousand tumans at least) in the Cause, and repeatedly showed his readiness freely to lay down his life. One of these occasions was when His Supreme Holiness arrived at the village of Khanliq near Tihran, and, to try the fidelity of His followers, said: 'Were there but a few horsemen who would deliver Me from the bonds of the froward and their devices, it were not amiss.' On hearing these words, several tried and expert horsemen, fully equipped and armed, at once prepared to set out, and, pronouncing all that they had, hastily conveyed themselves before His Holiness. Amongst these were Mirza Qurban-'Ali, of Astaribad, and Rida Khan. When they were come before His Holiness, He smiled and said, "The mountain of Adhirbayjan has also a claim on Me,' and bade them turn back. After his return, Rida Khan devoted himself to the service of the friends of God, and his house was often the meeting place of the believers, amongst whom both Jinab-i-Quddus and Jinab-i-Babu'l-Bab were for a while his honoured guests. Indeed, he neither spared himself nor fell short in the service of any of this circle, but, notwithstanding his high position, strove with heart md soul to further the object of God's servants. When, for instance, Jinab-i-Quddus first began to preach the doctrine in Mazindaran, and the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama, being informed of this, made strenuous efforts to do him injury, Rida Khan at once hastened to Mazindaran, and, whenever Jinab-i-Quddus went forth from his house, used, in spite of his high position and the respect to which he was accustomed, to walk on foot before him with his drawn sword over his shoulder; seeing which, the malignants feared to take any liberty.... For some while, Rida Khan remained after this fashion in Mazindaran, until he accompanied Jinab-i-Quddus to Mashhad. On his return thence, he was present at the troubles at Badasht, where he performed the most valuable services, and was entrusted with the most important and delicate commissions. After the meeting at Badasht was dispersed, he fell ill, and, in company with Mirza Sulayman-Quli of Nur (a son of the late Shatir-bashi, also conspicuous for his virtues, learning, and devotion), came to Tihran. Rida Khan's illness lasted for some while, and on his recovery the siege of the castle of Tabarsi had already waxed grievous. He at once determined to go to the assistance of the garrison. Being, however, a man of mark and well known, he could not leave the capital without giving some plausible reason. He therefore pretended to repent his former course of action, and begged that he might be sent to take part in the war in Mazindaran, and thus make amends for the past. The king granted his request, and he was appointed to accompany the force proceeding under Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza against the castle. During the march thither he was continually saying to the prince, 'I will do this,' and 'I will do that', so that the prince came to entertain high hopes of him, and promised him a post commensurate with his services for till the day when battle was inevitable and peace no longer possible, he was ever foremost in the army and most active in ordering its affairs. But on the first day of battle he began to gallop his horse and practise other martial exercises, until, without having aroused suspicion, he suddenly gave it free rein and effected a junction with the Brethren of Purity. On arriving in their midst, he kissed the knee of Jinab-i-Quddus and prostrated himself before him in thankfulness. Then he once more returned to the battle-field, and began to revile and curse the prince, saying: 'Who is man enough to trample underfoot the pomp and circumstance of the world, free himself from the bonds of carnal lusts, and join himself, as I have done, to the saints of God? I, for my part, shall be satisfied with my head only when it falls stained with dust and blood in this plain.' Then, like a ravening lion, he rushed upon them with naked brand, and quitted himself so manfully that all the royalist officers were astonished, saying: 'Such valour must have been newly granted him from on high, or else a new spirit hath been breathed into his frame.' For it happened more than once that he cut down a gunner as he was in the very act of firing his gun, while so many of the chief officers of the royalist army fell by his hand that the prince and the other commanding officers desired more eagerly to revenge themselves on him than on any other of the Babis. Therefore, on the eve of the day appointed for Jinab-i-Quddus to surrender himself at the royalist camp, Rida Khan, knowing that because of the fierce hatred which they bore him they would slay him with the most cruel tortures, went by night to the quarters of an officer in the camp who was an old and faithful friend and comrade. After the massacre of the other Babis, search was made for Rida Khan, and he was at length discovered. The officer who had sheltered him proposed to ransom him for the sum of two thousand tumans in cash, but his proposal rejected, and though he offered to increase the sum, and strove earnestly to save his friend, it was of no avail, for the prince, because of the exceeding hatred he bore Rida Khan order him to be hewn in pieces." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 96-101.)] <p355>

Every morning and every afternoon during those days, Quddus would summon Mulla Husayn and the most distinguished among his companions and ask them to chant the writings of the Bab. Seated in the Maydan, the open square adjoining the fort, and surrounded by his devoted friends, he would listen intently to the utterances of his Master and would occasionally be heard to comment upon them. Neither the threats of the enemy nor the fierceness of their successive onsets could induce him to abate the fervour, or to break the regularity, of his devotions. Despising all danger and oblivious of his own needs and wants, he continued, even under the most distressing circumstances, his daily communion with his Beloved, wrote his praises of Him, and roused to fresh exertions the defenders of the fort. Though exposed to the bullets that kept ceaselessly raining upon his besieged companions, he, undeterred by the ferocity of the attack, pursued his labours in a state of unruffled calm. "My soul is wedded to Thy mention!" he was wont to exclaim. "Remembrance of Thee is the stay and solace of my life! I glory in that I was the first to suffer ignominiously for Thy <p356> sake in Shiraz. I long to be the first to suffer in Thy path a death that shall be worthy of Thy Cause."

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

The knowledge and sagacity which Quddus displayed on those occasions, the confidence with which he spoke, and the resource and enterprise which he demonstrated in the instructions he gave to his companions, reinforced his authority and enhanced his prestige. These at first supposed that the profound <p357> reverence which Mulla Husayn showed towards him was dictated by the exigencies of the situation rather than prompted by a spontaneous feeling of devotion to his person. His own writings and general behaviour gradually dispelled such doubts and served to establish him still more firmly in the esteem of his companions. In the days of his confinement in the town of Sari, Quddus, whom Mirza Muhammad-Taqi had requested to write a commentary on the Surih of Ikhlas, better known as the Surih of Qul Huva'llahu'l-Ahad, composed, in his interpretation of the Sad of Samad alone, a treatise which was thrice as voluminous as the Qur'an itself. That exhaustive and masterly exposition had profoundly impressed Mirza Muhammad-Taqi and had been responsible for the marked consideration which he showed towards Quddus, although in the end he joined the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' in compassing the death of the heroic martyrs of Shaykh Tabarsi. Quddus continued, while besieged in that fort, to write his commentary on that Surih, and was able, despite the vehemence of the enemy's onslaught, to pen as many verses as he had previously written in Sari in his interpretation of that same letter. The rapidity and copiousness of his composition, the inestimable treasures which his writings revealed, filled his companions with wonder and justified his leadership in their eyes. They read eagerly the pages of that commentary which Mulla Husayn brought to them each day and to which he paid his share of tribute.

The completion of the fort, and the provision of whatever was deemed essential for its defence, animated the enthusiasm of the companions of Mulla Husayn and excited the curiosity of the people of the neighbourhood.[1] A few out of sheer curiosity, others in pursuit of material interest, and still others prompted by their devotion to the Cause which that building symbolised, sought to be admitted within its walls and marvelled at the rapidity with which it had been raised. Quddus had no sooner ascertained the number of its occupants <p358> than he ordered that no visitor be allowed to enter it. The praises which those who had already inspected the fort had lavished upon it were transmitted from mouth to mouth until they reached the ears of the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' and kindled within his breast the flame of unrelenting jealousy. In his detestation of those who had been responsible for its erection, he issued the strictest prohibition against anyone's approaching its precincts and urged all to boycott the companions of Mulla Husayn. Despite the stringency of his orders, a few were found to disregard his wishes and to render whatever assistance was in their power to those whom he had so undeservedly persecuted. The afflictions to which these sufferers were subjected were such that at times they felt a distressing need of the bare necessities of life. In their dark hour of adversity, however, there would suddenly break upon them the light of Divine deliverance opening before their face the door of unexpected relief.

[1 "According to the descriptions which I have heard, the fortress erected by Mulla Husayn soon became a very strong building. Its walls made of large stones reached a height of ten meters. On this base, they raised a construction made of enormous tree trunks in the middle of which they arranged a number of loopholes; they then surrounded it entirely with a deep ditch. In fact it was a kind of great tower having stones for the foundation while the higher stories were of wood and provided with three rows of loopholes where they could place as many tufang-chis as they wished, or rather, as they had. They made openings for many doors and postern gates in order to facilitate entrance and exit. "They dug wells, thus securing an abundance of water; underground passages were excavated in order to provide refuge in case of need; storehouses were built and filled with all sorts of provisions either bought, or perhaps taken in the neighboring villages. Finally, they manned 1 the fortress with the most energetic Babis, the most devoted, and the most dependable available among them." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 156.)]

The providential manner in which the occupants of the fort were relieved of the distress which weighed upon them fanned to fury the wrath of the wilful and imperious Sa'idu'l-'Ulama'. Impelled by an implacable hatred, he addressed a burning appeal to Nasiri'd-Din Shah, who had recently ascended the throne, and expatiated upon the danger with which his dynasty, nay the monarchy itself, was menaced. "The standard of revolt," he pleaded, "has been raised by the contemptible sect of the Babis. This wretched band of irresponsible agitators has dared to strike at the very foundations of the authority with which your Imperial Majesty has been invested. The inhabitants of a number of villages in the immediate vicinity of their headquarters have already flown to their standard and sworn allegiance to their cause. They have built themselves a fort, and in that massive stronghold they have entrenched themselves, ready to direct a campaign against you. With unswerving obstinacy they <p359> have resolved to proclaim their independent sovereignty, a sovereignty that shall abase to the dust the imperial diadem of your illustrious ancestors. You stand at the threshold of your reign. What greater triumph could signalise the inauguration of your rule than to extirpate this hateful creed that has dared to conspire against you? It will serve to establish your Majesty in the confidence of your people. It will enhance your prestige, and invest your crown with imperishable glory. Should you vacillate in your policy, should you betray the least indulgence towards them, I feel it my duty to warn you that the day is fast approaching when not only the province of Mazindaran but the whole of Persia, from end to end, will have repudiated your authority and will have surrendered to their cause."

Nasiri'd-Din Shah, as yet inexperienced in the affairs of State, referred the matter to the officers who commanded the army of Mazindaran and who were in attendance upon him.[1] He instructed them to take whatever means they deemed fit for the eradication of the disturbers of his realm. Haji Mustafa Khan-i-Turkaman submitted his views to his sovereign: "I myself come from Mazindaran. I have been able to estimate the forces at their disposal. The handful of untrained and frail-bodied students whom I have seen are utterly powerless to withstand the forces which your Majesty can command. The army which you contemplate despatching is in my view unnecessary. A small detachment of that army will be sufficient to wipe them out. They are utterly unworthy of the care and consideration of my sovereign. Should your Majesty be willing to signify your desire, in an imperial message addressed to my brother Abdu'llah Khan-i-Turkaman, <p360> 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."

[1 "Thus frantic about the maintenance of order, the Amir-Nizam disposed quickly of the Mazindaran question. When the leading men of this province came to Tihran to pay their respects to the king, they were ordered, as they departed, to take necessary measures to put an end to the sedition of the Babis. They promised to do their best and in fact, as soon as they returned, these chiefs began to gather their forces and to deliberate. They wrote to their relations to come and join them. Haji Mustafa Khan called for his brother Abdu'llah, Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani sent for Muhammad-Sultan and Ali-Khan of Savad-Kuh. All of these worthies decided to attack the Babis in their fortress before they, themselves, could assume the defensive. The royal officers, seeing the chiefs of the country so willing, summoned a grand council to which hastened the lords already mentioned and also Mirza Aqa, Mustawfi of Mazindaran, superintendent of finances, the head of the Ulamas and many other men of high standing." (Ibid., pp. 160-161.)]

The Shah gave his consent, and issued his farman [1] to that same Abdu'llah Khan, bidding him to recruit without delay, from any part of his realm, the forces he might require for the execution of his purpose. He sent with his message a royal badge, which he bestowed upon him as a mark of confidence in his capacity to undertake that task. The receipt of the imperial farman and the token of the honour which his sovereign had conferred upon him nerved him to fresh resolve to carry out his mission befittingly. Within a short space of time, he had raised an army of about twelve thousand men, composed largely of the Usanlu, the Afghan, and the Kudar communities.[2] He equipped them with whatever ammunition was required, and stationed them in the village of Afra, which was the property of Nazar Khan, and <p361> which commanded the fort of Tabarsi. No sooner had he fixed his camp upon that eminence than he set out to intercept the bread which was being daily conveyed to the companions of Mulla Husayn. Even water was soon to be denied them, as it became impossible for the besieged to leave the fort under the fire of the enemy.

[1 See Glossary.]

[2 "On his side, the superintendent of finances raised a troop amongst the Afghans domiciled at Sari and added to it several men from the Turkish tribes under his administration. Ali-Abad, the village so severely punished by the Babis, which aspired to avenge itself, furnished what it could and was reinforced by a party of men from Qadi who, being in the neighborhood, were willing to enlist." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 161.)]

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

That very night, the army of Abdu'llah Khan was surprised by a torrential rain which overwhelmed that section which lay close to the fort. Much of the ammunition was irretrievably ruined. There gathered within the walls of the fort an amount of water which, for a long period, was sufficient for the consumption of the besieged. In the course of the following night, a snowfall such as the people of the neighbourhood even in the depth of winter had never experienced, added considerably to the annoyance which the rain had caused. The next night, which was the evening preceding the fifth of Muharram, in the year 1265 A.H.,[1] Quddus determined to leave the gate of the fort. "Praise be to God," he remarked to Rasul-i-Bahnimiri as he paced with calm and serenity the approaches to the gate, "who has graciously answered our prayer and caused both rain and snow to fall upon our enemies; a fall that has brought desolation into their camp and refreshment into our fort."

[1 December 1, 1848 A.D.]

As the hour of the attack approached for which that numerous army, despite the losses it had sustained, was strenuously preparing, Quddus determined to sally out and <p362> scatter its forces. Two hours after sunrise, he mounted his steed and, escorted by Mulla Husayn and three other of his companions, all of whom were riding beside him, marched out of the gate, followed by the entire company on foot behind them. As soon as they had emerged, there pealed out the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!"[1]--a cry that diffused consternation through the camp of the enemy. The roar which these lion-hearted followers of the Bab raised amidst the forest of Mazindaran dispersed the affrighted enemy that lay in ambush within its recesses. The glitter of their bared weapons dazzled their sight, and its menace was sufficient to stun and overpower them. They fled in disgraceful rout before their onrush, leaving all possessions behind them. Within the space of forty-five minutes, the shout of victory had been raised. Quddus and Mulla Husayn had succeeded in bringing under their control the remnants of the defeated army. Abdu'llah Khan-i-Turkaman, with two of his officers, Habibu'llah Khan-i-Afghan and Nuru'llah Khan-i-Afghan, together with no less than four hundred and thirty of their men, had perished.

[1 See Glossary.]

Quddus returned to the fort while Mulla Husayn was still engaged in pursuing the work which had been so valiantly performed. The voice of Siyyid Abdu'l-'Azim-i-Khu'i was soon raised summoning him, on behalf of Quddus, to return immediately to the fort. "We have repulsed the assailants," <p363> Quddus remarked; "we need not carry further the punishment. Our purpose is to protect ourselves that we may be able to continue our labours for the regeneration of men. We have no intention whatever of causing unnecessary harm to anyone. What we have already achieved is sufficient testimony to God's invincible power. We, a little band of His followers, have been able, through His sustaining grace, to overcome the organised and trained army of our enemies."

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

As the signs of the reassembling of the forces which had been commanded by Abdu'llah Khan became apparent, Quddus bade his companions dig a moat around the fort as a safeguard against a renewed attack. Nineteen days elapsed during which they exerted themselves to the utmost for the completion of the task they had been charged to perform. They joyously laboured by day and by night in order to expedite the work with which they had been entrusted. Soon after the work was completed, it was announced that Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza [1] was advancing towards the fort at the head of a numerous army, and had actually encamped at Shir-Gah. A few days later, he had transferred his headquarters to Vas-Kas. On his arrival, he sent one of his men to inform Mulla Husayn that he had been commanded by the Shah to ascertain the purpose of his activities and to request that he be enlightened as to the object he had in view. "Tell your master," Mulla Husayn replied, "that we utterly disclaim any intention either of subverting <p364> <p365> the foundations of the monarchy or of usurping the authority of Nasiri'd-Din Shah. Our Cause concerns the revelation of the promised Qa'im and is primarily associated with the interests of the ecclesiastical order of this country. We can set forth incontrovertible arguments and deduce infallible proofs in support of the truth of the Message we bear." The passionate sincerity with which Mulla Husayn pleaded in defence of his Cause, and the details which he cited to demonstrate the validity of his claims, touched the heart of the messenger and brought tears to his eyes. "What are we to do?" he exclaimed. "Let the prince," Mulla Husayn replied, "direct the ulamas of both Sari and Barfurush to betake themselves to this place, and ask us to demonstrate the validity of the Revelation proclaimed by the Bab. Let the Qur'an decide as to who speaks the truth. Let the prince himself judge our case and pronounce the verdict. Let him also decide as to how he should treat us if we fail to establish, by the aid of verses and traditions, the truth of this Cause." The messenger expressed his complete satisfaction with the answer he had received, and promised that before the lapse of three days the ecclesiastical dignitaries would be convened in the manner he had suggested.

[1 "The Amir-Nizam grew violently angry at the news of what had happened. The description of the terrors aroused his indignation. Too far from the scene of action to appraise the wild enthusiasm of the rebels, the only conclusion he could reach was that the Babies should be done away with before their courage could be further stimulated by real victories. The Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, appointed lieutenant of the king in the threatened province, left with a grant of extraordinary powers. Instructions were given to draw up a list of the men who had died in the attack on the Babis' fortress and in the sacking of Ferra and pensions were promised to the survivors. "Haji Mustafa Khan, brother of Abdu'llah, received substantial tokens of the royal favor; in a word, all that was possible was done to restore the courage and confidence of the Mussulmans." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 164-165.)]

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

The day had not yet broken when at the signal, "Mount your steeds, O heroes of God!" Quddus ordered that the gates of the fort be again thrown open. Mulla Husayn and two hundred and two of his companions ran to their horses and followed Quddus as he rode out in the direction of Vas-Kas. Undaunted by the overwhelming forces arrayed against them, and undeterred by the snow and mud which had accumulated on the roads, they headed, without a pause, in the midst of the darkness that surrounded them, towards the stronghold which served as a base for the operations of the enemy. <p366>

The prince, who was observing the movements of Mulla Husayn, saw him approaching, from his fort, and ordered his men to open fire upon him. The bullets which they discharged were powerless to check his advance. He forced his way through the gate and rushed into the private apartments of the prince, who, with a sudden sense that his life was in danger, threw himself from a back window into the moat and escaped barefooted.[1] 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.[2]

[1 "We have left Mihdi-Quli Mirza running away from his burning home and wandering alone in the country, in the snow and the darkness. Toward dawn, he found himself in an unknown mountain pass, lost in a wild country, but in reality only a short distance away from the slaughter of battle. The wind brought to his ears the noise of the volleys of musketry. "In this sad state, completely bewildered, he was met by a Mazindarani, mounted on a fairly good horse, who recognized him. This man dismounted, placed the Prince on his horse and offered to serve him as guide. He led him to a peasant's hut, settled him in the barn (this is not considered a place to frown upon in Persia) and while the Prince slept and ate, the Mazindarani mounted his horse and, covering the country side, gave out the glad tidings that the Prince was safe and well. Thus he brought to him all his men, or at least a respectable number of them, one band after another. "If Mihdi-Quli Mirza had been one of those proud spirits not easily broken by reverses, he would have considered his position only slightly altered by the mishaps of the previous evening; he could have believed that his men had been unfortunately surprised; then with the remainder of his forces he would have saved appearances and held the ground, for in fact, the Babis had retreated and were out of sight. But the Shahzadih, far from priding himself on such firmness, was a weak character and, when he saw himself so well guarded, he left the barn and hurried to the village of Qadi-Kala whence he reached Sari in great haste. This conduct strengthened in the whole province the impression caused by the defeat of Vaskas. Panic ensued, open towns believed themselves exposed to every danger and, in spite of the rigor of the season, one could see caravans of non-combatants in great distress, taking their wives and children to the desert of Damav and to save them from the miserable dangers which the cautious conduct of Shahzadih seemed to foretell. When the Asiatics lose their heads they do so completely." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 169-170.)]

[2 "In a few moments his army already in such confusion, was scattered by the three hundred men of Mulla Husayn! Was not this the sword of the Lord and of Gideon?" (Ibid., p. 167.)]

As the victors were forcing their way through the section of the fort reserved for the prince, two other princes of royal blood [1] fell in an attempt to strike down their opponents. As they penetrated his apartments, they discovered, in one <p367> of his rooms, coffers filled with gold and silver, all of which they disdained to touch. With the exception of a pot of gunpowder and the favourite sword of the prince which they carried as an evidence of their triumph to Mulla Husayn, his companions ignored the costly furnishings which their owner had abandoned in his despair. When they took it to Mulla Husayn, they discovered that he had, as a result of the bullet which had struck his own sword, exchanged it for that of Quddus, with which he was engaged in repulsing the assailant.

[1 According to Gobineau (p. 167), they were Sultan Husayn Mirza, son of Fath-'Ali Shah, and Dawud Mirza, son of Zillu's-Sultan, uncle of the Shah. A. L. M. Nicolas, in his "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab" (p. 308), adds Mustawfi Mirza Abdu'l-Baqi.]

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

On the morning of that memorable engagement, Mulla Husayn assembled his companions around Quddus in the outskirts of Vas-Kas, while he remained himself on horseback in anticipation of a renewed attack by the enemy. He was watching their movements, when he suddenly observed an innumerable host rushing from both sides towards him. All sprang to their feet and, raising again the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!" pressed forward to face the challenge. Mulla Husayn spurred his charger in one direction, and Quddus and his companions in another. The detachment which was charging Mulla Husayn suddenly deflected its course and, fleeing from before him, joined forces with the rest of the enemy and encompassed Quddus and those who were with him. At a given moment, they discharged a thousand bullets, one of which struck Quddus in the mouth, knocking out several of his teeth and wounding both his tongue and throat. The loud noise which the simultaneous discharge of a thousand bullets produced, and which could be heard at a distance of ten farsangs,[1] filled with apprehension Mulla Husayn, who hastened to the rescue of his friends. As soon as he reached them, he alighted from his horse and, entrusting it to his attendant, Qambar-'Ali, ran towards Quddus. The sight of blood dripping profusely from the mouth of his beloved chief <p368> struck him with fear and dismay. He raised his hands in horror and was on the point of beating himself upon the head when Quddus bade him desist. Obeying his leader instantly, he begged him to be allowed to receive his sword from his hand, which, as soon as it had been delivered, was unsheathed from its scabbard and used to scatter the forces that had massed around him. Followed by a hundred and ten of his fellow-disciples, he faced the forces arrayed against him. Wielding in one hand the sword of his beloved leader and in the other that of his disgraced opponent, he fought a desperate battle against them, and within thirty minutes, during which he displayed marvellous heroism, he succeeded in putting the entire army to flight.

[1 See Glossary.]

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

This memorable engagement fell on the twenty-fifth of Muharram, 1265 A.H.[1] In the beginning of that same month, Baha'u'llah, faithful to the promise He had given to Mulla Husayn, set out, attended by a number of His friends, from Nur for the fort of Tabarsi. Among those who accompanied Him were Haji Mirza Janiy-i-Kashani, Mulla Baqir-i-Tabrizi, one of the Letters of the Living, and Mirza Yahya, His brother. Baha'u'llah had signified His wish that they should proceed directly to their destination and allow no pause in their journey. His intention was to reach that spot at night, inasmuch as strict orders had been issued, ever since Abdu'llah <p369> Khan had assumed the command, that no help should be extended, under any circumstances, to the occupants of the fort. Guards had been stationed at different places to ensure the isolation of the besieged. His companions, however, pressed Him to interrupt the journey and to seek a few hours of rest. Although He knew that this delay would involve a grave risk of being surprised by the enemy, He yielded to their earnest request. They halted at a lonely house adjoining the road. After supper, his companions all retired to sleep. He alone, despite the hardships He had endured, remained wakeful. He knew well the perils to which He and His friends were exposed, and was fully aware of the possibilities which His early arrival at the fort involved.

[1 December 21, 1848 A.D.]

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

At daybreak, as they were approaching the town, a message was sent in advance to the acting governor, informing him of the arrival of a party that had been captured on their way to the fort of Tabarsi. The governor himself, together with the members of his body-guard, had been appointed to join the army of Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, and had commissioned his kinsman to act in his absence. As <p370> soon as the message reached him, he went to the masjid of Amul and summoned the ulamas and leading siyyids of the town to gather and meet the party. He was greatly surprised as soon as his eyes saw and recognized Baha'u'llah, and deeply regretted the orders he had given. He feigned to reprimand Him for the action He had taken, in the hope of appeasing the tumult and allaying the excitement of those who had gathered in the masjid. "We are innocent," Baha'u'llah declared, "of the guilt they impute to us. Our blamelessness will eventually be established in your eyes. I would advise you to act in a manner that will cause you eventually no regret." The acting governor asked the ulamas who were present to put any question they desired. <p371> To their enquiries Baha'u'llah returned explicit and convincing replies. As they were interrogating Him, they discovered a manuscript in the possession of one of His companions which they recognized as the writings of the Bab and which they handed to the chief of the ulamas present at that gathering. As soon as he had perused a few lines of that manuscript, he laid it aside and, turning to those around him, exclaimed: "These people, who advance such extravagant claims, have, in this very sentence which I have read, betrayed their ignorance of the most rudimentary rules of orthography." "Esteemed and learned divine," Baha'u'llah replied, "these words which you criticise are not the words of the Bab. They have been uttered by no less a personage than the Imam Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, in his reply to Kumayl-ibn-i-Ziyad, whom he had chosen as his companion."

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

The acting governor was much embarrassed, and realised that any evidence of indulgence on his part would be fraught with grave consequences for the safety of his position. In his desire to hold in check the passions which had been aroused, he ordered his attendants to prepare the rods and promptly inflict a befitting punishment upon the captives. "We will afterwards," he added, "keep them in prison pending the return of the governor, who will send them to Tihran, <p372> where they will receive, at the hands of the sovereign, the chastisement they deserve."

The first who was bound to receive the bastinado was Mulla Baqir. "I am only a groom of Baha'u'llah," he urged. "I was on my way to Mashhad when they suddenly arrested me and brought me to this place." Baha'u'llah intervened and succeeded in inducing his oppressors to release him. He likewise interceded for Haji Mirza Jani, who He said was "a mere tradesman" whom He regarded as His "guest," so that He was "responsible for any charges brought against him." Mirza Yahya, whom they proceeded to bind, was also set free as soon as Baha'u'llah had declared him to be His attendant. "None of these men," He told the acting governor, "are guilty of any crime. If you insist on inflicting your punishment, I offer Myself as a willing Victim of your chastisement." The acting governor was reluctantly compelled to give orders that Baha'u'llah alone be chosen to suffer the indignity which he had intended originally for His companions.[1]

[1 O Shaykh! Things the like of which no eye hath seen have befallen this wronged one. Gladly and with the utmost resignation I have accepted to suffer, that thereby the souls of men may be enlightened and the Word of God be established. When we were imprisoned in the Land of Mim [Mazindaran], they one day delivered us into the hands of the ulama. That which ensued, thou canst well imagine!" ("The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," p. 57.)]

The same treatment that had been me-ed out to the Bab five months previously in Tabriz, Baha'u'llah suffered in the presence of the assembled ulamas of Amul. The first confinement that the Bab suffered at the hands of His enemies was in the house of Abdu'l-Hamid Khan, the chief constable of Shiraz; the first confinement of Baha'u'llah was in the home of one of the kad-khudas of Tihran. The Bab's second imprisonment was in the castle of Mah-Ku; that of Baha'u'llah was in the private residence of the governor of Amul. The Bab was scourged in the namaz-khanih [1] of the Shaykhu'l-Islam of Tabriz; the same indignity was inflicted on Baha'u'llah in the namaz-khanih of the mujtahid of Amul. The Bab's third confinement was in the castle of Chihriq; Baha'u'llah's was in the Siyah-Chal [2] of Tihran. The Bab, whose trials and sufferings had preceded, in almost every case, <p373> those of Baha'u'llah, had offered Himself to ransom His Beloved from the perils that beset that precious Life; whilst Baha'u'llah, on His part, unwilling that He who so greatly loved Him should be the sole Sufferer, shared at every turn the cup that had touched His lips. Such love no eye has ever beheld, nor has mortal heart conceived such mutual devotion. If the branches of every tree were turned into pens, and all the seas into ink, and earth and heaven rolled into one parchment, the immensity of that love would still remain unexplored, and the depths of that devotion unfathomed.

[1 Literally "prayer-house."]

[2 Literally "black pit," the subterranean dungeon in which Baha'u'llah was imprisoned.]

Baha'u'llah and His companions remained for a time imprisoned in one of the rooms that formed part of the masjid. <p374> The acting governor, who was still determined to shield his Prisoner from the assaults of an inveterate enemy, secretly instructed his attendants to open, at an unsuspected hour, a passage through the wall of the room in which the captives were confined, and to transfer their Leader immediately to his home. He was himself conducting Baha'u'llah to his residence when a siyyid sprang forward and, directing his fiercest invectives against Him, raised the club which he held in his hand to strike Him. The acting governor immediately interposed himself and, appealing to the assailant, "adjured him by the Prophet of God" to stay his hand. "What!" burst forth the siyyid. "How dare you release a man who is the sworn enemy of the Faith of our fathers?" A crowd of ruffians had meanwhile gathered around him, and by their howls of derision and abuse added to the clamour which he had raised. Despite the growing tumult, the attendants of the acting governor were able to conduct Baha'u'llah in safety to the residence of their master, and displayed on that occasion a courage and presence of mind that were truly surprising.

Despite the protestations of the mob, the rest of the prisoners were taken to the seat of government, and thus escaped from the perils with which they had been threatened. The acting governor offered profuse apologies to Baha'u'llah for the treatment which the people of Amul had accorded Him. "But for the interposition of Providence," he said, "no force would have achieved your deliverance from the grasp of this malevolent people. But for the efficacy of the vow which I had made to risk my own life for your sake, I, too, would have fallen a victim to their violence, and would have been trampled beneath their feet." He bitterly complained of the outrageous conduct of the siyyids of Amul, and denounced the baseness of their character. He expressed himself as being continually tormented by the effects of their malignant designs. He set about serving Baha'u'llah with devotion and kindness, and was often heard, in the course of his conversation with Him, to remark: "I am far from regarding you a prisoner in my home. This house, I believe, was built for the very purpose of affording you a shelter from the designs of your foes." <p375>

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

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

What he had seen of the heroism of the defenders of the fort had quite changed the mind and heart of the governor of Amul. He returned filled with admiration for a Cause which he had formerly despised, and the progress of which he had strenuously resisted. The scenes he witnessed had disarmed his wrath and chastened his pride. Humbly and <p376> respectfully, he went to Baha'u'llah and apologised for the insolence of the inhabitants of a town that he had been chosen to govern. He served Him with extreme devotion, utterly ignoring his own position and rank. He paid a glowing tribute to Mulla Husayn, and expatiated upon his resourcefulness, his intrepidity, his skill, and nobleness of soul. A few days later, he succeeded in arranging for the safe departure of Baha'u'llah and His companions for Tihran.

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

The first incarceration to which He was subjected as a result of the helping hand He had extended to the captives of Qazvin; the ability with which He achieved the deliverance of Tahirih; the exemplary manner in which He steered the course of the turbulent proceedings in Badasht; the manner in which He saved the life of Quddus in Niyala; the wisdom which He showed in His handling of the delicate situation created by the impetuosity of Tahirih, and the vigilance He <p377> exercised for her protection; the counsels which He gave to the defenders of the fort of Tabarsi; the plan He conceived of joining the forces of Quddus to those of Mulla Husayn and his companions; the spontaneity with which He arose to support the exertions of those brave defenders; the magnanimity which prompted Him to offer Himself as a substitute for His companions who were under the threat of severe indignities; the serenity with which He faced the severity inflicted upon Him as a result of the attempt on the life of Nasiri'd-Din Shah; the indignities which were heaped upon Him all the way from Lavasan to the headquarters of the imperial army and from thence to the capital; the galling weight of chains which He bore as He lay in the darkness of the Siyah-Chal of Tihran--all these are but a few instances that eloquently testify to the unique position which He occupied as the prime Mover of the forces which were destined to reshape the face of His native land. It was He who had released these forces, who steered their course, harmonised their action, and brought them finally to their highest consummation in the Cause He Himself was destined at a later time to reveal. <p378>





THE forces under the command of Prince Mihdi-Quli

Mirza meanwhile had recovered from the

state of utter demoralisation into which they had

sunk, and were now diligently preparing to renew

their attack upon the occupants of the fort of Tabarsi. The

latter found themselves again encompassed by a numerous

host, at the head of which marched Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani

and Sulayman Khan-i-Afshar-i-Shahriyari, who, together

with several regiments of infantry and cavalry, had

hastened to reinforce the company of the prince's soldiers.[1]

Their combined forces encamped in the neighbourhood of the

fort,[2] and proceeded to erect a series of seven barricades

around it. With the utmost arrogance, they sought at first

to display the extent of the forces at their command, and

indulged with increasing zest in the daily exercise of their arms.

[1 "Thus perplexed and not knowing which way to turn, Shahzadih, poor man, gave orders to gather together new soldiers and raise another army. The population was not eager to serve under a chief whose worth and intrepidity had not brilliantly stood the test. Nevertheless, by the help of money and through promises, the Mullas particularly, who did not lose sight of their interests, and who had the most at stake, displayed such zeal that in the end a fair number of tufang-chis were assembled. As for the mounted soldiers of the various tribes, from the moment their chiefs mount their horses, they do likewise without even asking why. "Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani obeyed without hesitation the order to send new recruits. This time however, either through distrust of a Prince whose ineptitude might endanger the lives of his relatives and subjects, or because ambitious to distinguish himself, he no longer gave anyone the command of his forces. He led them himself by a daring move and, instead of rejoining the royal army, he went straight on to attack the Babis in their refuge. Then he gave notice to the Prince that he had arrived at the fortress of Shaykh Tabarsi and that he was besieging it. Besides, he notified him that he had no need of assistance nor of support, that his forces were more than adequate and that, if his royal highness would see for himself how he, Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani was about to treat the rebels, he would be both honored and gratified." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 170-171.)]

[2 "Mihdi-Quli Mirza could not pass for a bold warrior, as we have just seen, but he substituted for an excessive intrepidity another quality very useful to a general, he did not take literally the boastings of his lieutenants. Therefore, fearing that ill might befall this impudent nomad, he sent him reinforcements immediately. Thus departed in great haste Muhsin Khan-i-Ashrafi with his cavalry, a troop of Afghans, Muhammad-Karim Khan-i-Ashrafi with some of the tufang-chis of the town, and Khalil Khan of Savad-Kuh with the men of Qadi-Kala." (Ibid., p. 171.)] <p379>

The scarcity of water had, in the meantime, compelled those who were besieged to dig a well within the enclosure of the fort. On the day the work was to be completed, the eighth day of the month of Rabi'u'l-Avval,[1] Mulla Husayn, who was watching his companions perform this task, remarked: "To-day we shall have all the water we require for our bath. Cleansed of all earthly defilements, we shall seek the court of the Almighty, and shall hasten to our eternal abode. Whoso is willing to partake of the cup of martyrdom, let him prepare himself and wait for the hour when he can seal with his life-blood his faith in his Cause. This night, ere the hour of dawn, let those who wish to join me be ready to issue forth from behind these walls and, scattering once again the dark forces which have beset our path, ascend untrammelled to the heights of glory."

[1 February 1, 1849 A.D.]

That same afternoon, Mulla Husayn performed his ablutions, clothed himself in new garments, attired his head with the Bab's turban, and prepared for the approaching encounter. An undefinable joy illumined his face. He serenely alluded to the hour of his departure, and continued to his last moments to animate the zeal of his companions. Alone with Quddus, who so powerfully reminded him of his Beloved, he poured forth, as he sat at his feet in the closing moments of his earthly life, all that an enraptured soul could no longer restrain. Soon after midnight, as soon as the morning-star had risen, the star that heralded to him the dawning light of eternal reunion with his Beloved, he started to his feet and, mounting his charger, gave the signal that the gate of the fort be opened. As he rode out at the head of three hundred and thirteen of his companions to meet the enemy, the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!"[1] again broke forth, a cry so intense and powerful that forest, fort, and camp vibrated to its resounding echo.

[1 See Glossary.]

Mulla Husayn first charged the barricade which was defended by Zakariyyay-i-Qadi-Kala'i, one of the enemy's most valiant officers. Within a short space of time, he had broken <p380> through that barrier, disposed of its commander, and scattered his men. Dashing forward with the same swiftness and intrepidity, he overcame the resistance of both the second and third barricades, diffusing, as he advanced, despair and consternation among his foes. Undeterred by the bullets which rained continually upon him and his companions, they pressed forward until the remaining barricades had all been captured and overthrown. In the midst of the tumult which ensued, Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani had climbed a tree, and, hiding himself in its branches, lay waiting in ambush for his opponents. Protected by the darkness which surrounded him, he was able to follow from his hiding place the movements of Mulla Husayn and his companions, who were exposed to the fierce glare of the conflagration which they had raised. The steed of Mulla Husayn suddenly became entangled in the rope of an adjoining tent, and ere he was able to extricate himself, he was struck in the breast by a bullet from his treacherous assailant. Though the shot was successful, Abbas-Quli Khan was unaware of the identity of the horseman he had wounded. Mulla Husayn, who was bleeding profusely, dismounted from his horse, staggered a few steps, and, unable to proceed further, fell exhausted upon the ground. Two of his young companions, of Khurasan, Quli, and Hasan, came to his rescue and bore him to the fort.[1]

[1 "Although seriously wounded, the Babi chief continued, nevertheless, to give orders and to lead and stimulate his men until, seeing that little more could be gained, he gave the signal to retreat, remaining himself with the rear guard." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 174.)] <p381>

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

"A long time elapsed before Quddus bade Mirza Muhammad-Baqir open the door and admit his companions. 'I have bade my last farewell to him,' he said, as we entered the room. 'Things which previously I deemed it unallowable to utter I have now shared with him.' We found on our arrival that Mulla Husayn had expired. A faint smile still lingered upon his face. Such was the peacefulness of his countenance that he seemed to have fallen asleep. Quddus attended to his burial, clothed him in his own shirt, and gave instructions to lay him to rest to the south of, and adjoining, the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi.[1] 'Well is it with you to have remained to your last hour faithful to the Covenant <p382> of God,' he said, as he laid a parting kiss upon his eyes and forehead. 'I pray God to grant that no division ever be caused between you and me.' He spoke with such poignancy that the seven companions who were standing beside him wept profusely, and wished they had been sacrificed in his stead. Quddus, with his own hands, laid the body in the tomb, and cautioned those who were standing near him to maintain secrecy regarding the spot which served as his resting place, and to conceal it even from their companions. He afterwards instructed them to inter the bodies of the thirty-six martyrs who had fallen in the course of that engagement in one and the same grave on the northern side of the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi. 'Let the loved ones of God,' he was heard to remark as he consigned them to their tomb, 'take heed of the example of these martyrs of our Faith. Let them in life be and remain as united as these are now in death.'"

[1 "His [Mulla Husayn's] mortal remains still repose in the little inner room of the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi where, at the direction of Mulla Muhammad-'Ali Barfurushi, they were reverently laid by the hands of his sorrowing comrades in the beginning of the year A.D. 1849." ("A Traveller's Narrative," Note F, p. 245.)]

No less than ninety of the companions were wounded that night, most of whom succumbed. From the day of their arrival at Barfurush to the day they were first attacked, which fell on the twelfth of Dhi'l-Qa'dih in the year 1264 A.H.,[1] to the day of the death of Mulla Husayn, which took place at the hour of dawn on the ninth of Rabi'u'l-Avval in the year 1265 A.H.,[2] the number of martyrs, according to the computation of Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, had reached a total of seventy-two.

[1 October 10, 1848 A.D.]

[2 February 2, 1849 A.D.]

From the time when Mulla Husayn was assailed by his enemies to the time of his martyrdom was a hundred and sixteen days, a period rendered memorable by deeds so heroic that even his bitterest foes felt bound to confess their wonder. On four distinct occasions, he rose to such heights of courage and power as few indeed could attain. The first encounter took place on the twelfth of Dhi'l-Qa'dih,[1] in the outskirts of Barfurush; the second, in the immediate neighbourhood of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi, on the fifth day of the month of Muharram,[2] against the forces of Abdu'llah Khan-i-Turkaman; the third, in Vas-Kas, on the twenty-fifth day of Muharram,[3] directed against the army of Prince <p383> Mihdi-Quli Mirza. The last and most memorable battle of all was directed against the combined forces of Abbas-Quli Khan, of Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, and of Sulayman Khan-i-Afshar, assisted by a company of forty-five officers of tried ability and matured experience. From each of these hot and fierce engagements Mulla Husayn emerged, in spite of the overwhelming forces arrayed against him, unscathed and triumphant. In each encounter he distinguished himself by such acts of valour, of chivalry, of skill, and of strength that each one would alone suffice to establish for all time the transcendent character of a Faith for the protection of which he had so valiantly fought, and in the path of which he had so nobly died. The traits of mind and of character which, from his very youth, he displayed, the profundity of his learning, the tenacity of his faith, his intrepid courage, his singleness of purpose, his high sense of justice and unswerving devotion, marked him as an outstanding figure among those who, by their lives, have borne witness to the glory and power of the new Revelation. He was six and thirty years old when he quaffed the cup of martyrdom. At the age of eighteen he made the acquaintance, in Karbila, of Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti. For nine years he sat at his feet, and imbibed the lesson which was destined to prepare him for the acceptance of the Message of the Bab. The nine remaining years of his life were spent in the midst of a restless, a feverish activity which carried him eventually to the field of martyrdom, in circumstances that have shed imperishable lustre upon his country's history.[4]

[1 October 10, 1848 A.D.]

[2 December 1, 1848 A.D.]

[3 December 21, 1848 A.D.

[4 "Among them was Mulla Husayn, who was made the recipient of the effulgent glory of the Sun of Revelation. But for him, God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor ascended the throne of eternal glory." (The "Kitab-i-Iqan," p. 188.) See note 5, p. 23. "Frail of form, but a gallant soldier and an impassioned lover of God he combined qualities and characteristics which even in the spiritual aristocracy of Persia are seldom found united in the same person." (Dr. T. K. Cheyne's "The Reconciliation of Races and Religions," p. 83.) "At last," writes Gobineau, "he passed away. The new religion, which found in him its first martyr, lost, in the same stroke, a man whose moral strength and ability would have been of great value to it, had he lived longer. The Muhammadans naturally feel a hatred for the memory of this leader, which is as deep as the love and veneration shown for him by the Babis. They can both justify their opposing sentiments. What is certain is that Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i was the first to give to Babism, in the Persian empire, the status which a religious or political body acquires in the eyes of the people only after it has demonstrated its warlike strength." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 176.) "The late Haji Mirza Jani writes: 'I myself met him [Mirza Muhammad-Hasan, the younger brother of Mulla Husayn] when he was bringing his mother and sister from Karbila to Qazvin and from Qazvin to Tihran. His sister was the wife of Shaykh Abu-Turab of Qazvin, who was a scholar and philosopher such at is rarely met with and believed with the utmost sincerity and purity of purpose, while such was his love and devotion to the Bab that if anyone did so much as mention the name of His Supreme Holiness (the souls of all beside him be His sacrifice) he could not restrain his tears. Often have I seen him, when engaged in the perusal of the writings of His Supreme Holiness, become almost beside himself with rapture, and nearly faint with joy. Of his wife he used to say: "I married her three years ago in Karbila. She was then but an indifferent scholar even in Persian, but now she can expound texts from the Qur'an and explain the most difficult questions and most subtle points of the doctrine of the Divine Unity in such wise that I have never seen a man who was her equal in this, or in readiness of apprehension. These gifts she has obtained by the blessing of His Holiness the Supreme and through converse with her holiness the Pure (Qurratu'l-'Ayn). I have seen in her a patience and resignation rare even in the most self-denying men, for during these three years, though I have not sent her a single dinar for her expenses and she has supported herself only with the greatest difficulty, she has never uttered a word; and now that she has come to Tihran, she refrains altogether from speaking of the past, and though, in accordance with the wishes of Jinab-i-Babu'l-Bab, she now desires to proceed to Khurasan, and has literally nothing to put on save one well-worn dress which she wears, she never asks for clothes or travelling-money, but ever seeks reasonable excuses wherewith to set me at my ease and prevent me from feeling ashamed. Her purity, chastity, and virtue are boundless, and during all this while no unprivileged person hath so much as heard her voice." But the virtues of the daughter were surpassed by those of the mother, who possessed rare attainments and accomplishments, and had composed many poems and eloquent elegies on the afflictions of her sons. Although Jinab-i-Babu'l-Bab had warned her of his approaching martyrdom and foretold to her all the impending calamities, she still continued to exhibit the same eager devotion and cheerful resignation, rejoicing that God had accepted the sacrifice of her sons, and even praying that they might attain to this great dignity and not be deprived of so great blessedness. It is indeed wonderful to meditate on this virtuous and saintly family, the sons so conspicuous for their single-minded devotion and self-sacrifice, the mother and daughter so patient and resigned. When I, Mirza Jani, met Mirza Muhammad-Hasan, he was but seventeen years of age, yet I observed in him a dignity, gravity, composure, and virtue which amazed me. After the death of Jinab-i-Babu'l-Bab, Hadrat-i-Quddus bestowed on him the sword and turban of that glorious martyr, and made him captain of the troops of the True King. As to his martyrdom, there is a difference of opinion as to whether he was slain at the breakfast-table in the camp, or suffered martyrdom with Jinab-i-Quddus in the square of Barfurush.'" (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 93-5.) The sister of Mulla Husayn was surnamed "Varaqatu'l-Firdaws" and was intimately associated, while in Karbila, with Tahirih. ("Memorials of the Faithful," p. 270.)] <p384>

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

The very night Quddus had given this warning, a siyyid from Qum, Mirza Husayn-i-Mutavalli, was moved to betray his companions. "Why is it," he wrote to Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani, "that you have left unfinished the work <p385> which you have begun? You have already disposed of a formidable opponent. By the removal of Mulla Husayn, who was the moving force behind these walls, you have demolished the pillar on which the strength and security of the fort depend. Had you been patient for one more day, you would have assuredly won for yourself the laurels of victory. With no more than a hundred men, I pledge my word that within the space of two days you will be able to capture the fort and secure the unconditional surrender of its occupants. They are worn with famine and are being grievously tested." The sealed letter was entrusted to a certain Siyyid Aliy-i-Zargar, who, as he carried with him the share of the rice he had received from Quddus, stole out of the fort at the hour of midnight and delivered it to Abbas-Quli Khan, with whom he was already acquainted. The message reached him at a time when he had sought refuge in a village situated at a distance of four farsangs [1] from the fort, and knew not whether he should return to the capital and present himself after such a humiliating defeat to his sovereign, or repair to his home in Larijan, where he was sure to face the reproaches of his relations and friends.

[1 See Glossary.]

He had just risen from his bed when, at the hour of sunrise, the siyyid brought him the letter. The news of the death of Mulla Husayn nerved him to a fresh resolve. Fearing <p386> lest the messenger should spread the report concerning the death of so redoubtable an opponent, he instantly killed him, and then contrived by some strange device to divert from himself the suspicion of murder. Resolved to take the fullest advantage of the distress of the besieged and of the depletion of their forces, he undertook immediately the necessary preparations for the resumption of his attacks. Ten days before Naw-Ruz, he had encamped at half a farsang from the fort, and had ascertained the accuracy of the message that treacherous siyyid had brought him. In the hope of obtaining for himself every possible credit for the eventual surrender of his opponents, he refused to divulge, to even his closest officers, the information he had received.

The day had just broken when he hoisted his standard [1] and, marching at the head of two regiments of infantry and cavalry, encompassed the fort and ordered his men to open fire upon the sentinels who were guarding the turrets. "The betrayer," Quddus informed Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, who had hastened to acquaint him with the gravity of the situation, "has announced the death of Mulla Husayn to Abbas-Quli Khan. Emboldened by his removal, he is now determined to storm our stronghold and to secure for himself the honour of being its sole conqueror. Sally out and, with the aid of eighteen men marching at your side, administer a befitting chastisement upon the aggressor and his host. Let him realise that though Mulla Husayn be no more, God's <p387> invincible power still continues to sustain his companions and enable them to triumph over the forces of their enemies."

[1 "This time the terror knew no bounds; throughout the province the people, deeply aroused by the repeated defeats of Islam, were beginning to lean toward the new religion. The military leaders felt their authority tottering, the religious chiefs saw their power over souls waning; the situation was extremely critical and the least incident might place the province completely under the influence of the Reformer." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 315.) "But when the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' was informed of this, he (fearing lest the Babis should enter Barfurush and mete out to him the punishment which he deserved) was overcome with trouble and consternation, and wrote several successive letters to Abbas-Quli Khan, saying: 'I congratulate you on your courage and discretion, but how much to be deplored it is that after you have been at such pains, lost so many of your kinsmen, and gained at length so signal a victory, you did not follow it up. You have made a great multitude food for the sword, and have returned, leaving only a few decrepit old men as survivors. Alas, that, after all your efforts and perseverance, the prince is now prepared to march against the castle and take captive these few poor wretches, so that after all he will get the credit of this signal victory, and will appropriate to himself all the money and property of the vanquished! You must make it your first and most important business to return to the castle ere he has set out, for the government of a province like Mazindaran is not a thing to be trifled with. Strive, then, to gain the entire credit of this victory, and let your exertions accomplish what your zeal has begun.' He also wrote at great length to the clergy of Amul urgently exhorting them to use their best endeavours to make the Sartip Abbas-Quli Khan start at once without further delay. So they continued too remind him incessantly that it was his duty to march with all speed against the castle; and the Sartip, though he knew that what the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' had written to him was utterly false and baseless, was eager, if it should be possible, to make some amends for what had passed, and so to clear himself in some measure of the disgrace which he had incurred in the eyes of the Larijani women whose husbands he had sacrificed, and of the government. But inwardly he was consumed with anxiety, fearing that, as in the previous campaign, he might fail to accomplish anything. Most of his men, too, were wounded, while many had fled and concealed themselves in the surrounding villages distant four or five farsangs from the city. So, as a makeshift, he wrote to the clergy of Amul, saying: 'If indeed this be a religious war, you, who are such zealous champions of the Faith, and to whom men look for example, should take the lead, and make the first move, so that others may follow you.' The clergy, not being prepared with a suitable answer, and seeing no way of excusing themselves, were obliged to send a message to the effect that the war was a religious war. A great company of tradesmen, common people, and roughs was assembled, and these, with the clergy and students, set out, ostensibly for the accomplishment of a religious duty, but really bent on plunder and rapine. Most of these went to Barfurush and there joined the advance of Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, who, on reaching a village distant one farsang from the castle, sent a body of his men to reconnoitre and collect information about the movements of the Babi garrison." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 72-3.)]

No sooner had Mirza Muhammad-Baqir selected his companions than he ordered that the gate of the fort be flung open. Leaping upon their chargers and raising the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!" they plunged headlong into the camp of the enemy. The whole army fled in confusion before so terrific a charge. All but a few were able to escape. They reached Barfurush utterly demoralised and laden with shame. Abbas-Quli Khan was so shaken with fear that he fell from his horse. Leaving, in his distress, one of his boots hanging from the stirrup, he ran away, half shod and bewildered, in the direction which the army had taken. Filled with despair, he hastened to the prince and confessed the ignominious reverse he had sustained.[1] Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, on his part, emerging together with his eighteen companions unscathed from that encounter, and holding in his hand the <p388> 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.

[1 "The reverend divines, who with their pupils, had come to take part in the holy war, were scarce able to sleep at night for fear (though their quarters were in a place distant two farsangs from the castle), and continually in their conversation would they roundly abuse the prince and Abbas-Quli Khan and curse the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama'; 'for,' said they, 'these have, without sufficient reason, taken us away from our studies, our discussions, and the earning of our livelihood, besides bringing us into dire peril; since to fight with men like these, who have renounced the world and carry their lives in their hands, is to incur great risk.' So the holy verse, 'Cast not yourselves into peril with your own hands,' became their daily utterance. One said: 'Certain circumstances exonerate me from the duty of taking part in this war at present.' Another (adducing thirty different pretexts) said: I am lawfully excused and am compelled to turn back.' A third said: 'I have little children dependant on me; what can I do?' A fourth said: 'I have made no provision for my wife, so I must go, but, should it be necessary, I will return again.' A fifth said: 'My accounts with certain persons are not yet settled; should I fall a martyr my wealth will be wasted and an injustice will be done to my wife and children; and both waste and injustice are condemned as repugnant to our holy religion and displeasing to God.' A sixth said: 'I owe money to certain persons and have none to acquit me of my debt. Should I fall my debt will not allow me to cross the Bridge of Sirat.' A seventh said: 'I came away without the knowledge of my mother, and she had said to me: "Shouldst thou go I will make the milk wherewith I nourished thee unlawful to thee." I fear, therefore, that I may be cast off aa undutiful by my mother.' An eighth wept, saying: 'I have made a vow to visit Karbila this year; one circumambulation of the holy sepulchre of the Chief of Martyrs is equivalent in merit to a hundred thousand martyrdoms or a thousand pilgrimages to Mecca. I fear to fail in the fulfilment of my vow and to be disappointed of this great blessing.' Others said: 'We for our part, have neither seen in these people, nor heard of them aught that showeth them to be unbelievers, for they also say: "There is no god but God, Muhammad is the Apostle of God and Ali is the Friend of God." At most, they maintain that the advent of the Imam Mihdi has taken place. Let them be; for at all events they are no worse than the sunnis who reject the twelve Imams and the fourteen immaculate saints recognize such an one as Umar as caliph, prefer Uthman to Ali-ibn-i-Abi-Talib, and accept Abu-Bakr as the successor of our holy Prophet. Why should our divines leave those alone and fight with these about matter whereof the rights and wrongs have not been properly determined?' In short throughout the camp, murmurs arose from every tongue, and complaints from every mouth; each one sang a different tune and devised a different pretext; and all awaited but some plausible excuse to betake themselves to flight. So when Abbas-Quli Khan perceived this to be the case, he, fearing lest the contagion of their terror might spread to his soldiers, was forced to accept the excuses of these reverend divines and their disciples and followers, who forthwith departed, rejoicing greatly, and uttering prayers for the Sartip's success." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 74-6.)]

So complete a rout immediately brought relief to the hard-pressed companions. It cemented their unity and reminded them afresh of the efficacy of that power with which their Faith had endowed them. Their food, alas, was by this time reduced to the flesh of horses, which they had brought away with them from the deserted camp of the enemy. With steadfast fortitude they endured the afflictions which beset them from every side. Their hearts were set on the wishes of Quddus; all else mattered but little. Neither the severity of their distress nor the continual threats of the enemy could cause them to deviate a hairbreadth from the path which their departed companions had so heroically trodden. A few were found who subsequently faltered in the darkest hour of adversity. The faint-heartedness which this negligible element was compelled to betray paled, however, into insignificance before the radiance which the mass of their stouthearted companions shed in the hour of realised doom. <p389>

Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, who was stationed in Sari, welcomed with keen delight the news of the defeat that had overtaken the forces under the immediate command of his colleague Abbas-Quli Khan. Though himself desirous of extirpating the band that had sought shelter behind the walls of the fort, he rejoiced at the knowledge that his rival had failed to secure the victory which he coveted.[1] He wrote immediately to Tihran and demanded that reinforcements in the form of bomb-shells and camel-artillery, with all the necessary equipments, be despatched without delay to the neighbourhood of the fort, he being determined, this time, to effect the complete subjugation of its obstinate occupants.

[1 "Mihdi-Quli Mirza was somewhat surprised. He felt deeply disappointed, but what impressed him even more was that the Sardar could be considered as having been defeated as well as he, and this thought, flattering to his self-love, brought him no little pleasure. Not only did he no longer fear that one of his lieutenants might have won an enviable glory in taking the fortress of the Babis; but it was not he himself alone who had failed; he had a companion in misfortune and a companion whom he would succeed in proving responsible for the two defeats. Overjoyed he called together his chiefs great and small and apprised them of the news, deploring of course the tragic fate of the Sardar and expressing the ardent hope that this valiant soldier might be more fortunate in the future." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 179.)]

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

All that remained of the cattle they had brought with them to the fort was a cow which Haji Nasiru'd-Din-i-Qazvini had set aside, and the milk of which he made into a pudding every day for the table of Quddus. Unwilling to <p390> deny his hunger-stricken friends their share of the delicacy which his devoted companion prepared for him, Quddus would, after partaking of a few teaspoonfuls of that dish, invariably distribute the rest among them. "I have ceased to enjoy," he was often heard to remark, "since the departure of Mulla Husayn, the meat and drink which they prepare for me. My heart bleeds at the sight of my famished companions, worn and wasted around me." Despite these adverse circumstances, he unfailingly continued further to elucidate in his commentary the significance of the Sad of Samad, and to exhort his friends to persevere till the vary end in their heroic endeavours. At morn and at eventide, Mirza Muhammad-Baqir would chant, in the presence of the assembled believers, verses from that commentary, the reading of which would quicken their enthusiasm and brighten their hopes.

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

On the day of Naw-Ruz, which fell on the twenty-fourth of Rabi'u'th-Thani in the year 1265 A.H.,[1] Quddus alluded, in a written message to his companions, to the approach of such trials as would bring in their wake the martyrdom of a considerable number of his friends. A few days later, an innumerable host,[2] commanded by Prince Mihdi-Quli <p391> Mirza [3] and seconded by the joint forces of Sulayman Khan-i-Afshar, of Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani, and of Ja'far-Quli Khan, assisted by about forty other officers, encamped in the neighbourhood of the fort, and set about constructing a series of trenches and barricades in its immediate vicinity.[4] On the ninth day of the month of Baha,[5] the commanding officer gave orders to those in charge of his artillery to open fire in the direction of the besieged. While the bombardment was in progress, Quddus emerged from his room and walked to the centre of the fort. His face was wreathed in smiles, and his demeanour breathed forth the utmost tranquillity. As he was pacing the floor, a cannon-ball fell suddenly before him. "How utterly unaware," he calmly remarked, as he rolled it with his foot, "are these boastful aggressors of the power of God's avenging wrath! Have they forgotten that a creature as insignificant as the gnat was capable of extinguishing <p392> the life of the all-powerful Nimrod? Have they not heard that the roaring of the tempest was sufficient to destroy the people of Ad and Thamud and to annihilate their forces? Seek they to intimidate the heroes of God, in whose sight the pomp of royalty is but an empty shadow, with such contemptible evidences of their cruelty?" "You are," he added, as he turned to his friends, "those same companions of whom Muhammad, the Apostle of God, has thus spoken: 'Oh, how I long to behold the countenance of my brethren; my brethren who will appear in the end of the world! Blessed are we, blessed are they; greater is their blessedness than ours.' Beware lest you allow the encroachments of self and desire to impair so glorious a station. Fear not the threats of the wicked, neither be dismayed by the clamour of the ungodly. Each one of you has his appointed hour, and when that time is come, neither the assaults of your enemy nor the endeavours of your friends will be able either to retard or to advance that hour. If the powers of the earth league themselves against you, they will be powerless, ere that hour strikes, to lessen by one jot or tittle the span of your life. Should you allow your hearts to be agitated for but one moment by the booming of these guns which, with increasing violence, will continue to shower their shot upon this fort, you will have cast yourselves out of the stronghold of Divine protection."

[1 1849 A.D.]

[2 "The Prince assigned to each one his post during the siege; he entrusted Haji Khan Nuri and Mirza Abdu'llah Navayy with the responsibility of securing adequate supplies. As military leaders, he selected the Sardar Abbas-Quli-i-Larijani, towards whom, since his recent failure, he was showing more sympathy; then Nasru'llah Khan-i-Bandibi, another chieftain, and Mustafa Khan from Ashraf to whom he gave the command of the brave tufang-chis of that city and also the command of the suritis. Other lesser lords led the men of Dudankih and Bala-Rastaq as well as several Turkish and Kurdish nomads who were not included in the bands of the great chiefs. These nomads were entrusted with the special duty of watching every move of the enemy. Past experience had convinced them that they should be more vigilant in the future. Turks and Kurds were given therefore the responsibility of following, night and day, the operations of the enemy and to be ever on the alert in order to prevent possible surprises." (Ibid., p. 181.)]

[3 "Mihdi-Quli Mirza, however, wished to combine recent strategy with old military technique and ordered to be brought from Tihran two cannon and two mortars with the necessary ammunition. He also enlisted the assistance of a man from Hirat who had discovered an explosive substance which could project flames to a distance of seven hundred meters and set fire to anything combustible within that radius. A trial test was made and it proved satisfactory; the burning material was shot out into the fort, a conflagration started immediately and all the dwellings or shelters whether of wood, of reeds or of straw, which the Babis had erected, either within the enclosure or upon the walls, were reduced to ashes. "While this destruction went on, the bombs and bullets shot from the mortars seriously damaged a building hastily erected by men who were neither architects nor engineers and had never anticipated an artillery attack. In a very short time, the outer defences of the fortress were dismantled; nothing was left of them but fallen girders, smoked and burning timbers, scattered stones." (Ibid., pp. 181-182.)]

[4 "After taking these precautions, they dug holes and trenches for the use of the tufang-chis who were ordered to shoot down any Babis who might appear. They built large towers as high as the various levels of the fortress or even higher and, through a continuous plunging fire, they rendered the circulation of the Babis within their fort extremely dangerous. It was a decided advantage for the besiegers, but, in a few days, the Babi chiefs, taking advantage of the long nights, raised their fortifications so that their height exceeded that of the attacking towers of the enemy." (Ibid., p. 181.)]

[5 The ninth day after Naw-Ruz.]

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.[1]

[1 "Once indeed, some few of them did go out to try to obtain a little tea and sugar for Jinab-i-Quddus. The most notable of these was Mulla Sa'id of Zarkanad. Now he was a man so accomplished in science that when certain learned men of the kindred of Mulla Muhammad-Taqi of Nur addressed to Jinab-i-Quddus in writing certain questions touching the science of divination and astrology, the latter said to Mulla Sa'id: 'Do you speedily write for them a brief and compendious reply that their messenger be not kept waiting and a more detailed answer shall be written subsequently.' So Mulla Sa'id though hurried by the presence of the messenger and distracted by the turmoil of the siege rapidly penned a most eloquent address wherein while replying to the questions asked he introduced nearly a hundred well-authenticated traditions bearing on the truth of the new Manifestation of the promised Proof besides several which foreshadowed the halting of those who had believed in the Lord about Tabarsi and their martyrdom The learned men of Nur were amazed beyond all measure at his erudition and said: 'Candour compels us to admit that such a presentation of these matters is a great miracle, and that such erudition and eloquence are far beyond the Mulla Sa'id whom we knew. Assuredly this talent hath been bestowed on him from on high and he in turn hath made it manifest to us.' Now Mulla Sa'id and his companions, while they were without the castle fell into the hands of the royal troops and were by them carried before the prince. The prince strove by every means to extract from them some information about the state of the Babi garrison their numbers and the amount of their munitions; but do what he would, he could gain nothing. So when he perceived Mulla Sa'id to be a man of talent and understanding he said to him: 'Repent, and I will release you and not suffer you to be slain.' To this Mulla Sa'id replied 'Never did anyone repent of obedience to God's command; why then should I? Rather do you repent who are acting contrary to His good pleasure, and more evilly than anyone hath heretofore done.' And he spoke much more after the same fashion. So at length they sent him to Sari in chains and fetters and there slew him under circumstances of the utmost cruelty along with his companions, who appear to have been five in number." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 79-80.)] <p393>

The army of Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza continued for a few days to fire in the direction of the fort. His men were surprised to find that the booming of their guns had failed to silence the voice of prayer and the acclamations of joy which the besieged raised in answer to their threats. Instead of the unconditional surrender which they expected, the call of the muadhdhin,[1] the chanting of the verses of the Qur'an, and the chorus of gladsome voices intoning hymns of thanksgiving and praise reached their ears without ceasing.

[1 See Glossary.]

Exasperated by these evidences of unquenchable fervour and impelled by a burning desire to extinguish the enthusiasm which swelled within the breasts of his opponents, Ja'far-quli Khan erected a tower, upon which he stationed his cannon,[1] and from that eminence directed his fire into the heart of the fort. Quddus immediately summoned Mirza Muhammad-Baqir and instructed him to sally again and inflict upon the "boastful newcomer" a humiliation no less crushing than the one which Abbas-Quli Khan had suffered. <p394> "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."

[1 "Thus the latter constructed four towers on the four sides of the castle, and raised them so high that they were able to command the interior of the fortress with their guns, and to make the garrison targets for their bullets. Then the faithful, seeing this, began to dig subterranean passages and to retreat thither. But the ground of Mazindaran lies near the water and is saturated with moisture, added to which rain fell continually, increasing the damage, so that these poor sufferers dwelt amidst mud and water till their garments rotted away with damp.... Whenever one of their comrades quaffed the draught of martyrdom before their eyes, instead of grieving they rejoiced. Thus, for instance, on one occasion bomb-shell fell on the roof of a hut, which caught fire. Shaykh Salih of Shiraz went to extinguish the fire. A bullet struck his head and shattered his skull. Even as they were raising his corpse a second bullet carried away the hand of Aqa Mirza Muhammad Ali, the son of Siyyid Ahmad who was the father of Aqa Siyyid Husayn, 'the beloved.' So too, was Aqa Siyyid Husayn 'the beloved,' a child ten years of age slain before his father's eyes and he fell rolling in mud and gore, with limbs quivering like those of a half-killed bird." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 81-3.)]

Mirza Muhammad-Baqir again ordered eighteen of his companions to hurry to their steeds and follow him. The gates of the fort were thrown open, and the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!" --fiercer and more thrilling than ever--diffused panic and consternation in the ranks of the enemy. Ja'far-Quli Khan, with thirty of his men, fell before the sword of their adversary, who rushed to the tower, captured the guns, and hurled them to the ground. Thence they threw themselves upon the barricade which had been erected, demolished a number of them, and would, but for the approaching darkness, have captured and destroyed the rest.

Triumphant and unhurt, they repaired to the fort, carrying back with them a number of the stoutest and best-fed stallions which had been left behind. A few days elapsed during which there was no sign of a counter-attack.[1] 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.[2] 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 <p395> 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.[3] As their strength declined, as they languished exhausted within the walls of their fort, Quddus multiplied his visits to them, and endeavoured by his words of cheer and of hope to lighten the load of their agony.

[1 "This state of affairs had lasted four months. The Shah began to grow impatient. The success of the Babis aroused his anger which according to the Persian historian he expressed thus: 'We thought that our army would go without hesitation through fire and water, that, fearless, it would fight a lion or a whale, but we have sent it to fight a handful of weak and defenseless men and it has achieved nothing! Do the notables of Mazindaran think that we approve of this delay? Is it their policy to allow this conflagration to spread in order to magnify their importance in case they later put an end to it? Very well, let them know that I shall act as though Allah had never created Mazindaran and I shall exterminate its inhabitants to the last man!" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 322.)]

[2 "The siege had been going on for four months and had made no visible progress. The old fortifications had been destroyed but, with indomitable energy, the Babis had built new ones and, night and day, they restored and enlarged them. It was impossible to foresee the outcome of this situation, the more so because, as I have already said, Mazindaran was not the only region in Persia where the devotees of the new Faith were giving evidence of their zeal and their daring. The King and the prime minister, in their anxiety, burst forth into abuse against their lieutenants. Not only did they charge them with incompetence, in the most bitter terms, but they threatened to extend to them the same treatment planned for the Babis, if a final settlement were not reached without delay. Thereupon, the command was taken from Mihdi-Quli Mirza and given to the Afshar Sulayman Khan, a man of acknowledged firmness and of great influence, not only in his own tribe, one of the noblest in Persia, but throughout the military circles who knew him and held him in high esteem. He was given the most rigorous orders." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 183-184.) .."Those who remained firm had already consumed not only all their food supply, but such grass as they could find in the enclosure and the bark of all the trees. There remained only the leather of their belts and the scabbards of their swords. They had to resort to the expedient recommended by the Spanish ambassador to the soldiers of the league besieged in Paris; they ground the bones of the dead and made flour with the dust thereof. At last, desperate, they were reduced to perpetrate a sort of profanation. The horse of Mulla Husayn had died of the wounds suffered during that fatal night which witnessed the death of its master. The Babis had buried it out of regard for their holy leader and a little of the deep veneration which all felt for him hovered over the grave of the poor animal. They held council and, deploring the necessity for such a discussion, they debated the question whether extreme distress could justify them to disinter the sacred charger and eat the remains. With deep sorrow, they agreed that the deed was justifiable. They cooked the remains of the horse with the flour made from the bones of the dead, they ate this strange mixture and took up their guns once more!" (Ibid., pp 186-187.)]

[3 Abdu'l-Baha refers, in the "Memorials of the Faithful" (pp. 16-17) to the hardships and sufferings endured by the heroic defenders of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi He pays a glowing tribute to the constancy, the zeal and courage of the besieged, mentioning in particular Mulla Sadiq-i-Muqaddas. "For eighteen days," He says, "they remained without food. They lived on the leather of their shoes. This too was soon consumed, and they had nothing left but water. They drank a mouthful every morning and lay famished and exhausted in their fort. When attacked, however, they would instantly spring to their feet, and manifest in the face of the enemy a magnificent courage and astonishing resistance.... Under such circumstances to maintain an unwavering faith and patience is extremely difficult, and to endure such dire afflictions a rare phenomenon."]

The month of Jamadiyu'th-Thani [1] had just begun when the artillery of the enemy was heard again discharging its showers of balls upon the fort. Simultaneously with the booming of the cannons, a detachment of the army, headed by a number of officers and consisting of several regiments of infantry and cavalry, rushed to storm it. The sound of their approach impelled Quddus to summon promptly his valiant lieutenant, Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, and to bid him emerge with thirty-six of his companions and repulse their attack. <p396> "Never since our occupation of this fort," he added, "have we under any circumstances attempted to direct any offensive against our opponents. Not until they unchained their attack upon us did we arise to defend our lives. Had we cherished the ambition of waging holy war against them, had we harboured the least intention of achieving ascendancy through the power of our arms over the unbelievers, we should not, until this day, have remained besieged within these walls. The force of our arms would have by now, as was the case with the companions of Muhammad in days past, convulsed the nations of the earth and prepared them for the acceptance of our Message. Such is not the way, however, which we have chosen to tread. Ever since we repaired to this fort, our sole, our unalterable purpose has been the vindication, by our deeds and by our readiness to shed our blood in the path of our Faith, of the exalted character of our mission. The hour is fast approaching when we shall be able to consummate this task."

[1 April 24-May 23, 1849 A.D.]

Mirza Muhammad-Baqir once more leaped on horseback and, with the thirty-six companions whom he had selected, confronted and scattered the forces which had beset him. He carried with him, as he re-entered the gate, the banner which an alarmed enemy had abandoned as soon as the reverberating cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!" had been raised. Five of his companions suffered martyrdom in the course of that engagement, all of whom he bore to the fort and interred in one tomb close to the resting place of their fallen brethren.

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

As the prince was waiting for the consummation of the plan he had conceived, there arrived from Tihran a messenger <p397> bearing to him the farman [1] of his sovereign. This man was a resident of the village of Kand, a place not far from the capital. He succeeded in obtaining leave from the prince to enter the fort and attempt to induce two of its occupants, Mulla Mihdi and his brother Mulla Baqir-i-Kandi, to escape from the imminent danger to which their lives were exposed. As he approached its walls, he called the sentinels and asked them to inform Mulla Mihdiy-Kandi that an acquaintance of his desired to see him. Mulla Mihdi reported the matter to Quddus, who permitted him to meet his friend.

[1 See Glossary.]

I have heard Aqay-i-Kalim give the following account, as related to him by that same messenger whom he met in Tihran: "'I saw,' the messenger informed me, 'Mulla Mihdi appear above the wall of the fort, his countenance revealing an expression of stern resolve that baffled description. He looked as fierce as a lion, his sword was girded on over a long white shirt after the manner of the Arabs, and he had a white kerchief around his head. "What is it that you seek?" he impatiently enquired. "Say it quickly, for I fear that my master will summon me and find me absent." The determination that glowed in his eyes confused me. I was dumbfounded at his looks and manner. The thought suddenly flashed through my mind that I would awaken a dormant sentiment in his heart. I reminded him of his infant child, Rahman, whom he had left behind in the village, in his eagerness to enlist under the standard of Mulla Husayn. In his great affection for the child, he had specially composed a poem which he chanted as he rocked his cradle and lulled him to sleep. "Your beloved Rahman," I said, "longs for the affection which you once lavished upon him. He is alone and forsaken, and yearns to see you." "Tell him from me," was the father's instant reply, "that the love of the true Rahman,[1] 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!" <p398> "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.'"

[1 Reference to God, the word Rahman meaning "merciful."]

As soon as he had joined his companions, Mulla Mihdi conveyed the prince's message to them. On the afternoon of that same day, Siyyid Mirza Husayn-i-Mutavalli, accompanied by his servant, left the fort and went directly to join the prince in his camp. The next day, Rasul-i-Bahnimiri and a few other of his companions, unable to resist the ravages of famine, and encouraged by the explicit assurances <p399> 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 Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani.

During the few days that elapsed after that incident, the enemy, still encamped in the neighbourhood of the fort, refrained from any act of hostility towards Quddus and his companions. On Wednesday morning, the sixteenth of Jamadiyu'th-Thani,[1] 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.[2]

[1 May 9, 1849 A.D.]

[2 "This stark and desperate bravery, this unquenchable enthusiasm gave grave concern to the leaders of the imperial army. Despairing to break through the fortification after repeated defeats, they thought of resorting to shrewdness. The Prince was naturally shrewd and Sulayman Khan-i-Afshar, recently sent by the Shah, was urging such a method, fearful that longer delays might endanger his prestige and his life." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 325.) ]

Accordingly, Quddus instructed Mulla Yusuf-i-Ardibili and Siyyid Riday-i-Khurasani to act as his representatives, and bade them inform the prince of his readiness to accede to his wish. Mihdi-Quli Mirza courteously received them, and invited them to partake of the tea which he had prepared. "We should," they said, as they declined his offer, "feel it to be an act of disloyalty on our part were we to partake of either meat or drink whilst our beloved leader languishes worn and famished in the fort." "The hostilities between us," the prince remarked, "have been unduly prolonged. We, on both sides, have fought long and suffered grievously. It is my fervent wish to achieve an amicable settlement of our differences." He took hold of a copy of the Qur'an that lay beside him, and wrote, with his own hand, in confirmation of his statement, the following words on the margin of the opening Surih: "I swear by this most holy Book, by the righteousness of God who has revealed it, and the Mission of Him who was inspired with its verses, that I cherish no other purpose than to promote peace and friendliness between us. Come forth from your stronghold and rest assured that no hand will be stretched forth against you. You yourself <p400> and your companions, I solemnly declare, are under the sheltering protection of the Almighty, of Muhammad, His Prophet, and of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, our sovereign. I pledge my honour that no man, either in this army or in this neighbourhood, will ever attempt to assail you. The malediction of God, the omnipotent Avenger, rest upon me if in my heart I cherish any other desire than that which I have stated.

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

Quddus received the Qur'an from the hand of his messenger, kissed it reverently, and said: "O our Lord, decide between us and between our people with truth; for the best to decide art Thou."[1] 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."

[1 Qur'an, 7:88.]

As the hour of their departure approached, Quddus attired his head with the green turban which the Bab had sent to him at the time He sent the one that Mulla Husayn wore on the day of his martyrdom. At the gate of the fort, they mounted the horses which had been placed at their disposal, Quddus mounting the favourite steed of the prince which the latter had sent for his use. His chief companions, among whom were a number of siyyids and learned divines, rode behind him, and were followed by the rest, who marched on foot, carrying with them all that was left of their arms and belongings. As the company, who were two hundred and two in number, reached the tent which the prince had ordered to be pitched for Quddus in the vicinity of the public bath <p401> of the village of Dizva, overlooking the camp of the enemy, they alighted and proceeded to occupy their lodgings in the neighbourhood of that tent.

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

A few hours after sunset, they were served with dinner brought from the camp of the prince. The food that was offered them in separate trays, each of which was assigned to a group of thirty companions, was poor and scanty. "Nine of us," those who were with Quddus subsequently related, "were summoned by our leader to partake of the dinner which had been served in his tent. As he refused to taste it, we too, following his example, refrained from eating. The attendants who waited upon us were delighted to partake of the dishes which we had refused to touch, and devoured their contents with appreciation and avidity." A few of the companions <p402> who were dining outside the tent were heard remonstrating with the attendants, pleading that they were willing to buy from them, at however exorbitant a price, the bread which they needed. Quddus strongly disapproved of their conduct and rebuked them for the request they had made. But for the intercession of Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, he would have severely punished them for having so completely disregarded his earnest exhortations.

At daybreak a messenger arrived, summoning Mirza Muhammad-Baqir to the presence of the prince. With the consent of Quddus, he responded to that invitation, and returned an hour later, informing his chief that the prince had, in the presence of Sulayman Khan-i-Afshar, reiterated the assurances he had given, and had treated him with great consideration and kindness. "'My oath,' he assured me," Mirza Muhammad-Baqir explained, "'is irrevocable and sacred.' He cited the case of Ja'far-Quli Khan, who, notwithstanding his shameless massacre of thousands of soldiers of the imperial army, in the course of the insurrection fomented by the Salar, was pardoned by his sovereign and promptly invested with fresh honours by Muhammad Shah. To-morrow the prince intends to accompany you in the morning to the public bath, from whence he will proceed to your tent, after which he will provide the horses required to convey the entire company to Sang-Sar, from where they will disperse, some returning to their homes in Iraq, and others proceeding to Khurasan. At the request of Sulayman Khan, who urged that the presence of such a large gathering at such a fortified centre as Sang-Sar would be fraught with risk, the prince decided that the party should disperse, instead, at Firuz-Kuh. I am of opinion that what his tongue professes, his heart does not believe at all." Quddus, who shared his view, bade his companions disperse that very night, and stated that he himself would soon proceed to Barfurush. They hastened to implore him not to separate himself from them, and begged to be allowed to continue to enjoy the blessings of his companionship. He counselled them to be calm and patient, and assured them that, whatever afflictions the future might yet reveal, they would meet again. "Weep not," were his parting words; "the reunion which will follow this separation <p403> will be such as shall eternally endure. We have committed our Cause to the care of God; whatever be His will and pleasure, the same we joyously accept."

The prince failed to redeem his promise. Instead of joining Quddus in his tent, he called him, with several of his companions, to his headquarters, and informed him, as soon as they reached the tent of the Farrash-Bashi,[1] that he himself would summon him at noon to his presence. Shortly after, a number of the prince's attendants went and told the rest of the companions that Quddus permitted them to join him at the army's headquarters. Several of them were deceived by this report, were made captives, and were eventually sold as slaves. These unfortunate victims constitute the remnant of the companions of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi, who survived that heroic struggle and were spared to transmit to their countrymen the woeful tale of their sufferings and trials.

[1 See Glossary.]

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

he was mercilessly put to death.

From this savage act they turned their attention to the fort, plundered it of its contents, and proceeded to bombard and demolish it completely.[1] 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.[2] In the <p404> 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.

[1 "All the fortifications constructed by the Babis were razed to the ground and even the ground was leveled to remove any evidences of the heroic defense of those who had died for their Faith. They imagined that this would silence history." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 327.)]

[2 "They formed them in a line and made sport of cutting open their stomachs. This amused them the more because, from the perforated intestines, issued grass still undigested, striking evidence of the sufferings they had endured and also of the faith that had sustained them. Some, very few, succeeded in escaping into the forest." (Ibid.)]

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 recognized standing, such as the father of Badi',[1] Mulla Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi, and Haji Nasir-i-Qazvini,[2] he charged his attendants to conduct to Tihran and obtain in return for their deliverance a ransom from each one of them in direct proportion to their capacity and wealth. As to the rest, he gave orders to his executioners that they be immediately put to death. A few were cut to pieces with the sword,[3] others were torn asunder, a number were bound to trees and riddled with bullets, and still others were blown <p405> from the mouths of cannons and consigned to the flames.[4]

[1 Haji Abdu'l-Majid-i-Nishaburi, who was eventually martyred in Khurasan.]

[2 "It was then, says Mirza Jani, that Islam gave a shameful exhibition to the world. The victors, if they can be so called, wished to enjoy the intoxication of their triumph. They bound in chains Quddus, Mirza Muhammad-Hasan Khan, brother of the Babu'l-Bab, Akhund Mulla Muhammad-Sadiq-i-Khurasani, Mirza Muhammad Sadiq-i-Khurasani, Haji Mirza Hasan Khurasani, Shaykh Ni'matu'llah-i-Amuli, Haji Nasir-i-Qazvini, Mulla Yusuf-i-Ardibili, Aqa Siyyid Abdu'l-'Aim-i-Khu'i and several others. These they placed at the center of the parade which started out at the sound of the trumpets, and, every time they went through an inhabited section, they struck them." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 327-328.) "The cruelty went further still. If a few escaped death, having been sold into slavery, others were tortured until they died. Those who found kindly masters were Akhund Mulla Muhammad-Sadiq-i-Khurasani, Mulla Muhammad-i-Mahvalatiy-i-Dugh-Abadi, Aqa Siyyid Azim-i-Khu'i, Haji Nasir-i-Qazvini, Haji Abdu'l-Majid-i-Nishaburi and Mirza Husayn-i-Matavalliy-i-Qumi. Four Babis suffered martyrdom at Barfurush, two were sent to Amul; one of these was Mulla Ni'matu'llah-i-Amuli, the other Mirza Muhammad-Baqir-i-Khurasaniy-i-Qa'ini, cousin of our Babi author. "Qa'ini lived previously at Mashhad, on the avenue called Khiyaban-Bala, and his house, which had been named 'Babiyyih,' was the rendezvous of the secretaries as well as the home for the co-religionists journeying through. It is there that Quddus and the Babu'l-Bab sojourned on their way to Khurasan. Besides his religious knowledge, Qa'ini was very skillful with his hands and it was he who designed the fortifications of Shaykh-Tabarsi." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 329.)]

[3 "As to the other prisoners they were made to lie down on the ground and the executioners cut open their stomachs. It was noticed that several of these unfortunates had raw grass in their intestines. This massacre completed, they found that there was still more to be done and they assassinated the fugitives who had already been pardoned. There were women and children and even fifty were not spared and their throats were cut. It was indeed a full day with much killing and no risk!" (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 189.) "On his arrival at Amul, Mulla Ni'matu'llah was tortured with ruthless ferocity. Apparently, this scene threw Qa'ini into a fit of rage. In any case, when the executioner approached, Qa'ini, breaking his bonds, jumped upon him, snatched his sword and struck him with such violence that his head rolled about fifteen feet away. The crowd rushed upon him but, terrible in his strength, he mowed down all those who came within his reach and they had finally to shoot him with a rifle in order to subdue him. After his death, they found in his pocket a piece of roasted horse flesh proof of the misery that he had endured for his faith !" (Ibid., pp. 329-330.)]

[4 "The whole world marvelled at the manner of their sacrifice.... The mind is bewildered at their deeds and the soul marvelleth at their fortitude and bodily endurance.... These holy lights have for eighteen years, heroically endured the showers of afflictions which, from every side have rained upon them With what love, what devotion, what exultation and holy rapture they sacrificed their lives in the path of the All-Glorious! To the truth of this all witness. And yet how can they belittle this Revelation? Hath any age witnessed such momentous happenings? If these companions be not the true strivers after God, who else could be called by this name? Have these companions been seekers after power or glory? Have they ever yearned for riches? Have they cherished any desire except the good pleasure of God? If these companions with all their marvellous testimonies and wondrous works be false who then is worthy to claim for himself the truth? By God! their very deeds are a sufficient testimony, and an irrefutable proof unto all the peoples of the earth, were men to ponder in their hearts the mysteries of Divine Revelation. 'And they who act unjustly shall soon know what a lot awaiteth them!'" (The "Kitab-i-Iqan," pp. 189-91.)]

This terrible butchery had hardly been concluded when three of the companions of Quddus, who were residents of Sang-Sar, were ushered into the presence of the prince. One of them was Siyyid Ahmad, whose father, Mir Muhammad-'Ali, a devoted admirer of Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i, had been a man of great learning and distinguished merit. He, accompanied by this same Siyyid Ahmad and his brother, Mir Abu'l-Qasim, who met his death the very night on which Mulla Husayn was slain, had departed for Karbila in the year preceding the declaration of the Bab, with the intention of introducing his two sons to Siyyid Kazim. Ere his arrival, the siyyid had departed this life. He immediately determined to leave for Najaf. While in that city, the Prophet Muhammad one night appeared to him in a dream, bidding the Imam Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, announce to him that after his death both his sons, Siyyid Ahmad and Mir Abu'l-Qasim, would attain the presence of the promised Qa'im and would each suffer martyrdom in His path. As soon as he awoke, he called for his son Siyyid Ahmad and acquainted him with his will and last wishes. On the seventh day after that dream he died.

In Sang-Sar two other persons, Karbila'i Ali and Karbila'i Abu-Muhammad, both known for their piety and spiritual insight, strove to prepare the people for the acceptance of <p406> the promised Revelation, the advent of which they felt was fast approaching. In the year 1264 A.H.[1] they publicly announced that in that very year a man named Siyyid Ali would, preceded by a Black Standard and accompanied by a number of his chosen companions, set forth from Khurasan and proceed to Mazindaran. They urged every loyal adherent of Islam to arise and lend him every possible assistance. "The standard which he will hoist," they declared, "will be none other than the standard of the promised Qa'im; he who will unfurl it, none other than His lieutenant and chief promoter of His Cause. Whoso follows him will be saved, and he who turns away will be among the fallen." Karbila'i Abu-Muhammad urged his two sons, Abu'l-Qasim and Muhammad-'Ali, to arise for the triumph of the new Revelation and to sacrifice every material consideration for the attainment of that end. Both Karbila'i Abu-Muhammad and Karbila'i Ali died in the spring of that same year.

[1 1847-8 A.D.]

These two sons of Karbila'i Abu-Muhammad were the two companions who had been ushered, together with Siyyid Ahmad, into the presence of the prince. Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin-i-Shahmirzadi, one of the trusted and learned counsellors of the government, acquainted the prince with their story and related the experiences and activities of their respective fathers. "For what reason," Siyyid Ahmad was asked, "have you chosen to tread a path that has involved you and your kinsmen in such circumstances of wretchedness and disgrace? Could you not have been satisfied with the vast number of erudite and illustrious divines who are to be found in this land and in Iraq?" "My faith in this Cause," he fearlessly retorted, "is born not of idle imitation. I have dispassionately enquired into its precepts, and am convinced of its truth. When in Najaf, I ventured to request the preeminent mujtahid of that city, Shaykh Muhammad-Hasan-i-Najafi, to expound for me certain truths connected with the secondary principles underlying the teachings of Islam. He refused to accede to my request. I reiterated my appeal, whereupon he angrily rebuked me and persisted in his refusal. How can I, in the light of such experience, be expected to seek enlightenment on the abstruse articles of the Faith <p407> of Islam from a divine, however illustrious, who refuses to answer my question on such simple and ordinary matters and who expresses his indignation at my having put such questions to him?" "What is your belief concerning Haji Muhammad-'Ali?" asked the prince. "We believe," he replied, "Mulla Husayn to have been the bearer of the standard of which Muhammad has spoken: 'Should your eyes behold the Black Standards proceeding from Khurasan, hasten ye towards them, even though ye should have to crawl over the snow.' For this reason we have renounced the world and have flocked to his standard, a standard which is but a symbol of our Faith. If you wish to bestow upon me a favour, bid your executioner put an end to me and enable me to be gathered to the company of my immortal companions. For the world and all its charms have ceased to allure me. I long to depart this life and return to my God." The prince, who was reluctant to take the life of a siyyid, refused to order his execution. His two companions, however, were immediately put to death. He, with his brother Siyyid Abu-Talib, was delivered into the hands of Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin, who was instructed to conduct them to Sang-Sar.

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

No sooner had Mirza Muhammad-Taqi taken the direction of Sari than he proceeded to vilify Siyyid Ahmad and his father. "Why ill-treat a guest," his captive pleaded, "whom the prince has committed to your charge? Why ignore the Prophet's injunction, 'Honour thy guest though he be an infidel'?" Roused to a burst of fury, Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, <p408> together with his seven companions, drew their swords and cut his body to pieces. With his last breath Siyyid Ahmad was heard invoking the aid of the Sahibu'z-Zaman. As to his brother Siyyid Abu-Talib, he was safely conducted to Sang-Sar by Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin, and to this day resides with his brother Siyyid Muhammad-Rida in Mazindaran. Both are engaged in the service of the Cause and are accounted among its active supporters.

As soon as his work was completed, the prince, accompanied by Quddus, returned to Barfurush. They arrived on Friday afternoon, the eighteenth of Jamadiyu'th-Thani.[1] The Sa'idu'l-'Ulama', together with all the ulamas of the town, came out to welcome the prince and to extend their congratulations on his triumphal return. The whole town was beflagged to celebrate the victory, and the bonfires which blazed at night witnessed to the joy with which a grateful population greeted the return of the prince. Three days of festivities elapsed during which he gave no indication as to his intention regarding the fate of Quddus. He vacillated in his policy, and was extremely reluctant to ill-treat his captive. He at first refused to allow the people to gratify their feelings of unrelenting hatred, and was able to restrain their fury. He had originally intended to conduct him to Tihran and, by delivering him into the hands of his sovereign, to relieve himself of the responsibility which weighed upon him.

[1 May 11, 1849 A.D. ]

The Sa'idu'l-'Ulama''s unquenchable hostility, however, interfered with the execution of this plan. The hatred with which Quddus and his Cause inspired him blazed into furious rage as he witnessed the increasing evidences of the prince's inclination to allow so formidable an opponent to slip from his grasp. Day and night he remonstrated with him and, with every cunning that his resourceful brain could devise, sought to dissuade him from pursuing a policy which he thought to be at once disastrous and cowardly. In the fury of his despair, he appealed to the mob and sought, by inflaming their passions, to awaken the basest sentiments of revenge in their hearts. The whole of Barfurush had been aroused by the persistency of his call. His diabolical skill <p409> soon won him the sympathy and support of the masses. "I have vowed," he imperiously protested, "to deny myself both food and sleep until such time as I am able to end the life of Haji Muhammad-'Ali with my own hands!" The threats of an agitated multitude reinforced his plea and succeeded in arousing the apprehensions of the prince. Fearing that his own life might be endangered, he summoned to his presence the leading ulamas of Barfurush for the purpose of consulting as to the measures that should be taken to allay the tumult of popular excitement. All those who had been invited responded with the exception of Mulla Muhammad-i-Hamzih, who pleaded to be excused from attending that meeting. He had previously, on several occasions, endeavoured, during the siege of the fort, to persuade the people to refrain from violence. To him Quddus, a few days before his abandonment of the fort, had committed, through one of his trusted companions of Mazindaran, a locked saddlebag containing the text of his own interpretation of the Sad of Samad as well as all his other writings and papers that he had in his possession, the fate of which remains unknown until the present day.

No sooner had the ulamas assembled than the prince gave orders for Quddus to be brought into their presence. Since the day of his abandoning the fort, Quddus, who had been delivered into the custody of the Farrash-Bashi, had not been summoned to his presence. As soon as he arrived, the prince arose and invited him to be seated by his side. Turning to the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama', he urged that his conversations with him be dispassionately and conscientiously conducted. "Your discussions," he asserted, "must revolve around, and be based upon, the verses of the Qur'an and the traditions of Muhammad, by which means alone you can demonstrate the truth or falsity of your contentions." "For what reason," the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' impertinently enquired, "have you, by choosing to place a green turban upon your head, arrogated to yourself a right which only he who is a true descendant of the Prophet can claim? Do you not know that whoso defies this sacred tradition is accursed of God?" "Was Siyyid Murtada," Quddus calmly replied, "whom all the recognized ulamas praise and esteem, a descendant of <p410> the Prophet through his father or his mother?" One of those present at that gathering instantly declared the mother alone to have been a siyyid. "Why, then, object to me," retorted Quddus, "since my mother was always recognized by the inhabitants of this town as a lineal descendant of the Imam Hasan? Was she not, because of her descent, honoured, nay venerated, by every one of you?"

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

No sooner had the prince freed them from the restraints which he had exercised than the ulamas and the people of Barfurush, acting under orders from the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama',[1] arose to perpetrate upon the body of their victim acts of such atrocious cruelty as no pen can describe. By the testimony of Baha'u'llah, that heroic youth, who was still on the threshold of his life, was subjected to such tortures and suffered <p411> such a death as even Jesus had not faced in the hour of His greatest agony. The absence of any restraint on the part of the government authorities, the ingenious barbarity which the torture-mongers of Barfurush so ably displayed, the fierce fanaticism which glowed in the breasts of its shi'ah inhabitants, the moral support accorded to them by the dignitaries of Church and State in the capital--above all, the acts of heroism which their victim and his companions had accomplished and which had served to heighten their exasperation, all combined to nerve the hand of the assailants and to add to the diabolical ferocity which characterised his martyrdom.

[1 "The Babis call attention to the fact that shortly afterwards a strange disease afflicted Sa'idu'l-'Ulama'. In spite of the furs which he wore, in spite of the fire which burned constantly in his room, he shivered with cold yet, at the same time, his fever was so high, that nothing could quench his intolerable thirst. He died, and his house, which was very beautiful, was abandoned and finally crumbled into ruins. Little by little, the practice grew of dumping refuse on the site where it had once so proudly stood. This so impressed the Mazindaranis that when they quarrel among themselves, the final insult frequently is, 'May thy house meet the same fate as the house of Sa'idu'l-'Ulama!'" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 330.)]

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

Amidst his torments, Quddus was heard whispering forgiveness to his foes. "Forgive, O my God," he cried, "the trespasses of this people. Deal with them in Thy mercy, for they know not what we already have discovered and cherish. I have striven to show them the path that leads to their salvation; behold how they have risen to overwhelm and kill me! Show them, O God, the way of Truth, and turn their ignorance into faith." In his hour of agony, the Siyyid-i-Qumi, <p412> who had so treacherously deserted the fort, was seen passing by his side. Observing his helplessness, he smote him in the face. "You claimed," he cried in haughty scorn, "that your voice was the voice of God. If you speak the truth, burst your bonds asunder and free yourself from the hands of your enemies." Quddus looked steadfastly into his <p413> face, sighed deeply, and said: "May God requite you for your deed, inasmuch as you have helped to add to the measure of my afflictions." Approaching the Sabzih-Maydan, he raised his voice and said: "Would that my mother were with me, and could see with her own eyes the splendour of my nuptials!" He had scarcely spoken these words when the enraged multitude fell upon him and, tearing his body to pieces, threw the scattered members into the fire which they had kindled 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 [1] and interred in a place not far distant from the scene of his martyrdom.[2]

[1 "At all events it appears that after the martyrdom of Jinab-i-Quddus a pious divine Haji Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Hamzih by name, whose skill in exegesis and spiritual gifts was recognized by all, secretly sent several persons to bury the mutilated remains in the ruined college already mentioned. And he, far from approving the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama''s conduct, used to curse and revile him, and never himself pronounced sentence of death against any Babi, but, on the contrary used to obtain decent burial for those slain by the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama'. And when men questioned him concerning the garrison of the castle, he would reply: 'I do not condemn them or speak evil of them.' For this reason half of Barfurush remained neutral, for at first he used to forbid men to traduce or molest the Babis, though later when the trouble waxed great, he deemed it prudent to be silent and shut himself up in his house. Now his austerity of life, piety, learning, and virtue were as well known to the people of Mazindaran as were the irreligion immorality and worldliness of the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama'." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," p. 92.)]

[2 "He who knew Quddus and who made the pilgrimage with him is the one upon whom 'eight unities' have passed and God honored him among His angels in the heavens, because of the way in which he had withdrawn himself from all and because he was without blame in the sight of God." ("Le Bayan Persan," vol. 2, p. 164.) "Yet more wonderful than the events above described is the account of them given by Abbas-Quli Khan, with many expressions of admiration to Prince Ahmad Mirza. The late Haji Mirza Jani writes: 'About two years after the disaster of Shaykh Tabarsi, I heard one, who, though not a believer, was honest, truthful, and worthy of credit, relate as follows: "We were sitting together when some allusion was made to the war waged by some of those present against Hadrat-i-Quddus and Jinab-i-Babu'l-Bab. Prince Ahmad Mirza and Abbas-Quli Khan were amongst the company. The prince questioned Abbas-Quli Khan about the matter, and he replied thus: 'The truth of the matter is that anyone who had not seen Karbila would, if he had seen Tabarsi, not only have comprehended what there took place, but would have ceased to consider it and had he seen Mulla Husayn of Bushruyih he would have been convinced that the Chief of Martyrs had returned to earth; and had he witnessed my deeds he would assuredly have said: "This is Shimr come back with sword and Lance." I swear by the sacred plume of His Majesty the Centre of the Universe that one day Mulla Husayn, having on his head a green turban, and over his shoulder a shroud, came forth from the castle, stood forth in the open field, and, leaning on a lance which he held in his hand said: "O people, why, without enquiry and under the influence of passion and prejudiced misrepresentation, do ye act so cruelly towards us, and strive without cause to shed innocent blood? Be ashamed before the Creator of the universe, and at last give us passage, that we may depart out of this land." Seeing that the soldiers were moved, I opened fire and ordered the troops to shout so as to drown his voice. Again I saw him lean on his lance and heard him cry: "Is there any who will help me?" three times so that all heard his cry. At that moment all the soldiers were silent and some began to weep, and many of the horsemen were visibly affected. Fearing that the army might be seduced from their allegiance, I again ordered them to fire and shout. Then I saw Mulla Husayn unsheathe his sword raise his face towards heaven, and heard him exclaim: "O God I have completed the proof to this host, but it availeth not.' Then he began to attack us on the right and on the left. I swear by God that on that day he wielded the sword in such wise as transcends the power of man. Only the horsemen of Mazindaran held their ground and refused to flee. And when Mulla Husayn was well warmed to the fray, he overtook a fugitive soldier. The soldier sheltered himself behind a tree, and further strove to shield himself with his musket. Mulla Husayn dealt him such blow with his sword that he clave him and the tree and the musket into six pieces. And, during that war not once was his sword-stroke at fault, but every blow that he struck fell true. And by the nature of their wounds I could recognize all whom Mulla Husayn had cut down with his sword, and since I had heard and knew that none could rightly wield the sword save the Chief of Believers, and that it was well-nigh impossible for sword to cut so true, therefore I forbade all who were aware of this thing to mention it or make it known, lest the troops should be discouraged and should wax faint in the fight. But in truth I know not what had been shown to these people, or what they had seen, that they came forth to battle with such alacrity and joy, and engaged so eagerly and gladly in the strife, without displaying in their countenance any trace of fear or apprehension. One would imagine that in their eyes the keen sword and blood-spilling dagger were but means to the attainment of everlasting life, so eagerly did their necks and bosoms welcome them as they circled like salamanders round the fiery hail of bullets. And the astonishing thing was that all these men were scholars and men of learning, sedentary recluses of the college and the cloister, delicately nurtured and of weakly frame, inured indeed to austerities, but strangers to the roar of cannon, the rattle of musketry, and the field of battle. During the last three months of the siege, moreover, they were absolutely without bread and water, and were reduced to the extreme of weakness through lack of even such pittance of food as is sufficient to sustain life. Notwithstanding this, it seemed as if in time of battle a new spirit were breathed into their frames, in so much that the imagination of man cannot conceive the vehemence of their courage and valour. They used to expose their bodies to the bullets and cannon-balls not only fearlessly and courageously, but eagerly and joyously, seeming to regard the battle-field as a banquet, and to be bent on casting away their lives.'"'" (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 106-9.)]

It would be appropriate at this juncture to place on record the names of those martyrs who participated in the defence of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi, in the hope that generations yet to come may recall with pride and gratitude the names, no less than the deeds, of those pioneers who, by their life and death, have so greatly enriched the annals of God's immortal Faith. Such names as I have been able to collect from various sources, and for which I am particularly indebted <p414> to Ismu'llahu'l-Mim, Ismu'llahu'l-Javad, and Ismu'llahu'l-Asad, I now proceed to enumerate, trusting that even as in the world beyond their souls have been invested with the light of unfading glory, their names may likewise linger for ever on the tongues of men; that their mention may continue to evoke a like spirit of enthusiasm and devotion in the hearts of those to whom this priceless heritage has been transmitted. >From my informants I not only have been able to gather the names of most of those who fell in the course of that memorable siege, but have also succeeded in obtaining a representative, though incomplete, list of all those martyrs who, from the year '60 [1] until the present day, the latter part of the month of Rabi'u'l-Avval in the year 1306 A.H.,[2] have laid down their lives in the path of the Cause of God. It is my intention to make mention of each of these names in connection with the particular event with which it is chiefly connected. As to those who quaffed the cup of martyrdom while defending the fort of Tabarsi, their names are as follows:

[1 1844 A.D.]

[2 November-December 1888 A.D.]

1. First and foremost among them stands Quddus, upon whom the Bab bestowed the name of Ismu'llahu'l-Akhar.[1] He, the Last Letter of the Living and the Bab's chosen companion <p415> on His pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, was, together with Mulla Sadiq and Mulla Ali-Akbar-i-Ardistani, the first to suffer persecution on Persian soil for the sake of the Cause of God. He was only eighteen years of age when he left his native town of Barfurush for Karbila. For about four years he sat at the feet of Siyyid Kazim, and at the age of twenty-two met and recognized his Beloved in Shiraz. Five years later, on the twenty-third day of Jamadiyu'th-Thani in the year 1265 A.H.,[2] he was destined to fall, in the Sabzih-Maydan of Barfurush, a victim of the most refined and wanton barbarity at the hands of the enemy. The Bab and, at a later time, Baha'u'llah have mourned in unnumbered Tablets and prayers his loss, and have lavished on him their eulogies. Such was the honour accorded to him by Baha'u'llah that in His commentary on the verse of Kullu't-Ta'am,[3] which He revealed while in Baghdad, He conferred upon him the unrivalled station of the Nuqtiy-i-Ukhra,[4] a station second to none except that of the Bab Himself.[5]

[1 Literally "The Last Name of God."]

[2 May 16 1849 A.D.]

[3 Qur'an, 3:93.]

[4 Literally "The Last Point."]

[5 Refer to note 2, p. 413.]

2. Mulla Husayn, surnamed the Babu'l-Bab, the first to recognize and embrace the new Revelation. At the age of eighteen, he, too, departed from his native town of Bushruyih in Khurasan for Karbila, and for a period of nine years <p416> remained closely associated with Siyyid Kazim. Four years prior to the Declaration of the Bab, acting according to the instructions of Siyyid Kazim, he met in Isfahan the learned mujtahid Siyyid Baqir-i-Rashti and in Mashhad Mirza Askari, to both of whom he delivered with dignity and eloquence the messages with which he had been entrusted by his leader. The circumstances attending his martyrdom evoked the Bab's inexpressible sorrow, a sorrow that found vent in eulogies and prayers of such great number as would be equivalent to thrice the volume of the Qur'an. In one of His visiting Tablets, the Bab asserts that the very dust of the ground where the remains of Mulla Husayn lie buried is endowed with such potency as to bring joy to the disconsolate and healing to the sick. In the Kitab-i-Iqan, Baha'u'llah extols with still greater force the virtues of Mulla Husayn. "But for him," He writes, "God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor have ascended the throne of eternal glory!"[1]

[1 Refer to note 1, p. 383.]

3. Mirza Muhammad-Hasan, the brother of Mulla Husayn.

4. Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, the nephew of Mulla Husayn. He, as well as Mirza Muhammad-Hasan, accompanied Mulla Husayn from Bushruyih to Karbila and from thence to Shiraz, where they embraced the Message of the Bab and were enrolled among the Letters of the Living. With the exception of the journey of Mulla Husayn to the castle of Mah-Ku, they continued to be with him until the time they suffered martyrdom in the fort of Tabarsi.

5. The brother-in-law of Mulla Husayn, the father of Mirza Abu'l-Hasan and Mirza Muhammad-Husayn, both of whom are now in Bushruyih, and into whose hands the care of the Varaqatu'l-Firdaws, Mulla Husayn's sister, is committed. Both are firm and devoted adherents of the Faith.

6. The son of Mulla Ahmad, the elder brother of Mulla Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi. He, unlike his uncle, Mulla Mirza Muhammad, suffered martyrdom and was, as testified by the latter, a youth of great piety and distinguished for his learning and his integrity of character. <p417>

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

8. Mirza Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Juvayni, a native of Sabzihvar, who was distinguished for his literary accomplishments and was often entrusted by Mulla Husayn with the task of leading the charge against the assailants. His head and that of his fellow-companion, Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, were impaled on spears and paraded through the streets of Barfurush, amid the shouts and howling of an excited populace.

9. Qambar-'Ali, the fearless and faithful servant of Mulla Husayn, who accompanied him on his journey to Mah-Ku and who suffered martyrdom on the very night on which his master fell a victim to the bullets of the enemy.

10. Hasan and

11. Quli, who, together with a man named Iskandar, a native of Zanjan, bore the body of Mulla Husayn to the fort on the night of his martyrdom and placed it at the feet of Quddus. He it was, the same Hasan, who, by the orders of the chief constable of Mashhad, was led by a halter through the streets of that city.

12. Muhammad-Hasan, the brother of Mulla Sadiq, whom the comrades of Khusraw slew on the way between Barfurush and the fort of Tabarsi. He distinguished himself <p418> by his unwavering constancy, and had been one of the servants of the shrine of the Imam Rida.

13. Siyyid Rida, who, with Mulla Yusuf-i-Ardibili, was commissioned by Quddus to meet the prince, and who brought back with him the sealed copy of the Qur'an bearing the oath which the prince had written. He was one of the well-known siyyids of Khurasan, and was recognized for his learning as well as for the integrity of his character.

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

15. Mulla Muhammad-Mihdi,

16. Mulla Muhammad-Ja'far,

17. Mulla Muhammad-ibn-i-Mulla Muhammad,

18. Mulla Rahim,

19. Mulla Muhammad-Rida,

20. Mulla Muhammad-Husayn,

21. Mulla Muhammad,

22. Mulla Yusuf,

23. Mulla Ya'qub,

24. Mulla Ali,

25. Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin,

26. Mulla Muhammad, son of Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin,

27. Mulla Baqir, <p419>

28. Mulla Abdu'l-Muhammad,

29. Mulla Abu'l-Hasan,

30. Mulla Isma'il,

31. Mulla Abdu'l-'Ali,

32. Mulla Aqa-Baba,

33. Mulla Abdu'l-Javad,

34. Mulla Muhammad-Husayn,

35. Mulla Muhammad-Baqir,

36. Mulla Muhammad,

37. Haji Hasan,

38. Karbila'i Ali,

39. Mulla Karbila'i Ali,

40. Karbila'i Nur-Muhammad,

41. Muhammad-Ibrahim,

42. Muhammad-Sa'im,

43. Muhammad-Hadi,

44. Siyyid Mihdi,

45. Abu-Muhammad.

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

46. Siyyid Ahmad, whose body was cut to pieces by Mirza Muhammad-Taqi and the seven ulamas of Sari. He was a noted divine and greatly esteemed for his eloquence and piety.

47. Mir Abu'l-Qasim, Siyyid Ahmad's brother, who won the crown of martyrdom on the very night on which Mulla Husayn met his death.

48. Mir Mihdi, the paternal uncle of Siyyid Ahmad,

49. Mir Ibrahim, the brother-in-law of Siyyid Ahmad,

50. Safar-'Ali, the son of Karbila'i Ali, who, together with Karbila'i Muhammad, had so strenuously endeavoured to awaken the people of Sang-Sar from their sleep of heedlessness. Both of them, owing to their infirmities, were unable to proceed to the fort of Tabarsi.

51. Muhammad-'Ali, the son of Karbila'i Abu-Muhammad,

52. Abu'l-Qasim, the brother of Muhammad-'Ali,

53. Karbila'i Ibrahim,

54. Ali-Ahmad, <p420>

55. Mulla Ali-Akbar,

56. Mulla Husayn-'Ali,

57. Abbas-'Ali,

58. Husayn-'Ali,

59. Mulla Ali-Asghar,

60. Karbila'i Isma'il,

61. Ali Khan,

62. Muhammad-Ibrahim,

63. Abdu'l-'Azim.

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

64. Mulla Abu-Rahim and

65. Karbila'i Kazim.

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

66. Mulla Riday-i-Shah,

67. Azim,

68. Karbila'i Muhammad-Ja'far,

69. Siyyid Husayn,

70. Muhammad-Baqir,

71. Siyyid Razzaq,

72. Ustad Ibrahim,

73. Mulla Sa'id-i-Zirih-Kinari,

74. Riday-i-'Arab,

75. Rasul-i-Bahnimiri,

76. Muhammad-Husayn, the brother of Rasul-i-Bahnimiri,

77. Tahir,

78. Shafi',

79. Qasim,

80. Mulla Muhammad-Jan,

81. Masih, the brother of Mulla Muhammad-Jan,

82. Ita-Baba,

83. Yusuf,

84. Fadlu'llah,

85. Baba,

86. Safi-Quli,

87. Nizam,

88. Ruhu'llah,

89. Ali-Quli, <p421>

90. Sultan,

91. Ja'far,

92. Khalil.

Of the believers of Savad-Kuh, the five following names have thus far been ascertained:

93. Karbila'i Qambar-Kalish,

94. Mulla Nad-'Aliy-i-Mutavalli,

95. Abdu'l-Haqq,

96. Itabaki-Chupan,

97. Son of Itabaki-Chupan.

From the town of Ardistan, the following have suffered


98. Mirza Ali-Muhammad, son of Mirza Muhammad-Sa'id,

99. Mirza Abdu'-Vasi', son of Haji Abdu'l-Vahhab,

100. Muhammad-Husayn, son of Haji Muhammad-Sadiq,

101. Muhammad-Mihdi, son of Haji Muhammad-Ibrahim,

102. Mirza Ahmad, son of Muhsin,

103. Mirza Muhammad, son of Mir Muhammad-Taqi.

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

104. Mulla Ja'far, the sifter of wheat, whose name has been mentioned by the Bab in the Persian Bayan.

105. Ustad Aqa, surnamed Buzurg-Banna,

106. Ustad Hasan, son of Ustad Aqa,

107. Ustad Muhammad, son of Ustad Aqa,

108. Muhammad-Husayn, son of Ustad Aqa, whose younger brother Ustad Ja'far was sold several times by his enemies until he reached his native city, where he now resides.

109. Ustad Qurban-'Aliy-i-Banna,

110. Ali-Akbar, son of Ustad Qurban-'Aliy-i-Banna,

111. Abdu'llah, son of Ustad Qurban-'Ali-i-Banna,

112. Muhammad-i-Baqir-Naqsh, the maternal uncle of Siyyid Yahya, son of Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Nahri. He was fourteen years old and was martyred the very night that Mulla Husayn met his death.

113. Mulla Muhammad-Taqi,

114. Mulla Muhammad-Rida, both brothers of the late Abdu's-Salih, the gardener of the Ridvan at Akka.

115. Mulla Ahmad-i-Saffar, <p422>

116. Mulla Husayn-i-Miskar,

117. Ahmad-i-Payvandi,

118. Hasan-i-Sha'r-Baf-i-Yazdi,

119. Muhammad-Taqi,

120. Muhammad-'Attar, brother of Hasan-i-Sha'r-Baf,

121. Mulla Abdu'l-Khaliq, who cut his throat in Badasht and whom Tahirih named Dhabih.

122. Husayn,

123. Abu'l-Qasim, brother of Husayn,

124. Mirza Muhammad-Rida,

125. Mulla Haydar, brother of Mirza Muhammad-Rida,

126. Mirza Mihdi,

127. Muhammad-Ibrahim,

128. Muhammad-Husayn, surnamed Dastmal-Girih-Zan,

129. Muhammad-Hasan-i-Chit-Saz, a well-known cloth manufacturer who attained the presence of the Bab.

130. Muhammad-Husayn-i-'Attar,

131. Ustad Haji Muhammad-i-Banna,

132. Mahmud-i-Muqari'i, a noted cloth dealer. He was newly married and had attained the presence of the Bab in the castle of Chihriq. The Bab urged him to proceed to the Jaziriy-i-Khadra and to lend his assistance to Quddus. While in Tihran, he received a letter from his brother announcing the birth of a son and entreating him to hasten to Isfahan to see him, and then to proceed to whichever place he felt inclined. "I am too much fired," he replied, "with the love of this Cause to be able to devote any attention to my son. I am impatient to join Quddus and to enlist under his banner."

133. Siyyid Muhammad-Riday-i-Pa-Qal'iyi, a distinguished siyyid and a highly esteemed divine, whose declared purpose to enlist under the banner of Mulla Husayn caused a great tumult among the ulamas of Isfahan.

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

134. Mulla Abdu'llah, known also by the name of Mirza Salih,

135. Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin,

136. Mirza Muhammad.

Of the adherents of the Faith in Yazd, only four have thus far been recorded: <p423>

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

138. Siyyid Ahmad, the father of Siyyid Husayn-i-'Aziz, the amanuensis of the Bab,

139. Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, son of Siyyid Ahmad, whose head was blown off by the ball from a cannon as he was standing at the entrance of the fort, and who, because of his tender age, was greatly loved and admired by Quddus.

140. Shaykh Ali, son of Shaykh Abdu'l-Khaliq-i-Yazdi, a resident of Mashhad, a youth whose enthusiasm and untiring energy were greatly praised by Mulla Husayn and Quddus.

Of the believers of Qazvin, the following were martyred:

141. Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, a noted divine, whose father, Haji Mulla Abdu'l-Vahhab, was one of the most distinguished mujtahids in Qazvin. He attained the presence of the Bab in Shiraz, and was enrolled as one of the Letters of the Living.

142. Muhammad-Hadi, a noted merchant, son of Haji Abdu'l-Karim, surnamed Baghban-Bashi,

143. Siyyid Ahmad,

144. Mirza Abdu'l-Jalil, a noted divine,

145. Mirza Mihdi.

146. From the village of Lahard, a man named Haji Muhammad-'Ali, who had greatly suffered as a result of the murder of Mulla Taqi in Qazvin.

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

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

148. Mulla Mahmud-i-Khu'i, brother of Mulla Mihdi, one of the Letters of the Living and a distinguished divine.

149. Mulla Yusuf-i-Ardibili, one of the Letters of the Living, noted for his learning, his enthusiasm and eloquence. It was he who had aroused the apprehensions of Haji Karim Khan on his arrival at Kirman, and who struck terror to the hearts of his adversaries. "This man," Haji Karim Khan was heard to say to his congregation, "must needs be expelled from this town, for if he be allowed to remain, he will assuredly <p424> cause the same tumult in Kirman as he has already done in Shiraz. The injury he will inflict will be irreparable. The magic of his eloquence and the force of his personality, if they do not already excel those of Mulla Husayn, are certainly not inferior to them." By this means he was able to force him to curtail his stay in Kirman and to prevent him from addressing the people from the pulpit. The Bab gave him the following instructions: "You must visit the towns and cities of Persia and summon their inhabitants to the Cause of God. On the first day of the month of Muharram in the year 1265 A.H.,[1] you must be in Mazindaran and must arise to lend every assistance in your power to Quddus." Mulla Yusuf, faithful to the instructions of his Master, refused to prolong his stay beyond a week in any of the towns and cities which he visited. On his arrival in Mazindaran, he was made captive by the forces of Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, who immediately recognized him and gave orders that he be imprisoned. He was eventually released, as we have already observed, by the companions of Mulla Husayn on the day of the battle of Vas-Kas.

[1 November 27, 1848 A.D.]

150. Mulla Jalil-i-Urumi, one of the Letters of the Living, noted for his learning, his eloquence, and tenacity of faith.

151. Mulla Ahmad, a resident of Maraghih, one of the Letters of the Living, and a distinguished disciple of Siyyid Kazim.

152. Mulla Mihdiy-i-Kandi, a close companion of Baha'u'llah, and a tutor to the children of His household.

153. Mulla Baqir, brother of Mulla Mihdi, both of whom were men of considerable learning, to whose great attainments Baha'u'llah testifies in the "Kitab-i-Iqan."

154. Siyyid Kazim, a resident of Zanjan, and one of its noted merchants. He attained the presence of the Bab in Shiraz, and accompanied Him to Isfahan. His brother, Siyyid Murtada, was one of the Seven Martyrs of Tihran.

155. Iskandar, also a resident of Zanjan, who, together with Hasan and Quli, bore the body of Mulla Husayn to the fort.

156. Isma'il,

157. Karbila'i Abdu'l-'Ali, <p425>

158. Abdu'l-Muhammad,

159. Haji Abbas,

160. Siyyid Ahmad--all residents of Zanjan.

161. Siyyid Husayn-i-Kulah-Duz, a resident of Barfurush, whose head was impaled on a lance and was paraded through its streets.

162. Mulla Hasan-i-Rashti,

163. Mulla Hasan-i-Bayajmandi,

164. Mulla Ni'matu'llah-i-Barfurushi,

165. Mulla Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Qarakhili,

166. Ustad Zaynu'l-'Abidin,

167. Ustad Qasim, son of Ustad Zaynu'l-'Abidin,

168. Ustad Ali-Akbar, brother of Ustad Zaynu'l-'Abidin.

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

169 and 170. Mulla Riday-i-Shah and a young man from Bahnimir were slain two days after the abandonment of the fort by Quddus, in the Panj-Shanbih-Bazar of Barfurush. Haji Mulla Muhammad-i-Hamzih, surnamed the Shari'at-Madar, succeeded in burying their bodies in the neighbourhood of the Masjid-i-Kazim-Big, and in inducing their murderer to repent and ask forgiveness.

171. Mulla Muhammad-i-Mu'allim-i-Nuri, an intimate companion of Baha'u'llah who was closely associated with Him in Nur, in Tihran, and in Mazindaran. He was famed for his intelligence and learning, and was subjected, Quddus only excepted, to the severest atrocities that have ever befallen a defender of the fort of Tabarsi. The prince had promised that he would release him on condition that he would execrate the name of Quddus, and had pledged his word that, should he be willing to recant, he would take him back with him to Tihran and make him the tutor of his sons. "Never will I consent," he replied, "to vilify the beloved of God at the bidding of a man such as you. Were you to confer upon me the whole of the kingdom of Persia, I would not for one moment turn my face from my beloved leader. My body is at your mercy, my soul you are powerless to subdue. Torture me as you will, that I may be enabled to demonstrate to you the truth of the verse, 'Then, wish for death, if ye be men of <p426> truth.'"[1] 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.

[1 Qur'an, 9:94.]

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

173. Sa'id-i-Jabbavi, a native of Baghdad, who displayed extraordinary courage during the siege. He was shot in the abdomen, and, though severely wounded, managed to walk until he reached the presence of Quddus. He joyously threw himself at his feet and expired.

The circumstances of the martyrdom of these last two companions were related by Siyyid Abu-Talib-i-Sang-Sari, one of those who survived that memorable siege, in a communication he addressed to Baha'u'llah. In it he relates, in addition, his own story, as well as that of his two brothers, Siyyid Ahmad and Mir Abu'l-Qasim, both of whom were martyred while defending the fort. "On the day on which Khusraw was slain," he wrote, "I happened to be the guest of a certain Karbila'i Ali-Jan, the kad-khuda [1] of one of the villages in the neighbourhood of the fort. He had gone to assist in the protection of Khusraw, and had returned and was relating to me the circumstances attending his death. On that very day, a messenger informed me that two Arabs had arrived at that village and were anxious to join the occupants of the fort. They expressed their fear of the people of the village of Qadi-Kala, and promised that they would amply reward whoever would be willing to conduct them to their destination. I recalled the counsels of my father, Mir Muhammad-'Ali, who exhorted me to arise and <p427> help in the promotion of the Cause of the Bab. I immediately decided to seize the opportunity that had presented itself to me, and, together with these two Arabs, and with the aid and assistance of the Kad-khuda, reached the fort, met Mulla Husayn, and determined to consecrate the remaining days of my life to the service of the Cause he had chosen to follow."

[1 See Glossary.]

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

1. Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, brother of the late Muhammad Shah, <p428>

2. Sulayman Khan-i-Afshar,

3. Haji Mustafa Khan-i-Sur-Tij,

4. Abdu'llah Khan, brother of Haji Mustafa Khan,

5. Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani, who shot Mulla Husayn,

6. Nuru'llah Khan-i-Afghan,

7. Habibu'llah Khan-i-Afghan,

8. Dhu'l-Faqar Khan-i-Karavuli,

9. Ali-Asghar Khan-i-Du-Dungi'i,

10. Khuda-Murad Khan-i-Kurd,

11. Khalil Khan-i-Savad-Kuhi,

12. Ja'far-Quli Khan-i-Surkh-Karri'i,

13. The Sartip of the Fawj-i-Kalbat, <p429>

14. Zakariyyay-i-Qadi-Kala'i, a cousin of Khusraw, and his successor.

As to those believers who participated in that memorable siege and survived its tragic end, I have been thus far unable to ascertain in full either their names or their number. I have contented myself with a representative, though incomplete, list of the names of its martyrs, trusting that in the days to come the valiant promoters of the Faith will arise to fill this gap, and will, by their research and industry, be able to remedy the imperfections of this altogether inadequate description of what must ever remain as one of the most moving episodes of modern times. <p430>




THE news of the tragic fate which had befallen the heroes of Tabarsi brought immeasurable sorrow to the heart of the Bab. Confined it His prison-castle of Chihriq, severed from the little band of His struggling disciples, He watched with keen anxiety the progress of their labours and prayed with unremitting zeal for their victory. How great was His sorrow when, in the early days of Sha'ban in the year 1265 A.H.,[1] He came to learn of the trials that had beset their path, of the agony they had suffered, of the betrayal to which an exasperated enemy had felt compelled to resort, and of the abominable butchery with which their career had ended.

[1 June 22-July 21, 1849 A.D.]

"The Bab was heart-broken," His amanuensis, Siyyid Husayn-i-'Aziz, subsequently related, "at the receipt of this unexpected intelligence. He was crushed with grief, a grief that stilled His voice and silenced His pen. For nine days He refused to meet any of His friends. I myself, though His close and constant attendant, was refused admittance. Whatever meat or drink we offered Him, He was disinclined to touch. Tears rained continually from His eyes, and expressions of anguish dropped unceasingly from His lips. I could hear Him, from behind the curtain, give vent to His feelings of sadness as He communed, in the privacy of His cell, with His Beloved. I attempted to jot down the effusions of His sorrow as they poured forth from His wounded heart. Suspecting that I was attempting to preserve the lamentations He uttered, He bade me destroy whatever I had recorded. Nothing remains of the moans and cries with which that heavy-laden heart sought to relieve itself of the pangs that had seized it. For a period of five months He languished, immersed in an ocean of despondency and sorrow." <p431>

With the advent of Muharram in the year 1266 A.H.,[1] the Bab again resumed the work He had been compelled to interrupt. The first page He wrote was dedicated to the memory of Mulla Husayn. In the visiting Tablet revealed in his honour, He extolled, in moving terms, the unswerving fidelity with which he served Quddus throughout the siege of the fort of Tabarsi. He lavished His eulogies on his magnanimous conduct, recounted his exploits, and asserted his undoubted reunion in the world beyond with the leader whom he had so nobly served. He too, He wrote, would soon join those twin immortals, each of whom had, by his life and death, shed imperishable lustre on the Faith of God. For one whole week the Bab continued to write His praises of Quddus, of Mulla Husayn, and of His other companions who had gained the crown of martyrdom at Tabarsi.

[1 November 17-December 17, 1849 A.D.]

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, [1] Mulla Adi-Guzal, [2] one of the believers of Maraghih, who for the last two months had been acting as His attendant instead of Siyyid Hasan, the brother of Siyyid Husayn-i-'Aziz. He affectionately received him, bestowed upon him the name Sayyah, entrusted to his care the visiting Tablets He had revealed in memory of the martyrs of Tabarsi, and bade him perform, on His behalf, a pilgrimage to that spot. "Arise," He urged him, "and with complete detachment proceed, in the guise of a traveller, to Mazindaran, and there visit, on My behalf, the spot which enshrines the bodies of those immortals who, with their blood, have sealed their faith in My Cause. As you approach the precincts of that hallowed ground, put off your shoes and, bowing your head in reverence to their memory, invoke their names and prayerfully make the circuit of their shrine. Bring back to Me, as a remembrance of your visit, a handful of that holy earth which covers the remains of My beloved ones, Quddus and Mulla <p432> Husayn. Strive to be back ere the day of Naw-Ruz, that you may celebrate with Me that festival, the only one I probably shall ever see again."

[1 The tenth of Muharram the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn, fell in that year on November 26, 1849 A.D.]

[2 According to the "Kashful'l-Ghita'" (p. 241) his full name was Mirza Aliy-i-Sayyah-i-Maraghih'i. He had acted as the servant of the Bab in Mah-Ku, ranked among His leading companions, and subsequently embraced the Message of Baha'u'llah.]

Faithful to the instructions he had received, Sayyah set out on his pilgrimage to Mazindaran. He reached his destination on the first day of Rabi'u'l-Avval in the year 1266 A.H.,[1] and by the ninth day of that same month,[2] the first anniversary of the martyrdom of Mulla Husayn, he had performed his visit and acquitted himself of the mission with which he had been entrusted. From thence he proceeded to Tihran.

[1 January 15, 1850 A.D.]

[2 January 23, 1850 A.D.]

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

Sayyah tarried a few days in that home. He was, however, unable to perceive, as did Vahid, the nature of that power which lay latent in his Host. Though himself the recipient of the utmost favour from Baha'u'llah, he failed to apprehend the significance of the blessings that were being showered upon him. I have heard him recount his experiences, during his sojourn in Famagusta: "Baha'u'llah overwhelmed <p433> me with His kindness. As to Vahid, notwithstanding the eminence of his position, he invariably gave me preference over himself whenever in the presence of his Host. On the day of my arrival from Mazindaran, he went so far as to kiss my feet. I was amazed at the reception accorded me in that home. Though immersed in an ocean of bounty, I failed, in those days, to appreciate the position then occupied by Baha'u'llah, nor was I able to suspect, however dimly, the nature of the Mission He was destined to perform."

Ere the departure of Sayyah from Tihran, Baha'u'llah entrusted him with an epistle, the text of which He had dictated to Mirza Yahya,[1] and sent it in his name. Shortly after, a reply, penned in the Bab's own handwriting, in which He commits Mirza Yahya to the care of Baha'u'llah and urges that attention be paid to his education and training, was received. That communication the people of the Bayan [2] have misconstrued as an evidence of the exaggerated claims [3] which they have advanced in favour of their leader. Although the text of that reply is absolutely devoid of such pretensions, and does not, beyond the praise it bestows upon Baha'u'llah and the request it makes for the upbringing of Mirza Yahya, contain any reference to his alleged position, yet his followers have idly imagined that that letter constitutes an assertion of the authority with which they have invested him.[4]

[1 Surnamed Subh-i-Azal.]

[2 Followers of Mirza Yahya.]

[3 The claims of this young man were based on a nomination-document now in the possession Prof. Browne, and have been supported by a letter given in a French version by Mons. Nicolas. Forgery, however, has played such great part in written documents of the East that I hesitate to recognize the genuineness of this nomination. And I think it very improbable that any company of intensely earnest men should have accepted the document in preference to the evidence of their own knowledge respecting the inadequate endowments of Subh-i-Azal.... The probability is that the arrangement already made was further sanctioned, viz. that Baha'u'llah was for the present to take the private direction of affairs and exercise his great gifts as a teacher, while Subh-i-Azal (a vain young man) gave his name as ostensible head, especially with view to outsiders and to agents of the government." (Dr. T. K. Cheyne's "The Reconciliation of Races and Religions," pp. 118-19.)]

[4 "I adjure thee by God, the One, the Mighty, the Omnipotent, to ponder in thine heart those writings which were sent in his [Mirza Yahya's] name to the Primal Point [the Bab], that thou mayest recognize and distinguish, as manifest as the sun, the signs of the True One." (The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," p. 125.)]

At this stage of my narrative, when I have already recounted the outstanding events that occurred in the course <p434> of the year 1265 A.H.,[1] I am reminded that that very year witnessed the most significant event in my own life, an event which marked my spiritual rebirth, my deliverance from the fetters of the past, and my acceptance of the message of this Revelation. I seek the indulgence of the reader if I dwell too long on the circumstances of my early life, and recount with too great detail the events that led to my conversion. My father belonged to the tribe of Tahiri, who led a nomadic life in the province of Khurasan. His name was Ghulam Ali, son of Husayn-i-'Arab. He married the daughter of Kalb-'Ali, and by her had three sons and three daughters. I was his second son, and was given the name of Yar-Muhammad. I was born on the eighteenth of Safar in the year 1247 A.H.,[2] in the village of Zarand. I was a shepherd by profession, and was given in my early days a most rudimentary education. I longed to devote more time to my studies, but was unable to do so, owing to the exigencies of my situation. I read the Qur'an with eagerness, committed several of its passages to memory, and chanted them whilst I followed my flock over the fields. I loved solitude, and watched the stars at night with delight and wonder. In the quiet of the wilderness, I recited certain prayers attributed to the Imam Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, and, as I turned my face towards the Qiblih,[3] supplicated the Almighty to guide my steps and enable me to find the Truth.

[1 1848-9 A.D.]

[2 July 29, 1831 A.D.]

[3 See Glossary.]

My father oftentimes took me with him to Qum, where I became acquainted with the teachings of Islam and the ways and manners of its leaders. He was a devout follower of that Faith, and was closely associated with the ecclesiastical leaders who congregated in that city. I watched him as he prayed at the Masjid-i-Imam-Hasan and performed, with scrupulous care and extreme piety, all the rites and ceremonies prescribed by his Faith. I heard the preaching of several eminent mujtahids who had arrived from Najaf, attended their lectures, and listened to their disputations. Gradually I came to perceive their insincerity and to loathe the baseness of their character. Eager as I was to ascertain the trustworthiness of the creeds and dogmas which they strove to impose upon me, I could neither find the time nor obtain the <p435> facilities with which to satisfy my desire. I was often rebuked by my father for my temerity and restlessness. "I fear," he often remarked, "that your aversion to these mujtahids may some day involve you in great difficulties and bring upon you reproach and shame."

I was in the village of Rubat-Karim, on a visit to my maternal uncle, when, on the twelfth day after Naw-Ruz, in the year 1263 A.H.,[1] I accidentally overheard, in the masjid of that village, a conversation between two men which first made me acquainted with the Revelation of the Bab. "Have you heard," one of them remarked, "that the Siyyid-i-Bab has been conducted to the village of Kinar-Gird and is on his way to Tihran?" Finding his friend ignorant of that episode, he proceeded to relate the whole story of the Bab, giving a detailed account of the circumstances attending His Declaration, of His arrest in Shiraz, His departure for Isfahan, the reception which both the Imam-Jum'ih and Manuchihr Khan had extended to Him, the prodigies and wonders He had manifested, and the verdict that the ulamas of Isfahan had pronounced against Him. Every detail of that story excited my curiosity and stirred in me a keen admiration for a Man who could throw such a spell over His countrymen. His light seemed to have flooded my soul; I felt as if I were already a convert to His Cause.

[1 1847 A.D.]

From Rubat-Karim I returned to Zarand. My father remarked Upon my restlessness, and expressed his surprise at my behaviour. I had lost my appetite and sleep, and was determined to conceal the secret of my inner agitation from my father, lest its disclosure might interfere with the eventual realisation of my hopes. I remained in that state until a certain Siyyid Husayn-i-Zavari'i arrived at Zarand and was able to enlighten me on a subject which had become the ruling passion of my life. Our acquaintance speedily ripened into a friendship which encouraged me to share with him the longings of my heart. To my great surprise, I found him already enthralled by the secret of the theme which I had begun to disclose to him. "One of my cousins," he proceeded to relate, "Siyyid Isma'il-i-Zavari'i by name, convinced me of the truth of the Message proclaimed by the Siyyid-i-Bab. <p436> He informed me that he had several times met the Siyyid-i-Bab in the house of the Imam-Jum'ih of Isfahan, and had seen Him actually reveal, in the presence of His host, a commentary on the Surih of Va'l-'Asr.[1] The rapidity of the Bab's composition, and the force and originality of His style, had excited his surprise and admiration. He was amazed to find that, whilst revealing His commentary, and without lessening the speed of His writing, He was able to answer whatever questions those who were present were moved to ask Him. The fearlessness with which my cousin arose to preach the Message aroused the hostility of the kad-khudas [2] and siyyids of Zavarih, who compelled him to return to Isfahan, where he had of late been residing. I too, unable to remain in Zavarih, departed for Kashan, in which town I spent the winter and met Haji Mirza Jani, of whom my cousin had spoken, and who gave me a treatise written by the Bab, entitled 'Risaliy-i-'Adliyyih,' urging me to read it carefully and return it to him after a few days. I was so charmed by the theme and language of that treatise that I proceeded immediately to transcribe the whole text. When I returned it to its owner, he, to my profound regret, informed me that I had just missed the opportunity of meeting its Author. 'The Siyyid-i-Bab Himself,' he said, 'arrived on the eve of the day of Naw-Ruz and spent three nights as a Guest in my home. He is now on His way to Tihran, and if you start immediately, you will certainly overtake Him.' Straightway I arose and departed, walking all the way from Kashan to a fortress in the neighbourhood of Kinar-Gird. I was resting under the shadow of its walls when a pleasant-looking man emerged from that fortress and asked me who I was and whither I was going. 'I am a poor siyyid,' I replied, 'a wayfarer and stranger to this place.' He took me to his home and invited me to spend the night as his guest. In the course of his conversation with me, he said: 'I suspect you to be a follower of the Siyyid who was staying for a few days in this fortress, from whence He was transferred to the village of Kulayn, and who, three days ago, left for Adhirbayjan. I esteem myself as one of His adherents. My name is Haji Zaynu'l-'Abidin. I intended not to separate myself <p437> 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.'"

[1 Qur'an, 103.]

[2 See Glossary.]

The story which this Siyyid Husayn-i-Zavari'i related to me served to allay my agitation. He shared with me the copy of the "Risaliy-i-'Adliyyih" he had brought with him, the reading of which imparted strength and refreshment to my soul. In those days I was a pupil of a siyyid who taught me the Qur'an and whose incapacity to enlighten me on the tenets of his Faith became more and more evident in my eyes. Siyyid Husayn, whom I asked for further information about the Cause, advised me to meet Siyyid Isma'il-i-Zavari'i, whose invariable practice it was to visit, every spring, the shrines of the imam-zadihs [1] 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 Qadi [2] and the ulamas of Zarand and prevent me from achieving my end.

[1 See Glossary.]

[2 See Glossary.]

While I was in Qum, my mother, my sister, and my brother came to visit me in connection with the festival of Naw-Ruz, and stayed with me for about a month. In the course of their visit, I was able to enlighten my mother and my sister about the new Revelation, and succeeded in kindling in their hearts the love of its Author. A few days after their return to Zarand, Siyyid Isma'il, whom I impatiently awaited, arrived, and was able, in the course of his discussions with me, to set forth in detail all that was required to win me over completely to the Cause. He laid stress on the continuity of Divine Revelation, asserted the fundamental oneness of the Prophets of the past, and explained their close relationship <p438> to the Mission of the Bab. He also disclosed the nature of the work accomplished by Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i and Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti, neither of whom I had previously heard. I asked as to the duty incumbent at the present time upon every loyal adherent of the Faith. "The injunction of the Bab," he replied, "is that all those have accepted His Message should proceed to Mazindaran and their assistance to Quddus, who is now hemmed in by the forces of an unrelenting foe." I expressed my eagerness to join him, <p439> as he himself was intending to journey to the fort of Tabarsi. He advised me, however, to remain in Qum together with a certain Mirza Fathu'llah-i-Hakkak, a lad of my age whom he had recently guided to the Cause, until the receipt of his message from Tihran.

I waited in vain for that message, and, finding that no word came from him, decided to leave for the capital. My friend Mirza Fathu'llah subsequently followed me. He was eventually arrested and shared the fate of those who were put to death in the year 1268 A.H.[1] as a result of the attempt on the life or the Shah. Arriving in Tihran, I proceeded directly to the Masjid-i-Shah, which was opposite a madrisih,[2] at the entrance of which I, later on, unexpectedly encountered Siyyid Isma'il-i-Zavari'i, who hastened to inform me that he had just written me the letter and was on the point of despatching it to Qum.

[1 1851-2 A.D.]

[2 See Glossary.]

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

On my arrival at my native village, I was able to win over my brother to the Cause, which my mother and my sister had already embraced. I also succeeded in inducing my father to allow me to leave again for Tihran. I took up my residence in the same madrisih where I had been accommodated on my previous visit, and there met a certain Mulla Abdu'l-Karim, whom, I subsequently learned, Baha'u'llah had named Mirza Ahmad. He affectionately received me and told me that Siyyid Isma'il had entrusted me to his care and wished me to remain in his company until the former's return to Tihran. The days of my companionship with Mirza Ahmad will never be forgotten. I found him <p440> the very incarnation of love and kindness. The words with which he inspired me and animated my faith are indelibly graven upon my heart.

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

During those days I was informed that Tahirih, who, ever since the dispersal of the gathering at Badasht, had been living in Nur, had arrived at Tihran and was confined in the house of Mahmud Khan-i-Kalantar, where, although a prisoner, she was treated with consideration and courtesy.

One day Mirza Ahmad conducted me to the house of Baha'u'llah, whose wife, the Varaqatu'l-'Ulya,[1] the mother of the Most Great Branch,[2] had already healed my eyes with an ointment which she herself had prepared and sent to me <p441> by this same Mirza Ahmad. The first one I met in that house was that same beloved Son of hers, who was then a child of six. He smiled His welcome to me as He was standing at the door of the room which Baha'u'llah occupied. I passed that door, and was ushered into the presence of Mirza Yahya, utterly unaware of the station of the Occupant of the room I had left behind me. When brought face to face with Mirza Yahya, I was startled, immediately I observed his features and noted his conversation, at his utter unworthiness of the position that had been claimed for him.

[1 Literally "The Most Exalted Leaf."]

[2 Title of Abdu'l-Baha.]

On another occasion, when I visited that same house, I on the point of entering the room that Mirza Yahya occupied, when Aqay-i-Kalim, whom I had previously met, approached and requested me, since Isfandiyar, their servant, had gone to market and had not yet returned, to conduct "Aqa"[1] to the Madrisiy-i-Mirza-Salih in his stead and then return to this place. I gladly consented, and as I was preparing to leave, I saw the Most Great Branch, a child of exquisite beauty, wearing the kulah [2] and cloaked in the jubbiy-i-hizari'i,[3] emerge from the room which His Father occupied, and descend the steps leading to the gate of the house. I advanced and stretched forth my arms to carry Him. "We shall walk together," He said, as He took hold of my hand and led me out of the house. We chatted together as we walked hand in hand in the direction of the madrisih known in those days by the name of Pa-Minar. As we reached His classroom, He turned to me and said: "Come again this afternoon and take me back to my home, for Isfandiyar is unable to fetch me. My Father will need him to-day." I gladly acquiesced, and returned immediately to the house of Baha'u'llah. There again I met Mirza Yahya, who delivered into my hands a letter which he asked me to take to the Madrisiy-i-Sadr and hand to Baha'u'llah, whom I was told I would find in the room occupied by Mulla Baqir-i-Bastami. He asked me to bring back the reply immediately. I fulfilled the commission and returned to the madrisih in time to conduct the Most Great Branch to His home.

[1 Meaning "Master" by which title Abdu'l-Baha was then designated.]

[2 See Glossary.]

[3 A kind of overcoat.

One day Mirza Ahmad invited me to meet Haji Mirza <p442> Siyyid Ali, the Bab's maternal uncle, who had recently returned from Chihriq and was staying in the home of Muhammad Big-i-Chaparchi, in the neighbourhood of the gate of Shimiran. I was struck, when I gazed at his face, with the nobility of his features and the serenity of his countenance. My subsequent visits to him served to heighten my admiration for the sweetness of his temper, his mystical piety and strength of character. I well remember how on one occasion Aqay-i-Kalim urged him, at a certain gathering, to leave Tihran, which was then in a state of great ferment, and escape its dangerous atmosphere. "Why fear for my safety?" he confidently replied. "Would that I too could share in the banquet which the hand of Providence is spreading for His chosen ones!"

Shortly after, the stirrers-up of mischief were able to kindle a grave turmoil in that city. Its immediate cause was the action of a certain siyyid from Kashan, who was living in the Madrisiy-i-Daru'sh-Shafa' and whom the well-known Siyyid Muhammad had taken into his confidence and claimed to have converted to the Bab's teachings. Mirza Muhammad-Husayn-i-Kirmani, who lodged in that same madrisih and who was a well-known lecturer on the metaphysical doctrines of Islam, attempted several times to induce Siyyid Muhammad, <p443> who was one of his pupils, to break off his acquaintance with that siyyid, whom he believed to be unreliable, and to refuse him admittance to the gathering of the believers. Siyyid Muhammad refused, however, to be admonished by this warning, and continued to associate with him until the beginning of the month of Rabi'u'th-Thani in the year 1266 A.H.,[1] at which time the treacherous siyyid went to a certain Siyyid Husayn, one of the ulamas of Kashan, and delivered into his hands the names and addresses of about fifty of the believers who were then residing in Tihran. That same list was immediately submitted by Siyyid Husayn to Mahmud Khan-i-Kalantar, who ordered that all of them be arrested. Fourteen of them were seized and brought before the authorities.

[1 February 14-March 15, 1850 A.D.]

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 <p444> as I returned to the Madrisiy-i-Daru'sh-Shafa', I discovered in my room a package upon which was placed a letter addressed to me by Mirza Ahmad. That letter informed me that the treacherous siyyid had at last denounced us and had raised a violent commotion in the capital. "The package which I have left in this room," he wrote, "contains all the sacred writings that are in my possession. If you ever reach this place in safety, take them to the caravanserai of Haji Nad-'Ali, where you will find in one of its rooms a man bearing that name, a native of Qazvin, to whom you will deliver the package together with the letter which accompanies it. From thence you will proceed immediately to the Masjid-i-Shah, where I hope to be able to meet you." Following his directions, I delivered the package to the Haji and succeeded in reaching the masjid, where I met Mirza Ahmad 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, Baha'u'llah had sent from the Madrisiyi-Sadr a message to Mirza Ahmad informing him of the designs of the Amir-Nizam, who had, already on three different occasions, demanded his arrest from the Imam-Jum'ih. He was also warned that the Amir, ignoring the right of asylum with which the masjid had been invested, intended to arrest those who had sought refuge in that sanctuary. Mirza Ahmad 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 recognized me in the Masjid-i-Shah, 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 Mirza Ahmad, who counselled me to seize this God-sent opportunity, I left for Zarand and celebrate the Feast of Naw-Ruz with my family, a Feast that was doubly blessed inasmuch as it coincided with the fifth day of Jamadiyu'l-Avval in the year 1266 A.H.,[1] the anniversary of the day on which the Bab had declared His Mission. The Naw-Ruz of that year has been mentioned in the "Kitab-i-Panj-Sha'n," <p445> one of the last works of the Bab. "The sixth Naw-Ruz," He wrote in that Book, "after the Declaration of the Point of the Bayan,[2]' has fallen on the fifth day of Jamadiyu'l-Avval, in the seventh lunar year after that same Declaration." In that same passage, the Bab alludes to the fact that the Naw-Ruz of that year would be the last He was destined to celebrate on this earth.

[1 1850 A.D.]

[2 One of the titles of the Bab.]

In the midst of the festivities which my relatives celebrated in Zarand, my heart was set upon Tihran, 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 Sadiq-i-Tabrizi, who came from Tihran 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 Tihran--for such was their fate--I now proceed to relate. The fourteen disciples of the Bab, who had been captured, remained incarcerated in the house of Mahmud Khan-i-Kalantar from the first to the twenty-second day of the month of Rabi'u'th-Thani.[1] Tahirih 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 Muhammad-Husayn-i-Maraghiyi, 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 <p446> serve their purpose, but failed to achieve their end. Such was his unswerving obstinacy that his oppressors thought him to be dumb. They asked Haji Mulla Isma'il, 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.

[1 February 14, March 15, 1850 A.D.]

Convinced of their powerlessness to bend their will, they referred the matter to Mahmud Khan, who, in his turn, submitted their case to the Amir-Nizam, Mirza Taqi Khan,[1] the Grand Vazir of Nasiri'd-Din Shah. 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 Vazir 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 Tihran:

[1 He was the son of Qurban, the head cook of the Qa'im-Magam, the predecessor of Haji Mirza Aqasi.]

1. Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali, surnamed Khal-i-A'zam,[1] the Bab's maternal uncle, and one of the leading merchants of Shiraz. It was this same uncle into whose custody the Bab, after the death of His father, was entrusted, and who, on his Nephew's return from His pilgrimage to Hijaz and His arrest by Husayn Khan, 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 Shiraz to see Him. His only child, a Siyyid Javad, died in infancy. Towards the middle of the year 1265 A.H.,[2] <p447> this same Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali left Shiraz and visited the Bab in the castle of Chihriq. From thence he went to Tihran and, though having no special occupation, remained in that city until the outbreak of the sedition which brought about eventually his martyrdom.

[1 Literally, "The Greatest Uncle."]

[2 1848-9 A.D.]

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 Amir-Nizam. "The Chief Magistrate of this realm," the Grand Vazir informed him, "is loth to inflict the slightest injury upon the Prophet's descendants. Eminent merchants of Shiraz and Tihran 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 Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali, "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-Bab would be to apostatise from the Faith of my forefathers and to deny the Divine character of the Message which Muhammad, 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 imams of His Faith whose lives our recorded traditions have portrayed. I only request of you that you allow me to be <p448> the first to lay down my life in the path of my beloved Kinsman."

The Amir 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 Hafiz: "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 Fars, as well as Iraq, 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 Qa'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 Adhirbayjan 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."[1]

[1 "He took off his turban, and, raising his face towards heaven, exclaimed, 'O God, Thou art witness of how they are slaying the son of Thy most honourable Prophet without fault on his part.' Then he turned to the executioner and recited this verse: 'How long shall grief of separation from Him slay me? Cut off my head that Love may bestow on me a head.'" (Mathnavi, Book 6, p. 649, 1, 2; ed. Ala'u'd-Dawlih.) ("A Traveller's Narrative," Note B, p. 174.)]

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 <p449> one no less holy than the Imam Musay-i-Kazim [1] himself!" Shortly after, he departed for Khurasan 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 Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali 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.

[1 The Seventh Imam.]

2. Mirza Qurban-'Ali,[1] a native of Barfurush in the province of Mazindaran, and an outstanding figure in the community known by the name of Ni'matu'llahi. 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 Mazindaran, of Khurasan and Tihran 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 Karbila, a vast concourse of devoted admirers thronged his route in order to pay their homage to him. In Hamadan, as well as in Kirmanshah, 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 Karbila, while passing through Mandalij, 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'qubiyyih. Mirza Qurban-'Ali, however, succeeded in inducing him to return to Mandalij and resume the work which he had abandoned.

[1 According to Haji Mu'inu's-Saltanih's narrative (p. 131), Mirza Qurban-'Ali the dervish, met the Bab in the village of Khanliq.]

On his return from his pilgrimage, Mirza Qurban-'Ali met Mulla Husayn and through him embraced the truth of the Cause. Owing to illness, he was unable to join the defenders <p450> of the fort of Tabarsi, and, but for his unfitness to travel to Mazindaran, would have been the first to join its occupants. Next to Mulla Husayn, among the disciples of the Bab, Vahid was the person to whom he was most attached. During my visit to Tihran, 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 Mirza Qurban-'Ali, 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 Mulla Husayn and his companions have quaffed! I long to join Vahid and enrol myself under his banner and strive to make amends for my previous failure." He was preparing to leave Tihran, 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 aba,[1] and wearing the head-dress of the people of Iraq, 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 Bab 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?"

[1 See Glossary.]

When Mirza Qurban-'Ali was arrested and brought before the Amir-Nizam, a commotion such as Tihran 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 Amir, 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.[1] From what I learn of the position you occupy and the influence your words exercise, you are not <p451> much inferior to the Siyyid-i-Bab 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 recognized 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."

[1 "Mirza Qurban-'Ali was famous amongst mystics and dervishes, and had many friends and disciples in Tihran, besides being well known to most of the nobles and chief men, and even to the Shah's mother. She, because of her friendship for him and the compassion she felt for his plight, said to his Majesty the king: 'He is no Babi, but has been falsely accused.' So they sent and brought him out saying: 'Thou art a dervish, a scholar, and a man of learning; thou dost not belong to this misguided sect; a false charge has been preferred against thee.' He replied: 'I reckon myself one of the followers and servants of His Holiness, though whether or no He hath accepted me as such, I wot not.' When they continued to persuade him, holding out hopes of a pension and salary, he said: 'This life and these drops of blood of mine are of but small account; were the empire of the world mine, and had I a thousand lives, I would freely cast them all at the feet of His friends: 'To sacrifice the head for the Beloved, in mine eyes appears an easy thing indeed; Close thy lips, and cease to speak of mediation, For of mediation lovers have no need.' So at length they desisted in despair, and signified that he should die." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," p. 254.)]

"I am loth," the Amir-Nizam 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 Ali,[1] in whose path I am laying down my life, has <p452> from time immemorial inscribed my name, Qurban-'Ali,[2] in the scroll of His chosen martyrs. This is indeed the day on which I celebrate the Qurban 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 Amir. "Another moment, and this dervish will have cast his spell over me!" "You are proof against that magic," Mirza Qurban-'Ali 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."

[1 Reference to the Bab.]

[2 Qurban means "Sacrifice"; hence, "Sacrifice for the Bab."]

Exasperated by the reply, the Amir-Nizam 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, Mirza Qurban-'Ali, 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. "Muhammad, the Day-Star of Divine guidance, who in a former age arose above the horizon of Hijaz, has to-day, in the person of Ali-Muhammad, again risen from the Day-Spring of Shiraz, 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 <p453> 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 Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali, 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.[1]

[1 "When he was brought to the foot of the execution-pole, the headman raised his sword and smote him on the neck from behind. The blow only bowed his head, and caused the dervish's turban which he wore to roll some paces from him on the ground. Immediately as it were with his last breath, he sent a fresh pang through the heart of everyone capable of emotion by reciting these verses: 'Happy he whom love's intoxication So hath overcome that scarce he knows Whether at the feet of the Beloved It be head or turban which he throws!'" (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid", pp. 254-5.)]

3. Then came the turn of Haji Mulla Isma'il-i-Qumi, who was a native of Farahan. In his early youth, he departed for Karbila In quest of the Truth which he was diligently striving to discover. He had associated with all the leading ulamas of Najaf and Karbila, had sat at the feet of Siyyid Kazim, and had acquired from him the knowledge and understanding which enabled him, a few years later when in Shiraz, to acknowledge the Revelation of the Bab. He distinguished himself by the tenacity of his faith and the fervour of his devotion. As soon as the injunction of the Bab, bidding His <p454> followers hasten to Khurasan, 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'an and the traditions of Islam, 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 Tabarsi had become the rallying centre for the disciples of the Bab, 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 Tihran 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 <p455> still offering his devotions when the executioner, at his request, suddenly cut short his prayer.[1]

[1 "Now when they were ready to begin their work of decapitation and slaughter, it was Haji Mulla Isma'il's turn to die, one came to him, saying: 'Such an one of your friends will give such-and-such a sum of money to save you from death, on condition of your recanting, that thus they may be induced to spare you. In a case of dire necessity, when it is a question of saving your life, what harm is there in merely saying, "I am not a Babi," so that they may have a pretext for releasing you?' He replied: 'Were I willing to recant, even without money none would touch me.' Being further pressed and greatly importuned, he drew himself up to his full height amidst the crowd, and exclaimed, so that all might hear: 'Zephyr, prithee bear for me a message To that Ishmael who was not slain: "Living from the street of the Beloved Love permits not to return again."'" (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 253-4.)]

4. He had hardly expired when Siyyid Husayn-i-Turshizi, the mujtahid, was conducted in his turn to the block. He was a native of Turshiz, a village in Khurasan, 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 Khurasan and there propagate the principles he had been taught. When he arrived at Kazimayn, he met Haji Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Kirmani, an old acquaintance of his, who ranked among the foremost merchants of Kirman, and who had opened a branch of his business in Khurasan. As he was on his way to Persia, he decided to accompany him. This Haji Muhammad-Taqi had been a close friend of Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali, the Bab's maternal uncle, through whom he had been converted to the Cause in the year 1264 A.H.,[1] while preparing to leave Shiraz on a pilgrimage to Karbila. When informed of the projected journey of Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali to Chihriq for the purpose of visiting the Bab, he expressed his eager desire to accompany him. Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali advised him to carry out his original purpose and proceed to Karbila and there await his letter, which would inform him whether it would be advisable to join him. From Chihriq, Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali was ordered to depart for Tihran, in the hope that after a short stay in the capital he would be able to renew his visit to his Nephew. Whilst in Chihriq, he expressed his reluctance to return to Shiraz, inasmuch as he could no longer endure .the increasing arrogance of its inhabitants. <p456> Upon his arrival in Tihran, he requested Haji Muhammad-Taqi to join him. Siyyid Husayn accompanied him from Baghdad to the capital and through him was converted to the Faith.

[1 1847-8 A.D.]

As he faced the multitude that had gathered round him to witness his martyrdom, Siyyid Husayn raised his voice and said: "Hear me, O followers of Islam! My name is Husayn, and I am a descendant of the Siyyidu'sh-Shuhada, who also bore that name.[1] The mujtahids of the holy cities of Najaf and Karbila 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-Bab. The mastery I have obtained over the intricacies of the Islamic teachings has enabled me to appreciate the value of the Message which the Siyyid-i-Bab 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 ulamas 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 Bab. 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 Amir-Nizam haughtily interjected: "I carry with me your death-warrant signed and sealed by seven of the recognized mujtahids of Tihran, 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.

[1 The Imam Husayn.]

5. Soon after, Haji Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Kirmani was led <p457> 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 Husayn. To live after him is a torture I cannot endure."

6. No sooner had Haji Muhammad-Taqi uttered these words than Siyyid Murtada, who was one of the noted merchants of Zanjan, hastened to take precedence of his companions. He flung himself over the body of Haji Muhammad-Taqi, and pleaded that, being a siyyid, his martyrdom would be more meritorious in the sight of God than that of Haji Muhammad-Taqi. As the executioner <p458> unsheathed his sword, Siyyid Murtada invoked the memory of his martyred brother, who had struggled side by side with Mulla Husayn; 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 Murtada had raised, Muhammad-Husayn-i-Maraghiyi 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 Haji Mulla Isma'il-i-Qumi, 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.[1]

[1 "After detailing the occurrences briefly set forth above, the Babi historian proceeds to point out the special value and unique character of the testimony given by the "Seven Martyrs.' They were men representing all the more important classes in Persia--divines, dervishes, merchants, shopkeepers, and government officials; they were men who had enjoyed the respect and consideration of all; they died fearlessly, willingly, almost eagerly, declining to purchase life by that mere lip-denial which, under the name of kitman or taqiyyih, is recognized by the by the shi'ahs as a perfectly justifiable subterfuge in case of peril; they were not driven to despair of mercy as were those who died at Shaykh Tabarsi and Zanjan and they sealed their faith with their blood in the public square of the Persian capital wherein is the abode of the foreign ambassadors accredited to the court of the Shah. And herein the Babi historian is right: even those who speak severely of the Babi movement generally, characterising it as a communism destructive of all order and all morality, express commiseration for the guiltless victims. To the day of their martyrdom we may well apply Gobineau's eloquent reflection on a similar tragedy enacted two years later: ..."This eventful day brought to the Bab more secret followers than many sermons could have done. I have just said that the impression created by the prodigious endurance of the martyrs was deep and lasting. I have often heard repeated the story of that day by eye witnesses, by men close to the government, some even important officials. From their accounts, one might easily have believed that they were all Babis, so great was the admiration they felt for memories which were not to the honor of Islam, and so high was the esteem they entertained for the resourcefulness, the hopes and the chances of success of the new doctrine." ("A Traveller's Narrative," Note B, pp. 175-176.)] <p459>

At this stage of my narrative I was privileged to submit to Baha'u'llah 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 Akka, and lived in the neighbourhood of the house of Aqay-i-Kalim, when the summons of my Beloved reached me. That day, the seventh of the month of Rabi'u'th-Thani in the year 1306 A.H.,[1] I shall never forget. I here reproduce the gist of His words to me on that memorable occasion:

[1 December 11, 1888 A.D.]

"In a Tablet which We yesterday revealed, We have explained the meaning of the words, 'Turn your eyes away,'[1] 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 Tihran, when Siyyid Ahmad-i-Yazdi, father of Siyyid Husayn, the Bab'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 <p460> Us that Tahirih had been placed in strict confinement in Qazvin, and that her life was in great danger. We immediately summoned Muhammad-Hadiy-i-Farhadi, 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,[1] who, in those days, had been disgraced by his sovereign and had been deported to Kashan. We requested his sister, who still was numbered among Our friends, to act as hostess to Tahirih.

[1 According to Islamic traditions, Fatimih, Muhammad's daughter, will appear unveiled as she crosses the bridge "Sirat" on the Day of Judgment. At her appearance a voice from heaven will declare: "Turn your eyes away, O concourse of people!"]

[1 Mirza Aqa Khan-i-Nuri, who succeeded the Amir-Nizam as Grand Vazir of Nasiri'd-Din Shah.]

"She remained in her company until the call of the Bab, bidding Us proceed to Khurasan, reached Our ears. We decided that Tahirih should proceed immediately to that province, and commissioned Mirza [1] 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. Mirza Musa 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 Khurasan, and promised that We would follow within the space of a few days.

[1 Aqay-i-Kalim, brother of Baha'u'llah.]

"We soon joined her at Badasht, where We rented a garden for her use, and appointed the same Muhammad-Hadi 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. Tahirih 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 Mirza Aqa Jan [1] commented upon that incident. 'The face of Fatimih,' 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 <p461> shall be heard saying: "Turn your eyes away from that which ye have seen."

[1 Baha'u'llah's amanuensis.]

"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 Islam, 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-Nahri [1] and his brother Mirza Hadi, to both of whom We sent word that it was unnecessary for them to desert their companions and seek refuge in a castle.

[1 Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Nahri.]

"Our friends eventually dispersed, leaving Us at the mercy of Our enemies. When, at a later time, We went to Amul, 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 mulla of the town denounced Us bitterly. 'You have perverted the Faith of Islam,' he cried in his mazindarani 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 Qa'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 Qa'im's strong disapproval of the treatment he and his fellow-townsmen had accorded Us. He questioned Us regarding the Mission of the Bab. 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 Islam.

The mulla 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 <p462> friends to meet Us. The acting governor of Amul 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 Muhammad-Hadiy-i-Farhadi to Qazvin, in order to achieve the deliverance of Tahirih and conduct her to Tihran, Shaykh Abu-Turab 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 Tihran. For three days and three nights they remained abandoned in the Sabzih-Maydan, which adjoined the imperial palace, exposed to untold indignities which an unrelenting foe heaped upon them. Thousands of devout shi'ahs gathered round their corpses, kicked them with their <p463> 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 Shah Abdu'l-'Azim. 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.[1]

[1 "When the executioners had completed their bloody work, the rabble onlookers, awed for a while by the patient courage of the martyrs, again allowed their ferocious fanaticism to break out in insults to the mortal remains of those whose spirits had now passed beyond the power of their malice. They cast stones and filth at the motionless corpses, abusing them, and crying out, 'This is the recompense of the people of affection and of such as pursue the Path of Wisdom and Truth!' Nor would they suffer their bodies to be interred in a burial-ground, but cast them into a pit outside the Gate of Shah Abdu'l-'Azim, which they then filled up." ("A Traveller's Narrative," Note B, pp. 174-5.)]

The news of their martyrdom came as an added blow to the Bab, who was already plunged in sorrow at the fate that had befallen the heroes of Tabarsi. 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 Islam, who on the Day of Judgment shall "walk in front of the promised Qa'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 Qa'im, the Bab explained, is meant that their martyrdom will precede that of the Qa'im Himself, who is their Shepherd. What the Bab had predicted came to be fulfilled, inasmuch as His own martyrdom occurred four months later in Tabriz.

That memorable year witnessed, in addition to the martyrdom of the Bab and that of His seven companions in Tihran, the momentous happenings of Nayriz which culminated in the death of Vahid. Towards the end of that same year, Zanjan 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 <p464> the Bab'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 Khurasan, on the eastern confines of Persia, as far west as Tabriz, the scene of the Bab's martyrdom, and from the northern cities of Zanjan and Tihran stretching south as far as Nayriz, in the province of Fars, the whole country was enveloped in darkness, a darkness that heralded the dawning light of the Revelation which the expected Husayn was soon to manifest, a Revelation mightier and more glorious than that which the Bab Himself had proclaimed.[1]

[1 'While these developments were taking place in the north of Persia, the provinces of the center and the south were deeply stirred by the enthusiastic appeals of the missionaries of the new doctrine. The people-- light, credulous, ignorant, superstitious in the extreme--were dumbfounded by the accounts of continuous miracles of which they heard every minute; the Mullas, deeply concerned, feeling that their wavering flock was ready to escape their control, multiplied their slanders and defamation; the grossest lies, the most cruel fictions were circulated among the bewildered masses, divided between terror and admiration." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 387.)] <p465>




IN THE early days of the siege of the fort of Tabarsi, Vahid was engaged in spreading the teachings of the Cause in Burujird as well as in the province of Kurdistan. He had resolved to win the majority of the inhabitants of those regions to the Faith of the Bab, and had intended to proceed from thence to Fars and there continue his labours. As soon as he had learned of Mulla Husayn's departure for Mazindaran, he hastened to the capital and undertook the necessary preparations for his journey to the fort of Tabarsi. He was preparing to leave, when Baha'u'llah arrived from Mazindaran and informed him of the impossibility of joining his brethren. He was greatly saddened at this news, and his only consolation in those days was to visit Baha'u'llah frequently, and to obtain the benefit of His wise and priceless counsels.[1]

[1 "When, after the lapse of some time," writes Mirza Jani, "I again had the honour of meeting Aqa Siyyid Yahya in Tihran, I observed in his august countenance the signs of a glory and power which I had not noticed during my first journey with him to the capital, nor on other occasions of meeting, and I knew that these signs portended the near approach of his departure from the world Subsequently he said several times in the course of conversation: 'This is my last journey, and hereafter you will see me no more'; and often, explicitly or by implication, he gave utterance to the same thought. Sometimes when we were together, and the conversation took an appropriate turn, he would remark: 'The saints of God are able to foretell coming events, and I swear, by that loved One in the grasp of whose power my soul lies, that I know and could tell where and how I shall be slain, and who it is that shall slay me And how glorious and blessed a thing it is that my blood should be shed for the uplifting of the Word of Truth!'" (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," p. 115.)]

Vahid eventually determined to proceed to Qazvin and to resume the work in which he had been engaged. From thence he left for Qum and Kashan, where he met his fellow-disciples and was able to stimulate their enthusiasm and reinforce their efforts. He continued his journey to Isfahan, to Ardistan and Ardikan, 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 <p466> number of able supporters to the Cause. He reached Yazd in time to celebrate the festivities of Naw-Ruz 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 Darab, which was the abode of his ancestors, and another one in Nayriz, which was superbly furnished.

He arrived at Yazd on the first day of the month of Jamadiyu'l-Avval, in the year 1266 A.H.,[1] the fifth day of which, the anniversary of the Bab's Declaration, coincided with the feast of Naw-Ruz. The leading ulamas and notables of the city all came on that day to greet him and to offer their best wishes. Navvab-i-Radavi, 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 Shah'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." Vahid's bold and sarcastic retort provoked the laughter of those who were present. All applauded, in view of the avarice <p467> and wickedness of the Navvab, the appropriateness of his remark. The Navvab, 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.

[1 1850 A.D.]

Vahid 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.[1]

[1 "Carried away by his zeal and overflowing with the love of God, he was eager to reveal to Persia the glory and joy of the one eternal Truth. 'To love and to conceal one's secret is impossible,' says the poet; so our Siyyid began to preach openly in the Mosques, in the streets, in the bazaars, on the public squares, in a word, wherever he could find listeners. Such an enthusiasm brought forth fruit and the conversions were numerous and sincere. The Mullas, deeply troubled, violently denounced the sacrilege to the governor of the city." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 390.)]

To destroy the life of Vahid became the paramount object of their activity. They spread the news that, on the day of Naw-Ruz, in the midst of the assembled dignitaries of the city, both civil and ecclesiastical, Siyyid Yahyay-i-Darabi had had the temerity to unveil the challenging features of the Faith of the Bab and had adduced, for the purpose of his argument, proofs and evidences gleaned both from the Qur'an and from the traditions of Islam. "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 <p468> 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 Ardikan 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 Vahid. "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, Vahid 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 Navvab-i-Radavi with a fresh pretext for enlisting the support of the governor of the city,[1] 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 Vahid. 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 Navvab, directing their steps towards that same place, determined by their threats and imprecations to intimidate its occupants.

[1 His name was Aqa Khan.]

Though hemmed in by hostile forces on every side, Vahid 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 <p469> them, they turned to Vahid 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 Qa'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 Hasan had saddled and brought to the front of his house, "the late Muhammad Shah 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-Bab. 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 Tihran 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 Tihran 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 Muhammad-Abdu'llah, whom no one suspected of being still alive, had suddenly emerged with a number of his comrades, who had <p470> likewise disappeared from sight, and, raising the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!"[1] 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.

[1 See Glossary.]

That night, Muhammad-'Abdu'llah asked to be introduced into the presence of Vahid. He assured him of his <p471> faith in the Cause, and acquainted him with the plans he had conceived of subjugating the enemy. "Although your intervention," Vahid replied, "has to-day averted from this house the danger of an unforeseen calamity, yet you must recognize that until now our contest with these people was limited to an argument centering round the Revelation of the Sahibu'z-Zaman. The Navvab, 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." Vahid 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."

Muhammad-'Abdu'llah, however, preferred to ignore the advice of Vahid. "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 [1] on the day of Ashura,[2] and left him companionless on the field of Karbila? A merciful God will, I trust, be indulgent towards me and will forgive my action."

[1 The Imam Husayn.]

[2 The tenth of Muharram, the day on which the Imam Husayn was martyred.]

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 Navvab had succeeded in raising a general upheaval in which the mass of the inhabitants took part. They were preparing to attack the house of Vahid when he summoned Siyyid Abdu'l-'Azim-i-Khu'i, surnamed the Siyyid-i-Khal-Dar, who had participated for a few days in the defence of the fort of Tabarsi, and whose dignity of bearing attracted widespread attention, and bade him mount his own steed and address publicly, through the streets and <p472> bazaars, an appeal on his behalf to the entire populace, and urge them to embrace the Cause of the Sahibu'z-Zaman. "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 Navvab, 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 Vahid, whose lineage they said they would henceforth recognize and respect.

Constrained by the blank refusal of the people to fight against Vahid, the Navvab induced them to direct their attack against Muhammad-'Abdu'llah 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 Navvab. Muhammad-'Abdu'llah 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 <p473> wounded. His brother hurriedly got him away to a place of safety, and from thence carried him, at his request, to the house of Vahid.

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 Vahid to order Mulla Muhammad-Riday-i-Manshadi, one of the most enlightened ulamas 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 'Allah-u-Akbar,'[1] and on your seventh invocation spring forward at one and the same moment into the midst of your assailants."

[1 "God is Most Great."]

Mulla Muhammad-Rida, whom Baha'u'llah had named Rada'r-Ruh, 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 Jamadiyu'th-Thani.[1] "No sooner had we routed the enemy," Mulla Muhammad-Rida related, "and returned to the house of Vahid, than we found Muhammad-'Abdu'llah 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."

[1 May 10, 1850 A.D.]

That very night, Vahid 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 <p474> 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, Vahid arose and, collecting the writings of the Bab that were in his possession, as well as the copies of all the treatises that he himself had composed, entrusted them to his servant Hasan, and ordered him to convey them to a place outside the gate of the city where the road branches off to Mihriz. 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 Hasan 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 recognized him, shot his horse, and captured him.

Meanwhile Vahid was preparing to depart from Yazd. Leaving his two sons, Siyyid Isma'il and Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad, in the care of their mother, he left, accompanied by his two other sons, Siyyid Ahmad and Siyyid Mihdi, 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-Rida, was a man of exceptional courage, while the latter, Ghulam-Riday-i-Kuchik, 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 Hasan was missing. Vahid knew immediately that he had disregarded his directions and had been captured by the <p475> enemy. He deplored his fate, and was reminded of the action of Muhammad-'Abdu'llah, 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 Hasan was blown from the mouth of a cannon[1] and that a certain Mirza Hasan, who had been the imam 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.

[1 "When they would have bound him with his back towards the gun, he said: 'Bind me, I pray you, with my face towards the gun, that I may see it fired.' The gunners and those who stood looking on were all astonished at his composure and cheerfulness, and indeed one who can be cheerful in such a plight must needs have great faith and fotitude." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid", p. 117.)]

The departure of Vahid from Yazd roused the enemy to fresh exertions. They rushed to his house, plundered his possessions, and demolished it completely.[1] He himself was meanwhile directing his steps towards Nayriz. Though unaccustomed to walking, he covered, that night, seven farsangs[2] on foot, while his sons were carried part of the way by his two companions.

[1 "When Aqa Khan had verified the disappearance of the rebel, he gave a sigh of relief. Besides, he felt that to pursue the fugitives would involve some peril and that, therefore, it would be infinitely more practical, more beneficial, more profitable and less dangerous to torture the Babis, or those presumed to be Babis - provided that they were wealthy - who had remained in the city. He sought out the most prosperous, ordered their execution, and confiscated their possessions, avenging thus his outraged religion, a matter perhaps of little concern to him, and filling his coffers, which pleased him immensely." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 391.)]

[2 Farsang: Farsakh: Unit of measurement. Its length differs in different parts of the country according to the nature of the ground, the local interpretation of the term being the distance which a laden mule will walk in the hour, which varies from three to four mile. Arabicised from the old Persian "parsang," and supposed to be derived from pieces of stone (sang) placed an the roadside.]

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 Vahid, 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.

Vahid, in the meantime, made his way through the mountains until he reached the district of Bavanat-i-Fars. Most of its inhabitants, who were numbered among his fervent admirers, readily embraced the Cause, among whom was the <p476> well-known Haji Siyyid Isma'il, the Shaykhu'l-Islam of Bavanat. 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, Vahid'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 a 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, Vahid 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 Nayriz, the entire population of the Chinar-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-'Abidin Khan, the governor of Nayriz, should object to their visit, the majority of them set out at night. From the quarter of Chinar-Sukhtih alone more than a hundred students, preceded by their leader, Haji Shaykh Abdu'l-Ali, the father-in-law of Vahid, and a judge of recognized standing throughout that district, were moved to join a number of the most distinguished among the notables of Nayriz in greeting the expected visitor ere his arrival at their town. Among these figured Mulla Abdu'l-Husayn, a venerable man of eighty who was highly esteemed for his piety and learning; Mulla Baqir, who was the Imam of the Chinar-Sukhtih quarter; Mirza Husayn-i-Qutb, the kad-khuda'[1] of the Bazar quarter, <p477> with all his relatives; Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, a relative of the governor; Haji Muhammad-Taqi, who has been mentioned by Baha'u'llah in the "Suriy-i-Ayyub," together with his son-in-law; Mirza Nawra and Mirza Ali-Rida, both of the Sadat quarter.[2]

[1 See Glossary.]

[2 "The Nayrizis welcomed Siyyid Yahya with the greatest enthusiasm. Barely two days after his arrival, a large number came to see him by night out of fear of the government, says the Fars-Namih, and offered their services, for they hated their rulers. Others, mostly residents of the district of Chinar-Sukhtih, were converted in great numbers. Their example was contagious and soon the Babis could count, in their midst, the tullabs of Chinar-Sukhtih who numbered about one hundred, their chief Haji Shaykh Abdu'l-'Ali, father of the wife of Siyyid Yahya, the late Akhund Mulla Abdu'l-Husayn, an aged gentleman well versed in religious literature, Akhund Mulla Baqir, Pish-namaz of the district, Mulla Ali Katib, another Mulla Ali with his four brothers, and the kad-khuda, and the Rish-Safid, and other citizens from the quarter called 'Bazar', such as the late Mashhadi Mirza Husayn called Qutb, with all of his family and his relatives, Mirza Abu'l-Qasim who was the nephew of the governor! Haji Muhammad-Taqi surnamed Ayyub and his son-in-law Mirza Husayn and many others from the quarter of the Siyyid, and the son of Mirza Nawra, and Mirza Ali-Rida, son of Mirza Husayn, and the son of Haji Ali, etc., etc. All were converted, some at night in deadly fear, others openly and fearlessly." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 393.)]

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 Bab had revealed a general Tablet addressed specially to those who had newly embraced His Cause in Nayriz, yet its recipients remained ignorant of its significance and fundamental principles. It was given to Vahid to enlighten them regarding its true purpose and set forth its distinguishing features.

No sooner had Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan been made aware of the considerable exodus that had taken place for the purpose of welcoming the arrival of Vahid, 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 [1] from Nayriz. He chose that <p478> 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.

[1 See Glossary.]

Vahid had meanwhile left Runiz for the shrine of Pir-Murad, which was situated outside the village of Istahbanat. Despite the interdiction pronounced by the ulamas of that village against his admittance, no less than twenty of its inhabitants went out to welcome him, and accompanied him as far as Nayriz. When they arrived, in the forenoon of the fifteenth of Rajab,[1] the first thing Vahid did, as soon as he reached his native quarter of Chinar-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 Bab. 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.[2] No less than a thousand persons, all natives <p479> of the Chinar-Sukhtih quarter, and five hundred others from other sections of Nayriz, 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 Nayriz had never before experienced. "My sole purpose," Vahid went on, explaining to his audience, as soon as the first flush of excitement had subsided, "in coming to Nayriz 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 <p480> from Shiraz 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."

[1 May 27, 1850.]

[2 "He ascended the pulpit and cried out: 'Am I not he whom you have always considered your shepherd and your guide? Have you not always depended on my teaching for the direction of your conscience in the path of salvation? Am I not he whose words of counsel you have always obeyed? What has happened that you should treat me as though I were your enemy and the enemy of your religion? What lawful deeds have I forbidden? What illicit action have I permitted? With what impiety can you charge me? Have I ever led you into error? And behold! That because I have told you the truth, because I have loyally sought to instruct you, I am oppressed and persecuted! My heart burns with love for you and you persecute me! Remember! Remember well, whosoever saddens me, saddens my ancestor Muhammad, the glorious Prophet, and whosoever helps me, helps him also. In the name of all that is sacred to you let all those who love the Prophet follow me!'" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 395.)]

No sooner had these words escaped their lips than men and women joined hands in conducting Vahid 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 Vahid consented to tarry in Nayriz were spent mostly in the masjid, where he continued with his customary <p481> 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-'Abidin Khan. 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.

Vahid, 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 Nayriz, to occupy the fort of Khajih, which was situated in the vicinity of the Chinar-Sukhtih quarter. He appointed Shaykh Hadi, son of Shaykh Muhsin, 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 Bazar 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 Abu-Talib, the kad-khuda[1] of that quarter and one of the companions of Vahid, to evacuate his house, he fortified its roof and, stationing upon it a number of his men, under the command of Muhammad-'Ali Khan, he gave orders to open fire upon his adversary. The first to suffer was that same Mulla Abdu'l-Husayn who, despite his advanced age, had walked out to welcome Vahid. 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 Vahid, who hastened, in a written message to the sufferer, <p482> 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.

[1 See Glossary.]

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. Vahid 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 Khajih, where he fixed his residence.

His arrival was the signal for a fresh attack upon him. Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan immediately despatched his elder brother, Ali-Asghar Khan, 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 Vahid, 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-Din, a man renowned for his fearlessness, whose business was the manufacture of the woollen kulah;[1] the second was Zaynil, son of Iskandar, who was an agriculturist by profession; the third was Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, who was a man of distinguished merit.

[1 See Glossary.]

This complete and sudden rout aroused the apprehensions of Prince Firuz Mirza, the Nusratu'd-Dawlih, governor of Shiraz, who gave orders for the prompt extermination of the occupants of the fort. Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan despatched one of the prince's attendants to Vahid, urging him, in view of the strained relations between them, to depart from Nayriz, in the hope that the mischief that had been kindled might soon be extinguished. "Tell him," replied Vahid, "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 <p483> 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-'Abidin Khan ignored his warning, Vahid 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. Ali-Asghar Khan himself perished, and two of his sons were captured. Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan 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.

Vahid, 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. Karbila'i Mirza Muhammad was made the gatekeeper of the fort; Shaykh Yusuf, the custodian of the funds; Karbila'i Muhammad, son of Shamsu'd-Din, the superintendent of the gardens adjoining the fort and its barricades; Mirza Ahmad, the uncle of Aliy-i-Sardar, 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; Shaykhi-i-Shivih-Kash to be the executioner; Mirza Muhammad-Ja'far, cousin of Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan, the chronicler; Mirza Fadlu'llah as the reader of these records; Mashhadi Taqi-Baqqal to be the gaoler; Muhammad Taqi, the registrar; and Ghulam-Riday-i-Yazdi 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 <p484> from Istahbanat to Nayriz, Vahid was induced, at the instance of Siyyid Ja'far-i-Yazdi, a well-known divine, and Shaykh Abdu'l-'Ali, Vahid's father-in-law, to admit to the fort a number of the residents of the Bazar quarter, together with several of his own kindred.

Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan 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 tumans [1] as his personal gift to him. He entrusted his letter to one of his intimate friends, Mulla Baqir, 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. Mulla Baqir 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.

[1 See Glossary.]

Mulla Baqir dismounted near one of these tents, and whilst he was talking with its occupants, Haji Siyyid Isma'il, the Shaykhu'l-Islam of Bavanat, arrived. He had obtained leave from Vahid to proceed to his native village on some urgent affair, and to return immediately to Nayriz. 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-'Abidin Khan, who had arrived from Nayriz and was on his way to Shiraz, Haji Siyyid Isma'il, 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 Mulla Baqir was still conversing: "Arrest this scoundrel, who has fled from before the face of the Sahibu'z-Zaman. [1] Tie his hands and deliver him to me." Affrighted by the words and manner of Haji Mulla Isma'il, the occupants of the tent immediately obeyed. They bound his hands and delivered the rope with which they had tied him to Haji Siyyid Isma'il, who spurred on his charger in the direction of Nayriz 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 <p485> captive into the hands of its kad-khuda, whose name was Haji Akbar, urging that he be conducted into the presence of Vahid. When brought before him, the latter enquired as to the purpose of his journey to Shiraz, to which he gave a frank and detailed reply. Though Vahid was willing to forgive him, yet Mulla Baqir, by reason of his attitude towards him, was eventually put to death at the hands of the companions.

[1 See Glossary.]

Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan, far from relaxing in his determination to solicit the aid he needed from Shiraz, 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 Shiraz 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 ulamas and siyyids of Shiraz, wherein he glaringly misrepresented the aims of Vahid, 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'llah Khan, the Shuja'u'l-Mulk, to set out at once for Nayriz, accompanied by the Hamadani and Silakhuri regiments, headed by several officers, and provided with an adequate force of artillery. He, moreover, instructed his representative in Nayriz to recruit all the able-bodied men from the surrounding district, including the villages of Istahbanat, Iraj, Panj-Ma'adin, Qutrih, Bashnih, Dih-Chah, Mushkan, and Rastaq. To these he added the members of the tribe known by the name of Visbaklariyyih, whom he commanded to join the army of Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan.

An innumerable host suddenly surrounded the fort in which Vahid and his companions were besieged, and began to dig trenches around it and to set up barricades along those trenches.[1] No sooner was the work accomplished than they <p486> opened fire on them. A bullet struck the house on which one of Vahid'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.

[1 The author of Nasikhu't Tavarikh affirms without the least sorrow that the imperial troops were poorly trained and not at all eager to fight, so, with no thought of attacking, they established a camp which they hastened to fortify immediately." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 401.)]

The second night, however, Vahid summoned Ghulam-Riday-i-Yazdi 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 "Allah-u-Akbar!"[1] to spring into the midst of the enemy.

[1 See Glossary.]

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 Nayriz, as well as from its surrounding fortifications reinforcements rushed to the aid of the small company that had withstood so valiantly <p487> the combined forces of a whole army. As the scope of the struggle extended, the voices of the women of Nayriz, 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 "Allah-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-Riday-i-Yazdi (not to be confounded with the captain of the forces who bore the same name),

2. Brother of Ghulam-Riday-i-Yazdi,

3. Ali, son of Khayru'llah,

4. Khajih Husayn-i-Qannad, son of Khajih Ghani,

5. Asghar, son of Mulla Mihdi,

6. Karbila'i Abdu'l-Karim,

7. Husayn, son of Mashhadi Muhammad,

8. Zaynu'l-'Abidin, son of Mashhadi Baqir-i-Sabbagh,

9. Mulla Ja'far-i-Mudhahhib,

10. Abdu'llah, son of Mulla Musa,

11. Muhammad, son of Mashhadi Rajab-i-Haddad,

12. Karbila'i Hasan, son of Karbila'i Shamsu'd-Din-i-Maliki-Duz,

13. Karbila'i Mirza Muhammad-i-Zari',

14. Karbila'i Baqir-i-Kafsh-Duz,

15. Mirza Ahmad, son of Mirza Husayn-i-Kashi-Saz,

16. Mulla Hasan, son of Mulla Abdu'llah,

17. Mashhadi Haji Muhammad,

18. Abu-Talib, son of Mir Ahmad-i-Nukhud-Biriz,

19. Akbar, son of Muhammad-i-'Ashur,

20. Taqiy-i-Yazdi,

21. Mulla Ali, son of Mulla Ja'far,

22. Karbila'i Mirza Husayn,

23. Husayn Khan, son of Sharif, <p488>

24. Karbila'i Qurban,

25. Khajih Kazim, son of Khajih Ali,

26. Aqa, son of Haji Ali,

27. Mirza Nawra, son of Mirza Mu'ina.

So complete a failure convinced Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan and his staff of the futility of their efforts to compel, in an open contest, the submission of their adversaries.[1] As was the case with the army of Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, 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-'Abidin Khan and his staff eventually resorted, they betrayed their powerlessness, despite the vast resources at their disposal and the moral support which the governor of Fars 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.

[1 "Although the losses were almost even this time, the imperial troops were none-the-less frightened; things were dragging on and might moreover end in the general confusion of the Mussulmans, so they resolved to resort to 1 deceit." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 403.)]

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 Islam. 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 Islam. All that you seem to uphold is the claim that a man has <p489> appeared whose words are inspired and whose testimony is certain, and whom all the followers of Islam must recognize 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 recognized as one of the ablest champions of Islam, and we regard him as our example and guide. This Qur'an, 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 Cause."

Vahid received the Qur'an with great reverence and kissed it devoutly. "Our appointed hour has struck," he remarked. "Our acceptance of their invitation will surely make them feel the baseness of their treachery." "Though I am well aware of their designs," he added, as he turned to his companions, "I feel it my duty to accept their call and take the opportunity to attempt once again to unfold the verities of my beloved Faith." He bade them continue to discharge their duties, and place no reliance whatever on <p490> what their adversaries might profess to believe. He, moreover, ordered them to suspend all manner of hostilities until further notice from him.

With these words he bade farewell to his companions and, accompanied by five attendants, among whom were Mulla Aliy-i-Mudhahhib and the treacherous Haji Siyyid Abid, set out for the camp of the enemy. Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan, accompanied by Shuja'u'l-Mulk and all the members of his staff, came out to welcome him. They ceremoniously received him, conducted him to a tent that had been specially pitched for his reception, and introduced him to the rest of the officers. He seated himself upon a chair, while the rest of the company, with the exception of Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan, Shuja'u'l-Mulk, and another officer, whom he motioned to be seated, all stood before him. The words in which he addressed them were such that even a stone-hearted man could not fail to feel their power. Baha'u'llah, in the "Suriy-Sabr," has immortalised that noble appeal and revealed the full measure of its significance. "I am come to you," Vahid declared, "armed with the testimony with which my Lord has entrusted me. Am I not a descendant of the Prophet of God? Wherefore should you have risen to slay me? For what reason have you pronounced my death-sentence, and refused to recognize the undoubted rights with which my lineage has invested me?"

The majesty of his bearing, combined with his penetrating eloquence, confounded his hearers. For three days and three nights, they lavishly entertained him and treated him with marked respect. In their congregational prayer, they invariably followed his lead, and attentively listened to his discourse. Though outwardly they seemed to be bowing to his will, yet they were secretly plotting against his life and were conspiring to exterminate the remnant of his companions. They knew full well that, were they to inflict upon him the least injury while his companions remained entrenched behind the walls of their fort, they would be exposing themselves to a peril still greater than the one they had already been compelled to face. They trembled at the fury and vengeance of their women no less than at the bravery and skill of their men. They realised that all the resources of <p491> the army had been powerless to subdue a handful of immature lads and decrepit old men. Nothing short of a bold and well-conceived stratagem could ensure their ultimate victory. The fear that filled their hearts was to a great extent inspired by the words of Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan, who, with unrelaxing determination, sought to maintain undiminished the hatred with which he had inflamed their souls. Vahid's repeated exhortations had aroused his apprehensions lest he should succeed, by the magic of his words, in inducing them to transfer their allegiance to so eloquent an opponent.

Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan and his friends at last decided to request Vahid to address in his own handwriting a message to his companions who were still within the fort, to inform them that an amicable settlement of their differences had been effected, and to urge them either to join him at the headquarters of the army or to return to their homes. Though reluctant to give his assent to such a request, Vahid was eventually forced to submit. In addition to this message, he confidentially informed his companions, in a second letter, of the evil designs of the enemy, and warned them not to allow themselves to be deceived. He entrusted both letters to Haji Siyyid Abid, instructing him to destroy the former and deliver the latter to his companions. He charged him, moreover, to urge them to choose the ablest among their number, and to sally forth in the dead of night and scatter the forces of the enemy.

No sooner had Haji Siyyid Abid received these directions than he treacherously communicated them to Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan. The latter immediately sought to induce him to urge the occupants of the fort, in the name of their leader, to disperse, promising that he would in return abundantly reward him. The disloyal messenger delivered the first letter to Vahid's companions, and informed them that their leader had succeeded in winning over to his Faith the entire army, and that in view of this conversion he had advised them to leave for their homes.

Though extremely bewildered by such a message, the companions felt unable to disregard the wishes Vahid had so clearly expressed. They reluctantly dispersed, leaving all the fortifications unguarded. Obedient to the commands <p492> [Illustrations: THE MASJID-I-JAMI' AT NAYRIZ, WHERE VAHID ADDRESSED THE CONGREGATION] <p493> written by their leader, several of them discarded their arms, and directed their steps towards Nayriz.

Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan, anticipating the immediate evacuation of the fort, despatched a detachment of his forces to intercept their entry into the town. They were soon encompassed by a multitude of armed men, who were being continually reinforced from the army's headquarters. Finding themselves thus unexpectedly hemmed in, they determined by every means in their power to repulse the attack and gain the Masjid-i-Jami' as swiftly as possible. By the aid of swords and rifles which some of them were carrying, others with sticks and stones only, they sought to force their way to the town. The cry of "Allah-u-Akbar!"[1] rose again, fiercer and more compelling than ever. A few among them suffered martyrdom, as they forced their way through the ranks of their treacherous assailants. The rest, though wounded and harassed by fresh reinforcements which had beset them from every side, eventually succeeded in attaining the shelter of the masjid.

[1 See Glossary.]

Meanwhile the notorious Mulla Hasan, the son of Mulla Muhammad-'Ali, an officer in the army of Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan, succeeded, together with his men, in outdistancing his opponents and, concealing himself in one of the minarets of that masjid, lay in wait for the fugitives. No sooner had the scattered band approached the masjid than he opened fire upon them. A certain Mulla Husayn recognized him and, raising the cry of "Allah-u-Akbar!" scaled the minaret, aimed his rifle at that cowardly officer, and hurled him to the ground. His friends carried him away to a place where he was enabled to recover from his wound.

The companions, unable any longer to obtain shelter in the masjid, were compelled to hide in whatever place of safety they could find, until such time as they might ascertain the fate of their leader. Their first thought after their betrayal was to seek his presence and follow whatever instructions he might wish to give them. They were, however, unable to discover what had befallen him, and trembled at the thought that he might have been put to death.

Meanwhile Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan and his staff, emboldened <p494> by the dispersal of the companions, were strenuously exerting themselves to discover means whereby they could evade the obligations of their solemn oath and proceed unhindered to slay their chief opponent. They endeavoured by some specious device to set aside their sacred promises and to hasten the fulfilment of a long-cherished desire. In the midst of their deliberations, Abbas-Quli Khan, a man notorious for his ruthlessness and cruelty, assured his comrades that if the thought of having taken that oath perplexed them, he himself had in no wise participated in that declaration, and was ready to execute what they felt unable to perform. "I can arrest at any time," he burst forth in a fit of indignation, "and put to death whomever I deem guilty of having violated the laws of the land." He immediately afterwards called upon all those whose kinsmen had perished to execute the sentence of death pronounced against Vahid. The first to present himself was Mulla Rida, whose brother Mulla Baqir had been captured by the Shaykhu'l-Islam of Bavanat; the next was a man named Safar, whose brother Sha'ban had perished; the third was Aqa Khan, whose father, Ali-Asghar Khan, elder brother of Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan, had suffered the same fate.

In their eagerness to carry out the suggestion of Abbas-Quli Khan, these men snatched the turban from the head of Vahid, wound it around his neck, and, binding him to a horse, dragged him ignominiously through the streets.[1] The indignities that were heaped upon him reminded those who witnessed that awful spectacle of the tragic end of the Imam Husayn, whose body was abandoned to the mercy of an infuriated enemy, and upon which a multitude of horsemen pitilessly trampled. The women or Nayriz, stirred to the highest pitch of excitement by the shouts of triumph which a murderous enemy was raising, pressed from every side around the corpse, and, to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals, gave free vent to their feelings of unrestrained fanaticism. <p495> They danced merrily around it, scornful of the words which Vahid, in the midst of his agony, had spoken, words which the Imam Husayn, in a former age and in similar circumstances, had uttered: "Thou knowest, O my Beloved, that I have abandoned the world for Thy sake, and have placed my trust in Thee alone. I am impatient to hasten to Thee, for the beauty of Thy countenance has been unveiled to my eyes. Thou dost witness the evil designs which my wicked persecutor has cherished against me. Nay, never will I submit to his wishes or pledge my allegiance to him."

[1 "He took hold of the green belt of Yahya, symbol of his holy ancestry, tied it in a knot about his neck and began to drag him on the ground. Then came Safar whose brother Sha'ban had fallen during the war, then Aqa Jan, son of Ali-Asghar Khan, brother of Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan, and the Muhammadans, aroused by the scene, stoned and beat to death the unfortunate man. They then severed the head, tore off the skin, stuffed it with straw and sent that trophy to Shiraz!" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 406.)]

Thus was brought to an end a noble and heroic life. Such an eventful and brilliant career, distinguished by such vast learning,[1] such dauntless courage, and so rare a spirit of self-sacrifice, surely required for crown a death as glorious as that which completed his martyrdom.[2] The extinction of that life was the signal for a fierce onslaught on the lives and property of those who had identified themselves with his Faith. No less than five thousand men were commissioned for that villainous task. The men were seized, chained, ill-treated, and eventually slaughtered. The women and children were captured and subjected to brutalities which no pen dare describe. Their property was confiscated, and their houses were destroyed. The fort of Khajih was burned to the ground. The majority of the men were first conducted in chains to Shiraz, and there, for the most part, suffered a cruel death.[3] Those whom Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan, for purposes <p496> of personal benefit, had plunged into dark and subterranean dungeons were, as soon as his object had been achieved, delivered into the hands of his myrmidons, who perpetrated upon them acts of unspeakable cruelty.[4] They were paraded at first through the streets of Nayriz, after which they were subjected to atrocious treatment in the hope of extracting from them whatever material advantage their persecutors had hitherto been unable to obtain. These having satisfied their greed, each victim was made to suffer an agonising death. Every instrument of torture their executioners could devise was utilised to quench their thirst for revenge. They were branded, their nails were pulled out, their bodies were lashed, an incision was made in the nose through which a string was driven, nails were hammered into their hands and feet, and in that piteous state each of them was dragged through the streets, an object of contempt and derision to all the people.

[1 According to Abdu'l-Baha's testimony, he had committed to memory no less than thirty thousand traditions. (Manuscript entitled "Baha'i Martyrs".)]

[2 Baha'u'llah refers to him as "that unique and peerless figure of his age." (The "Kitab-i-Iqan," p. 188.) The Bab, in the "Dala'il-i-Sab'ih," refers to him in the following terms: 'Behold again the number of the name of God (Siyyid Yahya)! This man was living a holy, peaceful life in such a way that no one could deny his talents or his sanctity, all admired his greatness in the sciences and the heights he had attained in philosophy. Refer to the commentary of the Suratu'l-Kawthar (Qur'an: S. 108) and to the other treatises written for him, which prove how high a place he occupies in the sight of God!'" ("Le Livre des Sept Preuves," translated by A. L. M. Nicolas, pp. 54-55.)]

[3 "Siyyid Yahya was strangled with his own girdle by one whose two brothers had been killed during the siege, and the other Babis likewise died by the hands of the executioner. The heads of the victims were stuffed with straw, and bearing with them these grim trophies of their prowess, together with some forty or fifty Babi women and one child of tender age as captives, the victorious army returned to Shiraz. Their entry into that city was made the occasion of general rejoicing; the captives were paraded through the streets and bazaars and finally brought before Prince Firuz Mirza, who was feasting in a summer-house called Kulah-i-Farangi. In his presence Mihr-'Ali Khan, Mirza Na'im, and the other officers recounted the details of their victory, and received congratulations and marks of favour. The captive women were finally imprisoned in an old caravanserai outside the Isfahan gate. What treatment they experienced at the hands of their captors is left to our conjecture." ("A Traveller's Narrative," Note H, p. 190.) "This day was a fete day, so an eye witness tells us. The inhabitants were scattered about through the countryside, bringing with them their food and many among them drinking, on the sly, whole bottles of wine. The air was filled with musical strains, the songs of musicians, the screaming and laughter of the lewd women. The bazaars were adorned with flags joy was general. Suddenly there was absolute silence. They saw coming thirty-two camels, each carrying an unfortunate prisoner, a woman or a child, bound and thrown crosswise over the saddle like a bundle. All around them were soldiers carrying long lances and upon each lance was impaled the head of a Babi who had been slain at Nayriz. The hideousness of the sight deeply affected the holiday population of Shiraz and they returned, saddened, to their dwellings. "The horrible caravan passed through the bazaars and continued to the palace of the governor. This personage was in his garden where he had gathered in his kiosk (called Kulah-i-Farangi) the rich, the eminent citizens of Shiraz. The music ceased, the dancing stopped and Muhammad-'Ali-Khan as well as Mirza Na'im, two small tribal chiefs who had taken part in the campaign, came to tell of their brave deeds and to name one by one the prisoners." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 407.)]

[4 "It would seem, alas, that all this bloodshed would have been sufficient to appease the hatred and the lust of the Muhammadans. Not at all! Mirza Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan, finding himself threatened with a desire for revenge on those he had betrayed and vanquished, gave neither truce nor rest to the surviving ones of the sect. His hatred knew no bounds and it was to last as long as he lived. It was actually the very poor that had been sent to Shiraz, the rich had been kept back. Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan had entrusted them to a guard who was ordered to walk them through the city beating them as they went. The people of Nayriz were greatly entertained that time. They hung the Babi's by four nails and everyone came to gloat over their anguish. They placed burning weeds under the nails of these unfortunate martyrs, they branded them with hot irons, they deprived them of bread and water, they cut holes through their noses, and running through them a cord they led them as one would a bear!" (Ibid., p. 408.)]

Among them was a certain Siyyid Ja'far-i-Yazdi, who in former days had exercised immense influence and had been <p497> <p498> greatly honoured by the people. So great was the respect they owed him that Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan gave him precedence over himself and treated him with extreme deference and courtesy. He gave orders that the turban of that same man be befouled and flung into the fire. Shorn of the emblem of his lineage, he was exposed to the eyes or the public, who marched before him and overwhelmed him with abuse and ridicule.[1]

[1 "Aqa Siyyid Ja'far-i-Yazdi saw the executioners burn his turban and then they took him from door to door making him beg for money." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 408.)]

Another victim of their tyranny was Haji Muhammad-Taqi, who had enjoyed, in days past, such a reputation for honesty and justice that his opinion was invariably regarded by the judges of the court as the determining word in their judgment. So great and esteemed a man was, in the depth of winter, stripped of his clothes, thrown into a pond, and lashed severely. Siyyid Ja'far and Shaykh Abdu'l-'Ali, who <p499> was Vahid's father-in-law and the leading divine of Nayriz, as well as a judge of great reputation, together with Siyyid Husayn, one of the notables of the town, were doomed to suffer the same fate. While they were exposed to the cold, the scum of the people was hired to heap upon their shivering bodies abominable cruelties. Many a poor man, who hastened to obtain the reward promised for this vile deed, revolted when informed of the nature of the task he was called upon to perform, and, rejecting the money, turned away with loathing and contempt.[1]

[1 "Aqa Siyyid Abu-Talib, who was very wealthy, was bound with chains and sent by the governor of Nayriz to Ma'dan, and there poisoned by Haji Mirza Nasir, the same man who had ordered the Bab to kiss the hand of Shaykh Abu-Turab. Two Babi women, rather than be taken prisoners, threw themselves in a well and perished. Some Babi's, eager to see Mirza Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan punished, started for Tihran to protest to his Majesty against the atrocities which had been committed. They were but two or three stations away from the capital and, after the fatigue of the journey, were enjoying a little rest, when a caravan of Shirazi people went by and recognized them. They were all arrested except Zaynu'l-'Abidin who succeeded in reaching Tihran. The others were taken to Shiraz where the Prince immediately ordered them executed, and so these men, Karbila'i Abu'l-Hasan, a dealer in crockery, Aqa Shaykh Hadi, uncle of the wife of Vahid, Mirza Ali and Abu'l-Qasim-ibn-i-Haji-Zayna, Akbar-ibn-i-'Abid, Mirza Hasan and his brother Mirza Baba all died for their faith at this time. (Ibid., pp. 408-409.)]

The day of Vahid's martyrdom was the eighteenth of the month of Sha'ban, in the year 1266 A.H. Ten days later, the Bab was shot in Tabriz. <p500>