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The Dawn-Breakers (part 3)

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THE tale of the tragedy that marked the closing stages of the Nayriz upheaval spread over the length and breadth of Persia and kindled a startling enthusiasm in the hearts of those who heard it. It plunged the authorities of the capital into consternation and nerved them to a resolve of despair. The Amir-Nizam, the Grand Vazir of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, was particularly overawed by these recurrent manifestations of an indomitable will, of a fierce and inflexible tenacity of faith. Though the forces of the imperial army had everywhere triumphed, though the companions of Mulla Husayn and Vahid had successively been mowed down in a ruthless carnage at the hands of its officers, yet to the shrewd minds of the rulers of Tihran it was clear and evident that <p501> the spirit responsible for such rare heroism was by no means vanquished, that its might was far from broken. The loyalty which the remnants of that scattered band bore to their captive Leader still remained unimpaired. Nothing had as yet been successful, despite the appalling losses they had sustained, in sapping that loyalty or in undermining that faith. Far from being extinguished, that spirit had blazed more intense and devastating than ever. Galled by the memory of the indignities they had suffered, that persecuted band clung ever more passionately to its Faith and looked with increasing fervour and hope to its Leader.[1] Above all, He who had kindled that flame and nourished that spirit was still alive, and, despite His isolation, was able to exercise the full measure of His influence. Even a sleepless vigilance had been powerless to stem the tide that had swept over the entire face of the land, and which had as its motive force the continued existence of the Bab. Extinguish that light, choke the stream at its very source, and the torrent that had brought so much devastation in its wake would run dry. Such was the thought that swayed the Grand Vazir of Nasiri'd-Din Shah. To do Him to death seemed to that foolish minister the most efficacious means for the recovery of his country from the shame into which he thought it had sunk.[2]

[1 "It was only too well known that Babi's were to be found everywhere. Persia was full of them and, if the minds concerned about transcendental questions, if the philosophers in search of new formulas, if the bruised souls shocked by the injustices and weaknesses of the present day--had given themselves up eagerly to the thought and to the promises of a new and more satisfactory world order, one could properly think that the turbulent imaginations eager for action, even at the price of failure, the brave and militant hearts, and finally the daring and ambitious would easily be tempted to throw themselves in with an army which revealed itself so well supplied with soldiers fit to constitute dauntless battalions. "Mirza Taqi Khan, cursing the laxity with which his predecessor Haji Mirza Aqasi had allowed so great a peril to grow, realized that this weak policy should not continue and decided to destroy the evil to its very roots. He became convinced that the main cause was the Bab himself, father of all the doctrines which were arousing the people, and he decided to remove that cause." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 210-11.)

[2 "In the meantime, Haji Mirza Taqi resolved to strike at the very head of this monster of Babism and he imagined that, after such a blow which would definitely remove the instigator of that agitation and silence his appeal, the old order would be restored. Nevertheless, strange phenomenon in an Asiatic government, and especially in a statesmen like Mirza Taqi Khan who could indulge in excessive severity without scruple, this minister did not order the death of the reformer! He thought that the most effective way to destroy him was to ruin him morally; to bring him out of his retreat in Chihriq where a halo of suffering, holiness, science and eloquence made him radiate like a sun; to show him to the people just as he was--that is to say, just as he thought he was--was the best way to render him harmless by destroying his prestige. "He was picturing him as a vulgar charlatan, a weak dreamer who did not have courage enough to conceive, still less to direct the daring enterprises of his three apostles, or even to take part in them. Such a man, taken to Tihran and brought face to face with the most subtle dialecticians of Islam, could not but surrender shamefully. His influence would vanish the more rapidly than if while destroying his body, one allowed to linger in the minds of the people the phantom of a superiority which death would have consecrated. It was therefore decided to arrest him and bring him to Tihran and, on the way, to exhibit him publicly in chains and humiliated; to make him debate everywhere with the Mullas, silencing him whenever he would become too audacious; briefly, to engage him in a series of unequal encounters in which he would inevitably meet defeat, as he would have been previously demoralized and heartbroken. It was a lion that they were eager to unnerve, hold in chains and strip of claws and teeth, then turn him over to the dogs to show how easily they could overpower him. Once defeated, his ultimate fate was of little importance. "This plan was not devoid of sense, but it rested upon premises which were far from proven. It was not enough to imagine that the Bab was without courage and firmness, it was necessary that he be really so. But his conduct in the fort of Chihriq gave no such evidence. He prayed and worked unceasingly. His meekness was unfailing. Those who came near him felt in spite of themselves the fascinating influence of his personality, of his manner and of his speech. His guards were not free from that weakness. He (the Bab) felt that his death was near and he would frequently refer to it as to a thought that was not only familiar but even pleasant. Suppose, for a moment, that thus exhibited throughout Persia he would still remain undaunted? Suppose he would display neither arrogance nor fear but would rise far above his misfortune? Suppose that he succeeded in throwing into confusion the learned, subtle, and eloquent doctors arraigned against him? Suppose he would remain more than ever the Bab for his old followers and become so for the indifferent and even for his enemies? It was risking much in order to gain much, without doubt, but also perhaps to lose much and, after having weighed the matter with care, they dared not take the chance." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 211-213.)<p502>

Bestirred to action, he summoned his counsellors, shared with them his fears and his hopes, and acquainted them with the nature of his plans. "Behold," he exclaimed, "the storm which the Faith of the Siyyid-i-Bab has provoked in the hearts of my fellow-countrymen! Nothing short of his public execution can, to my mind, enable this distracted country to recover its tranquillity and peace. Who dare compute the forces that have perished in the course of the engagements at Shaykh Tabarsi? Who can estimate the efforts exerted to secure that victory? No sooner had the mischief that convulsed Mazindaran been suppressed, than the flames of another sedition blazed forth in the province of Fars, bringing in its wake so much suffering to my people. We had no sooner succeeded in quelling the revolt that had ravaged the south, than another insurrection breaks out in the north, sweeping in its vortex Zanjan and its surroundings. If you are able to advise a remedy, acquaint me with it, for my sole purpose is to ensure the peace and honour of my countrymen."

Not a single voice dared venture a reply, except that of Mirza Aqa Khani-i-Nuri, the Minister of War, who pleaded <p503> <p504> that to put to death a banished siyyid for the deeds committed by a band of irresponsible agitators would be an act of manifest cruelty. He recalled the example of the late Muhammad Shah, whose invariable practice it had been to disregard the base calumnies the enemies of that siyyid brought continually to his attention. The Amir-Nizam was sorely displeased. "Such considerations," he protested, "are wholly irrelevant to the issue with which we are faced. The interests of the State are in jeopardy, and we can in no wise tolerate these periodic upheavals. Was not the Imam Husayn, in view of the paramount necessity for safeguarding the unity of the State, executed by those same persons who had seen him more than once receive marks of exceptional affection from Muhammad, his Grandfather? Did they not in such circumstances refuse to consider the rights which his lineage had conferred upon him? Nothing short of the remedy I advocate can uproot this evil and bring us the peace for which we long."

Disregarding the advice of his counsellor, the Amir-Nizam despatched his orders to Navvab Hamzih Mirza, the governor of Adhirbayjan, who was distinguished among the princes of royal blood for his kind-heartedness and rectitude of conduct, to summon the Bab to Tabriz.[1] He was careful not to divulge to the prince his real purpose. The Navvab, assuming that the intention of the minister was to enable his Captive to return to His home, immediately directed one of his trusted officers, together with a mounted escort, to proceed to Chihriq, where the Bab still lay confined, and to bring Him back to Tabriz. He recommended Him to their care, urging them to exercise towards Him the utmost consideration.

Forty days before the arrival of that officer at Chihriq, the Bab collected all the documents and Tablets in His possession and, placing them, with His pen-case, His seals, and agate rings, in a coffer, entrusted them to the care of Mulla Baqir, one of the Letters of the Living. To him He also delivered a letter addressed to Mirza Ahmad, His amanuensis, <p505> in which He enclosed the key to that coffer. He urged him to take the utmost care of that trust, emphasised the sacredness of its character, and bade him conceal its contents from anyone except Mirza Ahmad.

[1 "The prime minister, having summoned Sulayman Khan, the Afshar, asked him to carry to Tabriz, to the Prince Hamzih Mirza, governor of Adhirbayjan, the order to take the Bab out of the fort of Chihriq and to imprison him in the citadel of Tabriz where he would later be apprised of his fate." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 213.)]

Mulla Baqir departed forthwith for Qazvin. Within eighteen days he reached that town and was informed that Mirza Ahmad had departed for Qum. He left immediately for that destination and arrived towards the middle of the month of Sha'ban.[1] I was then in Qum, together with a certain Sadiq-i-Tabrizi, whom Mirza Ahmad had sent to fetch me from Zarand. I was living in the same house with Mirza Ahmad, a house which he had hired in the Bagh-Panbih quarter. In those days Shaykh Azim, Siyyid Isma'il, and a number of other companions likewise were dwelling with us. Mulla Baqir delivered the trust into the hands of Mirza Ahmad, who, at the insistence of Shaykh Azim, opened it before us. We marvelled when we beheld, among the things which that coffer contained, a scroll of blue paper, of the most delicate texture, on which the Bab, in His own exquisite handwriting, which was a fine shikastih script, had penned, in the form of a pentacle, what numbered about five hundred verses, all consisting of derivatives from the word "Baha."[2] That scroll was in a state of perfect preservation, was spotlessly clean, and gave the impression, at first sight, of being a printed rather than a written page. So fine and intricate was the penmanship that, viewed at a distance, the writing appeared as a single wash of ink on the paper. We were overcome with admiration as we gazed upon a masterpiece which no calligraphist, we believed, could rival. That scroll was replaced in the coffer and handed back to Mirza Ahmad, who, on the very day he received it, proceeded to Tihran. Ere he departed, he informed us that all he could divulge of that letter was the injunction that the trust was to be delivered into the hands of Jinab-i-Baha[3] in Tihran.[4] <p506> As to me, I was instructed by Mirza Ahmad to proceed to Zarand and join my father, who anxiously awaited my return.

[1 June 12-July 11, 1850 A.D.]

[2 According to "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 42), the Bab had produced no less than three hundred and sixty derivatives from the word "Baha."]

[3 Title by which Baha'u'llah was designated in those days.]

[4 "The end of the Bab's earthly Manifestation is now close upon us. He knew it himself before the event, and was not displeased at the presentiment. He had already 'set his house in order,' as regards the spiritual affairs of the Babi community, which he had, if I mistake not, confided to the intuitive wisdom of Baha'u'llah.... It is impossible not to feel that this is far more probable than the view which makes Subh-i-Azal the custodian of the sacred writings and the arranger of a resting-place for the sacred remains. I much fear that the Azali's have manipulated tradition in the interest of their party." (Dr. T. K. Cheyne's "The Reconciliation of Races and Religions," pp. 65-6.)]

Faithful to the instructions he had received from Navvab Hamzih Mirza, that officer conducted the Bab to Tabriz and showed Him the utmost respect and consideration. The prince had instructed one of his friends to accommodate Him in his home and to treat Him with extreme deference. Three days after the Bab's arrival, a fresh order was received from the Grand Vazir, commanding the prince to carry out the execution of his Prisoner on the very day the farman [1] would reach him. Whoever would profess himself His follower was likewise to be condemned to death. The Armenian regiment of Urumiyyih, whose colonel was Sam Khan, was ordered to shoot Him, in the courtyard of the barracks of Tabriz, which were situated in the centre of the city.

[1 See Glossary.]

The prince expressed his consternation to the bearer of the farman, Mirza Hasan Khan, the Vazir-Nizam and brother of the Grand Vazir. "The Amir," he told him, "would do better to entrust me with services of greater merit than the one with which he has now commissioned me. The task I am called upon to perform is a task that only ignoble people would accept. I am neither Ibn-i-Ziyad nor Ibn-i-Sa'd [1] that he should call upon me to slay an innocent descendant of the Prophet of God." Mirza Hasan Khan reported these sayings of the prince to his brother, who thereupon ordered him to follow, himself, without delay and in their entirety, the instructions he had already given. "Relieve us," the Vazir urged his brother, "from this anxiety that weighs upon our hearts, and let this affair be brought to an end ere the month of Ramadan breaks upon us, that we may enter the period of fasting with undisturbed tranquillity." Mirza Hasan Khan attempted to acquaint the prince with these fresh instructions, but failed in his efforts, as the prince, pretending to be ill, refused to meet him. Undeterred by this refusal, he issued his instructions for the immediate transfer of the Bab and those in His company from the house <p507> in which He was staying to one of the rooms of the barracks. He, moreover, directed Sam Khan to despatch ten of his men to guard the entrance of the room in which He was to be confined.

[1 Persecutors of the descendants of Muhammad.]

Deprived of His turban and sash, the twin emblems of His noble lineage, the Bab, together with Siyyid Husayn, His amanuensis, was driven to yet another confinement which He well knew was but a step further on the way leading Him to the goal He had set Himself to attain. That day witnessed a tremendous commotion in the city of Tabriz. The great convulsion associated in the ideas of its inhabitants with the Day of Judgment seemed at last to have come upon them. Never had that city experienced a turmoil so fierce and so mysterious as the one which seized its inhabitants on the day the Bab was led to that place which was to be the scene of His martyrdom. As He approached the courtyard of the barracks, a youth suddenly leaped forward who, in his eagerness to overtake Him, had forced his way through the crowd, utterly ignoring the risks and perils which such an attempt might involve. His face was haggard, his feet were bare, and his hair dishevelled. Breathless with excitement and exhausted with fatigue, he flung himself at the feet of the Bab and, seizing the hem of His garment, passionately implored Him: "Send me not from Thee, O Master. Wherever Thou goest, suffer me to follow Thee." "Muhammad-'Ali," answered the Bab, "arise, and rest assured that you will be with Me.[1] To-morrow you shall witness what God has decreed." Two other companions, unable to contain themselves, rushed forward and assured Him of their unalterable loyalty. These, together with Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Zunuzi, were seized and placed in the same cell in which the Bab and Siyyid Husayn were confined.

[1 "It is no doubt a singular coincidence that both Ali-Muhammad and Jesus Christ are reported to have addressed these words to a disciple: 'To-day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.'" (Dr. T. K. Cheyne's "The Reconciliation of Races and Religions," p. 185.)]

I have heard Siyyid Husayn bear witness to the following: "That night the face of the Bab was aglow with joy, a joy such as had never shone from His countenance. Indifferent to the storm that raged about Him, He conversed with us with gaiety and cheerfulness. The sorrows that had weighed <p508> so heavily upon Him seemed to have completely vanished. Their weight appeared to have dissolved in the consciousness of approaching victory. 'To-morrow,' He said to us, 'will be the day of My martyrdom. Would that one of you might now arise and, with his own hands, end My life. I prefer to be slain by the hand of a friend rather than by that of the enemy.' Tears rained from our eyes as we heard Him express that wish. We shrank, however, at the thought of taking away with our own hands so precious a life. We refused, and remained silent. Mirza Muhammad-'Ali suddenly sprang to his feet and announced himself ready to obey whatever the Bab might desire. This same youth who has risen to comply with My wish,' the Bab declared, as soon as we had intervened and forced him to abandon that thought, 'will, together with Me, suffer martyrdom. Him will I choose to share with Me its crown.'"

Early in the morning, Mirza Hasan Khan ordered his farrash-bashi [1] to conduct the Bab into the presence of the leading mujtahids of the city and to obtain from them the authorisation required for His execution.[2] As the Bab was leaving the barracks, Siyyid Husayn asked Him what he should do. "Confess not your faith," He advised him. "Thereby you will be enabled, when the hour comes, to convey to those who are destined to hear you, the things of which you alone are aware." He was engaged in a confidential conversation with him when the farrash-bashi suddenly <p509> interrupted and, holding Siyyid Husayn by the hand, drew him aside and severely rebuked him. "Not until I have said to him all those things that I wish to say," the Bab warned the farrash-bashi, "can any earthly power silence Me. Though all the world be armed against Me, yet shall they be powerless to deter Me from fulfilling, to the last word, My intention." The farrash-bashi was amazed at such a bold assertion. He made, however, no reply, and bade Siyyid Husayn arise and follow him.

[1 See Glossary.]

[2 "On the following day, early in the morning, the people of Hamzih Mirza, having opened the doors of the prison, brought out the Bab and his disciples. They made sure that the irons which they had around their necks and on their wrists were secure; they tied to the iron collar of each one a long cord the end of which was held by a farrash. Then, so that everyone could see them well and recognize them, they walked them about the town, through the streets and the bazaars, overwhelming them with blows and insults. The crowd filled the streets and the people climbed upon each others' shoulders better to see this man who was so much talked about. The Babi's, scattered in all directions, were trying to arouse among some of the onlookers a little pity or some feeling of sympathy which might have helped them to save their Master. The indifferent ones, the philosophers, the Shaykhis, the Sufis, turned away from the sight with disgust and returned to their houses, or on the contrary waited for the Bab at a street corner and simply watched him with silent curiosity. The tattered crowd, restless and excitable, flung insulting words at the three martyrs, but they were all ready to change their minds with any sudden change of circumstances. "Finally, the victorious Muhammadans pursued the prisoners with insults, tried to break through the guard in order to strike them in the face or on the head and when they succeeded, or when a missile thrown by some child would strike the Bab or one of his companions in the face, the guard and the crowd would burst into laughter." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 220.)]

When Mirza Muhammad-'Ali was ushered into the presence of the mujtahids, he was repeatedly urged, in view of the position which his stepfather, Siyyid Aliy-i-Zunuzi, occupied, to recant his faith. "Never," he exclaimed, "will I renounce my Master. He is the essence of my faith, and the object of my truest adoration. In Him I have found my paradise, and in the observance of His law I recognize the ark of my salvation." "Hold your peace!" thundered Mulla Muhammad-i-Mamaqani, before whom that youth was brought. "Such words betray your madness; I can well excuse the words for which you are not responsible." "I am not mad," he retorted. "Such a charge should rather be brought against you who have sentenced to death a man no less holy than the promised Qa'im. He is not a fool who <p510> has embraced His Faith and is longing to shed his blood in His path.

The Bab was, in His turn, brought before Mulla Muhammad-i-Mamaqani. No sooner had he recognized Him than he seized the death-warrant he himself had previously written and, handing it to his attendant, bade him deliver it to the farrash-bashi. "No need," he cried, "to bring the Siyyid-i-Bab into my presence. This death-warrant I penned the very day I met him at the gathering presided over by the Vali-'Ahd. He surely is the same man whom I saw on that occasion, and has not, in the meantime, surrendered any of his claims."

From thence the Bab was conducted to the house of Mirza Baqir, the son of Mirza Ahmad, to whom he had recently succeeded. When they arrived, they found his attendant standing at the gate and holding in his hand the Bab's death-warrant. "No need to enter," he told them. "My master is already satisfied that his father was right in pronouncing the sentence of death. He can do no better than follow his example."

Mulla Murtada-Quli, following in the footsteps of the other two mujtahids, had previously issued his own written testimony and refused to meet face to face his dreaded opponent. No sooner had the farrash-bashi secured the necessary documents than he delivered his Captive into the hands of Sam Khan, assuring him that he could proceed with his task now that he had obtained the sanction of the civil and ecclesiastical authorities of the realm.

Siyyid Husayn had remained confined in the same room in which he had spent the previous night with the Bab. They were proceeding to place Mirza Muhammad-'Ali in that same room, when he burst forth into tears and entreated them to allow him to remain with his Master. He was delivered into the hands of Sam Khan, who was ordered to execute him also, if he persisted in his refusal to deny his Faith.

Sam Khan was, in the meantime, finding himself increasingly affected by the behaviour of his Captive and the treatment that had been meted out to Him. He was seized with great fear lest his action should bring upon him the <p511> [Illustration: THE BARRACK-SQUARE IN TABRIZ, WHERE THE BAB SUFFERED MARTYRDOM. PILLAR ON THE RIGHT MARKED X IS THE PLACE WHERE HE WAS SUSPENDED AND SHOT] <p512> wrath of God. "I profess the Christian Faith," he explained to the Bab, "and entertain no ill will against you. If your Cause be the Cause of Truth, enable me to free myself from the obligation to shed your blood." "Follow your instructions," the Bab replied, "and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you from your perplexity."

Sam Khan ordered his men to drive a nail into the pillar that lay between the door of the room that Siyyid Husayn occupied and the entrance to the adjoining one, and to make fast two ropes to that nail, from which the Bab and His companion were to be separately suspended.[1] Mirza Muhammad-'Ali begged Sam Khan to be placed in such a manner that his own body would shield that of the Bab.[2] He was eventually suspended in such a position that his head reposed on the breast of his Master. As soon as they were fastened, a regiment of soldiers ranged itself in three files, each of two hundred and fifty men, each of which was ordered to open fire in its turn until the whole detachment had discharged the volleys of its bullets.[3] The smoke of the firing of the seven hundred and fifty rifles was such as to turn the light of the noonday sun into darkness. There had crowded onto <p513> the roof of the barracks, as well as the tops of the adjoining houses, about ten thousand people, all of whom were witnesses to that sad and moving scene.

[1 "The Bab remained silent. His pale handsome face framed by a black beard and small mustache, his appearance and his refined manners, his white and delicate hands, his simple but very neat garments--everything about him awakened sympathy and compassion." (Journal Asiatique, 1866. tome 7, p. 378.)]

[2 "Proof of the devotion and steadfastness of this noble man is afforded by a letter in his own blessed writing which was in the possession of his brother Mulla Abdu'llah, who still lives in Tabriz. This letter he wrote from the prison, three days or two days before his martyrdom, in reply to his brother, who had written to him counselling him to turn aside from his devotion and thraldom; and therein he makes his apology. And since the martyr was the younger of the two brethren, therefore he adopts a respectful tone in his letter. The text of this letter of reply is as follows: 'He is the Compassionate. O my Qiblih! Thanks be to God, I have no fault to find with my circumstances, and "to every travail rest succeeds." As to what you wrote, that this matter hath no end, what matter, then, hath an end? We, at least, have no discontent therein; being, indeed, unable sufficiently to express our gratitude for this blessing. At most we can but be slain for God's sake, and, oh, what happiness were this! The Lord's will must be accomplished through His servants, neither can prudence avert predestined fate. What God wills comes to pass: there is no strength save in God. O my Qiblih! The end of the life of the world is death: "every soul shall taste of death." If the appointed destiny which the Lord (mighty and glorious is He) hath decreed should overtake me, then God is the guardian of my family, and thou art my trustee; act in such wise as accords with God's good pleasure. Forgive any failure in the respect or duty owed to an elder brother of which I may have been guilty, seek pardon for me from all those of my household, and commend me to God. God is my portion, and how good is He as a guardian!'" (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 301-3.)][3 "When the condemned are shot in Persia, they are bound to a post looking away from the spectators so that they are not able to see the signals for execution given by the officer." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 377.)]

As soon as the cloud of smoke had cleared away, an astounded multitude were looking upon a scene which their eyes could scarcely believe. There, standing before them alive and unhurt, was the companion of the Bab, whilst He Himself had vanished uninjured from their sight. Though the cords with which they were suspended had been rent in pieces by the bullets, yet their bodies had miraculously escaped the volleys.[1] Even the tunic which Mirza Muhammad-'Ali was wearing had, despite the thickness of the smoke, remained unsullied. "The Siyyid-i-Bab has gone from our sight!" rang out the voices of the bewildered multitude. They set out in a frenzied search for Him, and found Him, eventually, seated in the same room which He had occupied the night before, engaged in completing His interrupted conversation, with Siyyid Husayn. An expression of unruffled calm was upon His face. His body had emerged unscathed from the shower of bullets which the regiment had directed against Him. "I have finished My conversation with Siyyid Husayn," the Bab told the farrash-bashi. "Now you may proceed to fulfil your intention." The man was too much shaken to resume what he had already attempted. Refusing to accomplish his duty, he, that same moment, left that scene and resigned his post. He related all that he had seen to <p514> his neighbour, Mirza Siyyid Muhsin, one of the notables of Tabriz, who, as soon as he heard the story, was converted to the Faith.

[1 "An intense clamor arose from the crowd at this moment as the onlookers saw the Bab freed from his bonds advancing towards them. Amazing to believe, the bullets had not struck the condemned but, on the contrary, had broken his bonds and he was delivered. It was a real miracle and God alone knows what would have happened without the fidelity and calm of the Christian regiment on this occurrence. The soldiers in order to quiet the excitement of the crowd which, being extremely agitated, was ready to believe the claims of a religion which thus demonstrated its truth, showed the cords broken by the bullets, implying that no miracle had really taken place. At the same time, they seized the Bab and tied him again to the fatal post. This time the execution was effective. Muhammadan justice and ecclesiastical law had asserted themselves. But the crowd, vividly impressed by the spectacle they had witnessed, dispersed slowly, hardly convinced that the Bab was a criminal. After all his crime was only a crime for the legalists and the world is indulgent toward crimes which it does not understand." (M.C. Huart's "La Religion du Bab," pp. 3-4.) "An extraordinary thing happened, unique in the annals of the history of humanity: the bullets cut the cords that held the Bab and he fell on his feet without a scratch." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 375.) "By a strange coincidence, the bullet only touched the cords which bound the Bab, they were broken and he felt himself free. Uproar and shouts arose on all sides, no one understanding at first what it was all about." (Ibid., p. 379.)]

I was privileged to meet, subsequently, this same Mirza Siyyid Muhsin, who conducted me to the scene of the Bab's martyrdom and showed me the wall where He had been suspended. I was taken to the room in which He had been found conversing with Siyyid Husayn, and was shown the very spot where He had been seated. I saw the very nail which His enemies had hammered into the wall and to which the rope which had supported His body had been attached.

Sam Khan was likewise stunned by the force of this tremendous revelation. He ordered his men to leave the barracks immediately, and refused ever again to associate himself and his regiment with any act that involved the least injury to the Bab. He swore, as he left that courtyard, never again to resume that task even though his refusal should entail the loss of his own life.

No sooner had Sam Khan departed than Aqa Jan Khan-i-Khamsih, colonel of the body-guard, known also by the names of Khamsih and Nasiri, volunteered to carry out the order for execution. On the same wall and in the same manner, the Bab and His companion were again suspended, while the regiment formed in line to open fire upon them. Contrariwise to the previous occasion, when only the cord with which they were suspended had been shot into pieces, this time their bodies were shattered and were blended into one mass of mingled flesh and bone.[1] "Had you believed in Me, O wayward generation," were the last words of the Bab to the gazing multitude as the regiment was preparing to fire the final volley, "every one of you would have followed the example of this youth, who stood in rank above most of you, and willingly would have sacrificed himself in My path. The day will come when you will have recognized Me; that day I shall have ceased to be with you."[2]

[1 According to "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 45), "the breasts [of the victims] were riddled and their limbs were completely dissected, except their faces, which were but little marred."]

[2 "Praise be to God who manifested the Point [the Bab] and caused to proceed therefrom the knowledge of all that was and shall be.... He is that Point which God hath made to be an Ocean of light unto the faithful among His servants, and a Ball of Fire unto the deniers among His creatures and the impious among His people." (Baha'u'llah, the "Ishraqat," p. 3.) "In His interpretation of the letter 'Ha,' He craved martyrdom, saying: 'Methinks I heard a voice calling in My inmost being: "Do Thou sacrifice the thing which Thou lovest most in the path of God, even as Husayn, peace be upon him, hath offered up his life for My sake." And were I not regardful of this inevitable mystery, by Him in whose hand is My soul, even if all the kings of the earth were to be leagued together, they would be powerless to take from Me a single letter; how much less can such servants as these, who are worthy of no attention, and who verily are of the outcast? that all may know the degree of My patience, My resignation and self-sacrifice in the path of God.'" (Idem, the "Kitab-i-Iqan," p. 195.) "The Bab, the Lord most high, may the life of all be a sacrifice unto Him, hath specifically revealed an Epistle unto the ulamas of every city, wherein He hath fully set forth the character of the denial and repudiation of each of them. Wherefore, take ye good heed, ye who are men of insight!" (Ibid., p. 193.) "This illustrious Soul arose with such power that He shook the supports of the religion, of the morals, the conditions, the habits and the customs of Persia, and instituted new rules, new laws, and a new religion. Though the great personages of the State, nearly all the clergy, and the public men, arose to destroy and annihilate Him, He alone withstood them, and moved the whole of Persia.... He imparted Divine education to an unenlightened multitude and produced marvellous results on the thoughts, morals, customs, and conditions of the Persians." (Abdu'l-Baha, "Some Answered Questions," pp. 30-31.) "Christians believe that if Jesus Christ had wished to come down from the cross he could have done so easily; he died of his own free will because it was written that he should and in order that the prophecies might be fulfilled. The same is true of the Bab, so the Babi's say, who, in this way, gave a clear sanction to his teachings. He likewise died voluntarily because his death was to be the salvation of humanity. Who will ever tell us the words that the Bab uttered in the midst of the unprecedented turmoil which broke out as he ascended? Who will ever know the memories which stirred his noble soul? Who will reveal to us the secret of that death.... The sight of the baseness, the vices, the deceptions of that clergy shocked his pure and sincere soul: he felt the need of a thorough reform in public morals and he undoubtedly hesitated more than once, at the thought of a revolution, which seemed unavoidable, to free the bodies as well as the minds from the yoke of brutishness and violence which weighed upon all Persia for the selfish benefit of a minority ... of pleasure lovers, and to the greatest shame of the true religion of the Prophet. He must have been much perplexed, deeply anxious, and he stood in need of the triple shield of which Horace speaks, to throw himself headlong into that ocean of superstition and hatred which was fatally to engulf him. His life is one of the most magnificent examples of courage which it has been the privilege of mankind to behold, and it is also an admirable proof of the love which our hero felt for his fellow countrymen. He sacrificed himself for humanity, for it he gave his body and his soul, for it he endured privations, insults, torture and martyrdom. He sealed, with his very lifeblood, the covenant of universal brotherhood. Like Jesus he paid with his life for the proclamation of a reign of concord, equity and brotherly love. More than anyone he knew what dreadful dangers he was heaping upon himself. He had been able to see personally the degree of exasperation that a fanaticism, shrewdly aroused, could reach; but all these considerations could not weaken his resolve. Fear had no hold upon his soul and, perfectly calm, never looking back, in full possession of all his powers, he walked into the furnace." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad, dit le Bab," pp. 203-204, 376.) "The head of the new religion was dead and, according to the provisions of the prime minister, the minds of the people would now be at peace and there was no room for further anxiety, at least from that source. But such political wisdom was baffled and, instead of appeasing the flames, it had fanned them into greater violence." "We shall see shortly, when I shall examine the religious dogmas preached by the Bab, that the perpetuity of the sect did not in the least depend upon his physical presence; all could proceed and grow without him. If the premier had been aware of this fundamental trait of the hostile religion, it is not likely that he would have been so eager to do away with a man whose existence, after all, would not have had any more significance than his death." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 224-225.) Such a prophet," writes the Rev. Dr. T. K. Cheyne, "was the Bab; we call him 'prophet' for want of a better name, 'yea, I say unto you, a prophet and more than a prophet.' His combination of mildness and power is so rare that we have to place him in a line with super-normal men.... We learn that at great points in his career, after he had been in an ecstasy, such radiance of might and majesty streamed from his countenance that none could bear to look upon the effulgence of his glory and beauty. Nor was it an uncommon occurrence for unbelievers involuntarily to bow down in lowly obeisance on beholding His Holiness-- while the inmates of the castle though for the most part Christians and Sunnis, reverently prostrated themselves whenever they saw the visage of His Holiness. Such transfiguration is well known to the saints. It was regarded as the affixing of the heavenly seal to the reality and completeness of [the] Bab's detachment." ("The Reconciliation of Races and Religions," pp. 8-9.) "Who can fail to be attracted by the gentle spirit of Mirza Ali-Muhammad? His sorrowful and persecuted life; his purity of conduct, and youth; his courage and uncomplaining patience under misfortune; his complete self-negation; the dim ideal of a better state of things which can be discerned through the obscure and mystic utterances of the Bayan; but most of all his tragic death, all serve to enlist our sympathies on behalf of the young Prophet of Shiraz. The irresistible charm which won him such devotion during his life still lives on, and still continues to influence the minds of the Persian people." (E. G. Browne's art. "The Babi's of Persia," Journal of J. R. A. S., 1889, p. 933.) "Few believe that by these sanguinary measures the doctrines of [the] Bab will cease from propagation. There is a spirit of change abroad among the Persians, which will preserve his system from extinction; besides which, his doctrines are of an attractive nature to Persians. Though now subdued, and obliged to lurk concealed in towns, it is conjectured that the creed of [the] Bab, far from diminishing, is daily spreading." Lady Sheil's "Glimpses of Life and Manners in Persia," p. 181.) "The story of the Bab, as Mirza Ali-Muhammad called himself, was the story of spiritual heroism unsurpassed in Svabhava's experience; and his own adventurous soul was fired by it. That a youth of no social influence and no education should, by the simple power of insight, be able to pierce into the heart of things and see the real truth, and then hold on to it with such firmness of conviction and present it with such suasion that he was able to convince men that he was the Messiah and get them to follow him to death itself, was one of those splendid facts in human history that Svabhava loved to meditate on... The Bab's passionate sincerity could not be doubted, for he had given his life for his faith. And that there must be something in his message that appealed to men and satisfied their souls was witnessed to by the fact that thousands gave their lives in his cause and millions now follow him. If a young man could, in only six years of ministry, by the sincerity of his purpose and the attraction of his personality, so inspire rich and poor, cultured and illiterate, alike, with belief in himself and his doctrines that they would remain staunch though hunted down and without trial sentenced to death, sawn asunder, strangled, shot, blown from guns; and if men of high position and culture in Persia, Turkey and Egypt in numbers to this day adhere to his doctrines, his life must be one of those events in the last hundred years which is really worth study." (Sir Francis Younghusband's "The Gleam," pp. 183-4.) "Thus, in only his thirtieth year, in the year 1850, ended the heroic career of a true God-man. Of the sincerity of his conviction that he was God-appointed, the manner of his death is the amplest possible proof. In the belief that he would thereby save others from the error of their present beliefs he willingly sacrificed his life. And of his power of attaching men to him the passionate devotion of hundreds and even thousands of men who gave their lives in his cause is convincing testimony." (Ibid., p. 210.) "The Bab was dead, but not Babism. He was not the first, and still less the last, of a long line of martyrs who have testified that even in a country gangrened with corruption and atrophied with indifferentism like Persia, the soul of a nation survives, inarticulate perhaps, and in a way helpless, but still capable of sudden spasms of vitality." (Valentine Chirol's "The Middle Eastern Question," p. 120.)] <p515>

The very moment the shots were fired, a gale of exceptional severity arose and swept over the whole city. A whirlwind of dust of incredible density obscured the light of the sun and blinded the eyes of the people. The entire city remained enveloped in that darkness from noon till night. Even so strange a phenomenon, following immediately in the wake of that still more astounding failure of Sam Khan's regiment to injure the Bab, was unable to move <p516> the hearts of the people of Tabriz, and to induce them to pause and reflect upon the significance of such momentous events. They witnessed the effect which so marvellous an occurrence had produced upon Sam Khan; they beheld the consternation of the farrash-bashi and saw him make his irrevocable decision; they could even examine that tunic which, despite the discharge of so many bullets, had remained whole and stainless; they could read in the face of <p517> the Bab, who had emerged unhurt from that storm, the expression of undisturbed serenity as He resumed His conversation with Siyyid Husayn; and yet none of them troubled himself to enquire as to the significance of these unwonted signs and wonders.

The martyrdom of the Bab took place at noon on Sunday, the twenty-eighth of Sha'ban, in the year 1266 A.H.,[1] thirty-one lunar years, seven months, and twenty-seven days from the day of His birth in Shiraz.

[1 July 9, 1850 A.D.]

On the evening of that same day, the mangled bodies of the Bab and His companion were removed from the courtyard <p518> of the barracks to the edge of the moat outside the gate of the city. Four companies, each consisting of ten sentinels, were ordered to keep watch in turn over them. On the morning following the day of martyrdom, the Russian consul in Tabriz, accompanied by an artist, went to that spot and ordered that a sketch be made of the remains as they lay beside the moat.[1]

[1 "'The Emperor of Russia,' he [Haji Mirza Jani] says, 'sent to the Russian consul at Tabriz, bidding him fully investigate and report the circumstances of His Holiness the Bab. As Soon as this news arrived, they, i.e. the Persian authorities, put the Bab to death. The Russian consul summoned Aqa Siyyid Muhammad-i-Husayn, the Bab's amanuensis, who was imprisoned at Tabriz, into his presence, and enquired concerning the signs and circumstances of His Holiness. Aqa Siyyid Husayn, because there were Musulmans present, dared not speak plainly about his Master, but managed by means of hints to communicate sundry matters, and also gave him [the Russian consul] certain of the Bab's writings.' That this statement is, in part at least, true is proved by the testimony of Dorn, who, in describing a M.S. of one of the Bab's 'Commentaries on the Names of God' (which he calls 'Qur'an der Babi') says, on p. 248 of vol. 8 of the Bulletin de l'Academie Imperiale des Sciences de St. Petersbourg, that it was 'received directly from the Bab's own secretary, who, during his imprisonment at Tabriz, placed it in European hands.'" (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 395-6.)]

I have heard Haji Ali-'Askar relate the following: "An official of the Russian consulate, to whom I was related, showed me that same sketch on the very day it was drawn. It was such a faithful portrait of the Bab that I looked upon! No bullet had struck His forehead, His cheeks, or His lips. I gazed upon a smile which seemed to be still lingering upon His countenance. His body, however, had been severely mutilated. I could recognize the arms and head of His companion, who seemed to be holding Him in his embrace. As I gazed horror-struck upon that haunting picture, and saw how those noble traits had been disfigured, my heart sank within me. I turned away my face in anguish and, regaining my house, locked myself with my room. For three days and three nights, I could neither sleep nor eat, so overwhelmed was I with emotion. That short and tumultuous life, with all its sorrows, its turmoils, its banishments, and eventually the awe-inspiring martyrdom with which it had been crowned, seemed again to be re-enacted before my eyes. I tossed upon my bed, writhing in agony and pain."

On the afternoon of the second day after the Bab's martyrdom, Haji Sulayman Khan, son of Yahya Khan, arrived at Bagh-Mishih, a suburb of Tabriz, and was received at the house of the Kalantar,[1] one of his friends and confidants, <p519> who was a dervish and belonged to the sufi community. As soon as he had been informed of the imminent danger that threatened the life of the Bab, Haji Sulayman Khan had left Tihran with the object of achieving His deliverance. To his dismay, he arrived too late to carry out his intention. No sooner had his host informed him of the circumstances that had led to the arrest and condemnation of the Bab, and related to him the events of His martyrdom, than he instantly resolved to carry away the bodies of the victims, even at the risk of endangering his own life. The Kalantar advised him to wait and follow his suggestion rather than expose himself to what seemed to him would be inevitable death. He urged him to transfer his residence to another house and to wait for the arrival, that evening, of a certain Haji Allah-Yar, who, he said, would be willing to carry out whatever he might wish him to do. At the appointed hour, Haji Sulayman Khan met Haji Allah-Yar, who succeeded, in the middle of that same night, in bearing the bodies from the edge of the moat to the silk factory owned by one of the believers of Milan; laid them, the next day, in a specially constructed wooden case, and transferred them, according to Haji Sulayman Khan's directions, to a place of safety. Meanwhile the sentinels sought to justify themselves by pretending that, while they slept, wild beasts had carried away the bodies.[2] Their superiors, on their part, unwilling to compromise their own honour, concealed the truth and did not divulge it to the authorities.[3]

[1 See Glossary.]

[2 "Following an immemorial custom of the Orient, usage exemplified at the siege of Bethulie as well as at the tomb of our Lord, the sentinel is a soldier who sleeps, to his heart's content, at the post which he is expected to guard." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 166.) "We have been able to see throughout this history what the Persian guards are; their functions consist principally in sleeping by the trust that they are given to watch over." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 378.)]

[3 "M. de Gobineau, in agreement with the authors of the Nasikhu't-Tavarikh, of Rawdatu's-Safa, of Mir'atu'l-Buldan, in a word with all the official historians, relates that after the execution the body of the Bab was thrown in a moat of the city and devoured by dogs. In reality it was not so, and we shall see why this news had been spread by the authorities of Tabriz (little eager to draw upon themselves a rebuke of the government for a favor dearly sold) and by the Babi's, desirous to prevent any further investigation by the police. The most reliable testimony of the actual witnesses of the drama or of its actors do not leave me any doubt that the body of Siyyid Ali-Muhammad was carried away by pious hands and, at last, after various incidents which I shall narrate, received a burial worthy of him." (Ibid., p. 377.)]

Haji Sulayman Khan immediately reported the matter <p520> to Baha'u'llah, who was then in Tihran and who instructed Aqay-i-Kalim to despatch a special messenger to Tabriz for the purpose of transferring the bodies to the capital. This decision was prompted by the wish the Bab Himself had expressed <p521> in the "Ziyarat-i-Shah-'Abdu'l-'Azim," a Tablet He had revealed while in the neighbourhood of that shrine and which He delivered to a certain Mirza Sulayman-i-Khatib, who was instructed by Him to proceed together with a number of believers to that spot and to chant it within its precincts.[1] "Well is it with you," the Bab addressed the buried saint in words such as these, in the concluding passages of that Tablet, "to have found your resting place in Rayy, under the shadow of My Beloved. Would that I might be entombed within the precincts of that holy ground!"

[1 "Tihran is thus endowed in respect of the mausoleum and sanctuary of Shah Zadih Abdu'l-'Azim. Reposing beneath a golden-plated dome, whose scintillations I had seen from afar while riding towards the city, the remains of this holy individual are said to attract an annual visitation of 300 thousand persons. I find that most writers discreetly veil their ignorance of the identity of the saint by describing him as 'a holy Musulman, whose shrine is much frequented by the pious Tihranis.' It appears, however, that long before the advent of Islam this had been a sacred spot, as the sepulchre of a lady of great sanctity, in which connection it may be noted that the shrine is still largely patronised by women. Here, after the Musulman conquest, was interred Imam-Zadih Hamzih, the son of the seventh Imam, Musa-Kazim; and here, flying from the Khalif Mutavakkil, came a holy personage named Abu'l-Qasim Abdu'l-'Azim, who lived in concealment at Rayy till his death in about 861 A.D. (This is the account given by the Persian Kitab-i-Majlisi, quoting Shaykh Najashi, quoting Barki.) Subsequently his fame obscured that of his more illustrious predecessor. Successive sovereigns, particularly those of the reigning dynasty, have extended and beautified the cluster of buildings raised above his grave, the ever-swelling popularity of which has caused a considerable village to spring up around the hallowed site. The mosque is situated in the plain, about six miles to the south-southeast of the capital, just beyond the ruins of Rayy, and at the extremity of the mountain-spur that encloses the Tihran plain the southeast." (Lord Curzon's "Persia and the Persian Question," pp. 345-7.)]

I was myself in Tihran, in the company of Mirza Ahmad, when the bodies of the Bab and His companion arrived. Baha'u'llah had in the meantime departed for Karbila, in pursuance of the instructions of the Amir-Nizam. Aqay-i-Kalim, together with Mirza Ahmad, transferred those remains from the Imam-Zadih-Hasan,[1] where they were first taken, to a place the site of which remained unknown to anyone excepting themselves. That place remained secret until the departure of Baha'u'llah for Adrianople, at which time Aqay-i-Kalim was charged to inform Munir, one of his fellow-disciples, of the actual site where the bodies had been laid. In spite of his search, he was unable to find it. It was subsequently discovered by Jamal, an old adherent of the Faith, to whom that secret was confided while Baha'u'llah <p522> was still in Adrianople. That spot is, until now, unknown to the believers, nor can anyone conjecture where the remains will eventually be transferred.

[1 A local shrine in Tihran.]

The first in Tihran to hear of the circumstances attending that cruel martyrdom, after the Grand Vazir, was Mirza Aqa Khan-i-Nuri, who had been banished to Kashan by Muhammad Shah when the Bab was passing through that city. He had assured Haji Mirza Jani, who had acquainted him with the precepts of the Faith, that if the love he bore for the new Revelation would cause him to regain his lost position, he would exert his utmost endeavour to secure the well-being and safety of the persecuted community. Haji Mirza Jani reported the matter to his Master, who charged him to assure the disgraced minister that ere long he would be summoned to Tihran and would be invested, by his sovereign, with a position that would be second to none except that of the Shah himself. He was warned not to forget his promise, and to strive to carry out his intention. He was delighted with that message, and renewed the assurance he had given.

When the news of the Bab's martyrdom reached him, he had already been promoted, had received the title of I'timadu'd-Dawlih, and was hoping to be raised to the position of Grand Vazir. He hastened to inform Baha'u'llah, with whom he was intimately acquainted, of the news he had received, expressing the hope that the fire he feared would one day bring untold calamity upon Him, was at last extinguished. "Not so," Baha'u'llah replied. "If this be true, you can be certain that the flame that has been kindled will, by this very act, blaze forth more fiercely than ever, and will set up a conflagration such as the combined forces of the statesmen of this realm will be powerless to quench." The significance of these words Mirza Aqa Khan was destined to appreciate at a later time. Scarcely did he imagine, when that prediction was uttered, that the Faith which had received so staggering a blow could survive its Author. He himself had, on one occasion, been cured by Baha'u'llah of an illness from which he had given up all hope of recovery.

His son, the Nizamu'l-Mulk, one day asked him whether he did not think that Baha'u'llah, who, of all the sons of the late Vazir, had shown Himself the most capable, had failed <p523> to live up to the tradition of His father and had disappointed the hopes that had been reposed in Him. "My son," he replied, "do you really believe him to be an unworthy son of his father? All that either of us can hope to achieve is but a fleeting and precarious allegiance which will vanish as soon as our days are ended. Our mortal life can never be free from the vicissitudes that beset the path of earthly ambition. Should we even succeed in ensuring, in our lifetime, the honour of our name, who can tell whether, after our death, calumny may not stain our memory and undo the work we have achieved? Even those who, while we are still living, honour us with their lips would, in their hearts, condemn and vilify us were we, for but one moment, to fail to promote their interests. Not so, however, with Baha'u'llah. Unlike the great ones of the earth, whatever be their race or rank, he is the object of a love and devotion such as time cannot dim nor enemy destroy. His sovereignty the shadows of death can never obscure nor the tongue of the slanderer undermine. Such is the sway of his influence that no among his loves dare, in the stillness of night, evoke the memory of the faintest desire that could, even remotely, be construed as contrary to his wish. Such lovers will greatly increase in number. The love they bear him will never grow less, and will be transmitted from generation to generation until the world shall have been suffused with its glory."

The malicious persistence with which a savage enemy sought to ill-treat and eventually to destroy the life of the Bab brought in its wake untold calamities upon Persia and its inhabitants. The men who perpetrated these atrocities fell victims to gnawing remorse, and in an incredibly short period were made to suffer ignominious deaths. As to the great mass of its people, who watched with sullen indifference the tragedy that was being enacted before their eyes, and who failed to raise a finger in protest against the hideousness of those cruelties, they fell, in their turn, victims to a misery which all the resources of the land and the energy of its statesmen were powerless to alleviate. The wind of adversity blew fiercely upon them, and shook to its foundations their material prosperity. From the very day the hand of the assailant was stretched forth against the Bab, and sought to <p524> deal its fatal blow, to His Faith, visitation upon visitation crushed the spirit out of that ungrateful people, and brought them to the very brink of national bankruptcy. Plagues, the very names of which were almost unknown to them except for a cursory reference in the dust-covered books which few cared to read, fell upon them with a fury that none could escape. That scourge scattered devastation wherever it spread. Prince and peasant alike felt its sting and bowed to its yoke. It held the populace in its grip, and refused to relax its hold upon them. As malignant as the fever which decimated the province of Gilan, these sudden afflictions continued to lay waste the land. Grievous as were these calamities, the avenging wrath of God did not stop at the misfortunes that befell a perverse and faithless people. It made itself felt in every living being that breathed on the surface of that stricken land. It affected the life of plants and animals alike, and made the people feel the magnitude of their distress. Famine added its horrors to the stupendous weight of afflictions under which the people were groaning. The gaunt spectre of starvation stalked abroad amidst them, and the prospect of a slow and painful death haunted their vision. People and government alike sighed for the relief which they could nowhere obtain. They drank the cup of woe to its dregs, utterly unregardful of the hand which had brought it to their lips, and of the Person for whose sake they were made to suffer.

The first who arose to ill-treat the Bab was none other than Husayn Khan, the governor of Shiraz. His disgraceful treatment of his Captive cost him the lives of thousands who had been committed to his protection and who connived at his acts. His province was ravaged by a plague which brought it to the verge of destruction. Impoverished and exhausted, Fars languished helpless beneath its weight, calling for the charity of its neighbours and the assistance of its friends. Husayn Khan himself witnessed with bitterness the undoing of all his labours, was condemned to lead in obscurity the remaining days of his life, and tottered to his grave, abandoned and forgotten, alike by his friends and his enemies.

The next who sought to challenge the Faith of the Bab <p525> and to stem its progress was Haji Mirza Aqasi. It was he who, for selfish purposes and in order to court the favour of the abject ulamas of his time, interposed between the Bab and Muhammad Shah and endeavoured to prevent their meeting. It was he who pronounced the banishment of his dreaded Captive to a sequestered corner of Adhirbayjan and, with dogged vigilance, kept watch over His isolation. It was he who was made the recipient of that denunciatory Tablet in which his Prisoner foreshadowed his doom and exposed his infamy. Barely a year and six months had passed after the Bab had reached the neighbourhood of Tihran, when Divine vengeance hurled him from power and drove him to seek shelter within the inglorious precincts of the shrine of Shah-'Abdu'l-'Azim, a refugee from the wrath of his own people. From thence the hand of the Avenger drove him into exile beyond the confines of his native land, and plunged him into an ocean of afflictions until he met his death in circumstances of abject poverty and unspeakable distress.

As to the regiment which, despite the unaccountable failure of Sam Khan and his men to destroy the life of the Bab, had volunteered to renew that attempt, and which eventually riddled His body with its bullets, two hundred and fifty of its members met their death in that same year, together with their officers, in a terrible earthquake. While they were resting on a hot summer day under the shadow of a wall on their way between Ardibil and Tabriz, absorbed in their games and pleasures, the whole structure suddenly collapsed and fell upon them, leaving not one survivor. The remaining five hundred suffered the same fate as that which their own hands had inflicted upon the Bab. Three years after His martyrdom, that regiment mutinied, and its members were thereupon mercilessly shot by command of Mirza Sadiq Khan-i-Nuri. Not content with a first volley, he ordered that a second one be fired in order to ensure that none of the mutineers had survived. Their bodies were afterwards pierced with spears and lances, and left exposed to the gaze of the people of Tabriz. That day many of the inhabitants of the city, recalling the circumstances of the Bab's martyrdom, wondered at that same fate which had overtaken those who had slain Him. "Could it be, by any chance, the vengeance <p526> of God," a few were heard to whisper to one another, "that has brought the whole regiment to so dishonourable and tragic an end? If that youth had been a lying impostor, why should his persecutors have been so severely punished?" These expressed misgivings reached the ears of the leading mujtahids of the city, who were seized with great fear and ordered that all those who entertained such doubts should be severely punished. Some were beaten, others were fined, all were warned to cease such whisperings, which could only revive the memory of a terrible adversary and rekindle enthusiasm for His Cause.

The prime mover of the forces that precipitated the Bab's martyrdom, the Amir-Nizam, and also his brother, the Vazir-Nizam, his chief accomplice, were, within two years of that savage act, subjected to a dreadful punishment, which ended miserably in their death. The blood of the Amir-Nizam stains, to this very day, the wall of the bath of Fin,[1] a witness to the atrocities his own hand had wrought.[2]

[1 "It is true," writes Lord Curzon, "that his [Nasiri'd-Din Shah's] reign has been disfigured by one or two acts of regrettable violence; worst among which was the murder of his first Prime Minister, Mirza Taqi Khan, the Amir-Nizam.... The brother-in-law of the Shah, and the first subject in the kingdom, he owed the vindictiveness of court intrigue and to the maliciously excited jealously of his youthful sovereign, a disgrace which his enemies were not satisfied until they had fulfilled by the death of their fallen, but still formidable victim." ("Persia and the Persian Question," vol. 1, p. 402.)]

[2 "Every one knew that the Babis had foretold the death of the prime minister and predicted the manner of his going. It happened precisely, it is said, as the martyrs of Zanjan, Mirza Rida, Haji Muhammad-'Ali and Haji Muhsin had announced. Fallen into disgrace and pursued by the royal hatred, his veins were slashed open in the village of Fin, near Kashan, as the veins of his victims had been slashed. His successor was Mirza Aqa Khan-i-Nuri of a noble tribe of Mazindaran, and erstwhile minister of war. This new official took the title of Sadr-i-A'zam which is the privilege of the grand viziers of the Ottoman Empire. This occurred in 1852. (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 230.)] <p527>




THE spark that had kindled the great conflagrations of Mazindaran and Nayriz had already set aflame Zanjan [1] and its surroundings when the Bab met His death in Tabriz. Profound as was His sorrow at the sad and calamitous fate that had overtaken the heroes of Shaykh Tabarsi, the news of the no less tragic sufferings that had been the lot of Vahid and his companions, came as an added blow to His heart, already oppressed by the weight of manifold afflictions. The consciousness of the dangers that thickened around Him; the memory of the indignity He endured when He was last conducted to Tabriz; the strain of a prolonged and rigorous captivity amidst the mountain fastnesses of Adhirbayjan; the terrible butcheries that marked the closing stages of the Mazindaran and Nayriz upheavals; the outrages to His Faith wrought by the persecutors of the Seven Martyrs of Tihran--even these were not all the troubles <p528> that beclouded the remaining days of a fast-ebbing life. He was already prostrated by the severity of these blows when the news of the happenings at Zanjan, which were then beginning to foreshadow their sad events, reached Him and served to consummate the anguish of His last days. What pangs must He have endured as the shadows of death were fast gathering about Him! In every field, whether in the north or in the south, the champions of His Faith had been subjected to undeserved sufferings, had been infamously deceived, had been robbed of their possessions, and had been inhumanly massacred. And now, as if to fill His cup of woes to over-flowing, <p529> there broke forth the storm of Zanjan, the most violent and devastating of them all.[2]

[1 Capital of the district of Khamsih. Zanjan is the capital of the district of Khamsih. "Khamsih is a small province to the east of Kaflan-Kuh or Mountain of the Tiger, between Iraq and Adhirbayjan. Its capital, Zanjan, is a beautiful city surrounded by an embattled wall fortified with towers like all Persian cities. The inhabitants are of the Turkish race and the Persian language is seldom spoken, unless it be by government employees. The surrounding country is studded with villages which are fairly prosperous. Powerful tribes visit them, especially in the winter and spring." (Ibid., p. 191.)]

[2 "Now in these years [A.H. 1266 and 1267] throughout all Persia fire fell on the households of the Babi's, and each one of them, in whatever hamlet he might be, was, on the slightest suspicion arising, put to the sword. More than four thousand souls were slain, and a great multitude of women and children, left without protector or helper, distracted and confounded, were trodden down and destroyed." ("A Traveller's Narrative," pp. 47-8.) "There lived in that city a mujtahid called

Mulla ]

I now proceed to relate the circumstances that have made of that event one of the most thrilling episodes in the history of this Revelation. Its chief figure was Hujjat-i-Zanjani, whose name was Mulla Muhammad-'Ali,[1] one of the ablest ecclesiastical dignitaries of his age, and certainly one of the most formidable champions of the Cause. His father, Mulla Rahim-i-Zanjani, was one of the leading mujtahids of Zanjan, and was greatly esteemed for his piety, his learning and force of character. Mulla Muhammad-'Ali, surnamed Hujjat, was born in the year 1227 A.H.[2] From his very boyhood, he showed such capacity that his father lavished the utmost care upon his education. He sent him to Najaf, where he distinguished himself by his insight, his ability and fiery ardour.[3] His scholarship and keen intelligence excited the admiration of his friends, whilst his outspokenness and the strength of his character made him the terror of his adversaries. His father advised him not to return to Zanjan, <p530> where his enemies were conspiring against him. He accordingly decided to establish his residence in Hamadan,[4] where he married one of his kinswomen, and lived there for about two and a half years, when the news of his father's death decided him to leave for his native town. The ovation accorded him on his arrival inflamed the hostility of the ulamas, who, despite their avowed opposition, received at his hands every mark of consideration and kindness.[5]

[1 Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Zanjani. He was a native of Mazindaran and studied under a celebrated master. Dignified with the title of Sharifu'l-'Ulama, Muhammad-'Ali had concentrated his attention on dogmatic theology and jurisprudence, and had become famous. The Muhammadans affirm that, in his function as mujtahid, he showed himself restless and turbulent. No question ever seemed to him either sufficiently studied or properly solved. His repeated fatvas disconcerted the conscience and confused the practices of the faithful. Eager for change, he was neither tolerant in discussion nor moderate in debate. Sometimes he would unduly prolong the fast of Ramadan for reasons which no one had advanced before; sometimes he would alter the ritual of prayer in quite a novel way. He became obnoxious to the peaceful and odious to the traditionalists. But it is also admitted that he counted many followers who considered him a saint, prized his zeal, and put their faith in him. An impartial judge could recognize in him one of the Muhammadans who are only so in appearance, but urged on by a living faith and an abundant religious zeal for which they are eager to find a scope. His misfortune was that he found, or thought he found, a natural use for his powers in the overthrow of traditions whose minor significance did not justify such a disturbance." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 191-192.)]

[2 1812-13 A.D.]

[3 "Among the Ulamas of the city was a man called Akhund Mulla Abdu'r-Rahim renowned for his piety. He had a son who lived in Najaf and at Karbila where he attended the lectures of the celebrated Sharifu'l-'Ulamay-i-Mazindarani. This young man was of a restless nature and rather impatient with the narrowness of Shi'ism." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 332.)]

[4 "On his way back from the Holy Land he stopped at Hamadan where the citizens welcomed him cordially and entreated him to remain." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 336.)]

[5 "All the Ulamas of the city called on him and left concerned over the few words which he had spoken and which revealed quite a novel turn of mind. Indeed the attitude of the newcomer very quickly proved to these pious men that their conjectures were well founded." (Ibid.)]

From the pulpit of the masjid which his friends erected in his honour, he urged the vast throng that gathered to hear him, to refrain from self-indulgence and to exercise moderation in all their acts.[1] He ruthlessly suppressed every form of abuse, and by his example encouraged the people to adhere rigidly to the principles inculcated by the Qur'an. Such were the care and ability with which he taught his disciples that they surpassed in knowledge and understanding the recognized ulamas of Zanjan. For seventeen years, he pursued his meritorious labours and succeeded in purging the minds and hearts of his fellow-townsmen from whatever seemed contrary to the spirit and teachings of their Faith.[2]

[1 "There was a caravansary of the days of Shah-'Abbas which had gradually become a sighih-khanih: in order to prevent a breach of the Shiite law a certain Mulla Dust-Muhammad who made his residence there, would bless the transitory union between the male visitors to the place and the inmates. Hujjatu'l-Islam, such was the title which our hero had assumed, ordered the institution to be closed, gave in marriage the greater number of these women and secured employment for the others in respectable families. He also caused a wine dealer to be whipped and his house to be torn down." (Ibid., pp. 332-333.)]

[2 "But this was the limit of his activity. Always troubled with the problems raised by a religion founded upon hadiths which were frequently contradictory, he perplexed the conscience of the faithful by peculiar fatvas which upset old traditions. Thus he restored the hadith according to which Muhammad would have said: The month of Ramadan is always full.' Without investigating the origin of that tradition, without enquiring whether those who had related it were worthy of faith, he commanded that it should be literally obeyed, thus inducing his hearers to fast on the day of Fitr which is held to be a grievous sin. He also permitted that prostrations be made at prayer time by resting the head upon a crystal stone. All these innovations won for him a large number of partisans who admired his science and his activity; but they displeased the official clergy whose hatred, further augmented by anxiety, soon knew no bounds." (Ibid., p. 333.)]

When the Call from Shiraz reached him, he despatched his trusted messenger, Mulla Iskandar, to enquire into the claims of the new Revelation; and such was his response to <p531> that Message that his enemies were stirred to redouble their attacks upon him. Unable, hitherto, to disgrace him in the eyes of the government and the people, they now endeavoured to denounce him as an advocate of heresy and a repudiator of all that is sacred and cherished in Islam. "His reputation for justice, for piety, wisdom, and learning," they whispered to one another, "has been such as to render it impossible for us to shake his position. When summoned to Tihran, in the presence of Muhammad Shah was he not able, by his magnetic eloquence, to win him over to his side, and make of him one of his devoted admirers? Now, however, that he has so openly championed the cause of the Siyyid-i-Bab, we can surely succeed in obtaining from the government the order for his arrest and banishment from our town."

They accordingly drew up a petition to Muhammad Shah, in which they sought, by every device their malevolent and crafty minds could invent, to discredit his name. "While still professing himself a follower of our Faith," they complained, "he, by the aid of his disciples, was able to repudiate our authority. Now that he has identified himself with the cause of the Siyyid-i-Bab and won over to that hateful creed two-thirds of the inhabitants of Zanjan, what humiliation will he not inflict upon us! The concourse that throngs his gates, the whole masjid can no longer contain. Such is his influence that the masjid that belonged to his father and the one that has been built in his honour, have been connected and made into one edifice in order to accommodate the ever-increasing multitude that hastens eagerly to follow his lead in prayer. The time is fast approaching when not only Zanjan but the neighbouring villages also will have declared themselves his supporters."

The Shah was greatly surprised at the tone and language with which the petitioners sought to arraign Hujjat. He shared his astonishment with Mirza Nazar-'Ali, the Hakim-Bashi, and recalled the glowing tribute which many a visitor to Zanjan had paid to the abilities and integrity of the accused. He decided to summon him, together with his opponents, to Tihran. In a special gathering at which he himself, together with Haji Mirza Aqasi and the leading officials of the government, as well as a number of the recognized ulamas <p532> of Tihran, had assembled, he called upon the ecclesiastical leaders of Zanjan to vindicate the claims they had advanced. Whatever questions they submitted to Hujjat, regarding the teachings of their Faith, he answered in a manner that could not fail to win the unqualified admiration of his hearers and to establish the sovereign's confidence in his innocence. The Shah expressed his entire satisfaction, and amply rewarded Hujjat for the excellent manner in which he had succeeded in refuting the allegations of his enemies. He bade him return to Zanjan and resume his valuable services to the cause of his people, assuring him that he would under all circumstances support him and asking to be informed of any difficulty with which he might be faced in the future.[1]

[1 "Hujjat came and, by his courtesy and his captivating personality, soon won over all those who came in contact with him, even His Majesty. One day, so the story goes, he was in the palace of the Shah with several of his colleagues, when one of them, an Ulama of Kashan, brought out a document and besought the king to sign it. It was a royal decree granting certain stipends. Hujjat rose up and bitterly denounced a clergy who begged pensions from the government. He had recourse to the hadiths and to the Qur'an to show how shameful was such a practice which had originated with the Bani-Umayyih. His colleagues were beside themselves with anger, but the Shah, pleased with such frankness, presented our hero with a staff and a ring and authorized him to return to Zanjan." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 373-374.)]

His arrival at Zanjan was the signal for a fierce outburst on the part of his humiliated opponents. As the evidences of their hostility multiplied, the marks of devotion on the part of his friends and supporters correspondingly increased.[1] Utterly disdainful of their machinations, he pursued his activities with unrelaxing zeal.[2] The liberal principles which he unceasingly and fearlessly advocated struck at the very root of the fabric which a bigoted enemy had laboriously reared. They beheld with impotent fury the disruption of their authority and the collapse of their institutions.

[1 "The inhabitants of Zanjan came in crowds to meet him and offered sacrifices of oxen, chickens and sheep. Twelve children, each twelve years of age, with red kerchiefs about their necks to show their readiness to sacrifice their all, were in the center of the cortege. It proved a triumphal entry." (Ibid., p. 334.)]

[2 "He transformed his disciples into models of virtue and temperance; henceforth the men quenched their thirst at the fountains of spiritual life. They fasted during three months, lengthened their prayers by adding to them daily the invocation of Ja'far-i-Tayyar, performing once a day their ablutions with the water of the Qur (legal measure of purity) and finally on Fridays they crowded the Mosques." (Ibid., p. 334.)]

It was in those days that his special envoy, Mashhadi Ahmad, whom he had confidentially despatched to Shiraz with a petition and gifts from him to the Bab, arrived at <p533> Zanjan and delivered into his hands, while he was addressing his disciples, a sealed letter from his Beloved. In the Tablet he received, the Bab conferred upon him one of His own titles, that of Hujjat, and urged him to proclaim from the pulpit, without the least reservation, the fundamental teachings of His Faith. No sooner was he informed of the wishes of his Master than he declared his resolve to devote himself to the immediate enforcement of whatever injunction that Tablet contained. He immediately dismissed his disciples, bade them close their books, and declared his intention of discontinuing his courses of study. "Of what profit," he said, "are study and research to those who have already found the Truth, and why strive after learning when He who is the Object of all knowledge is made manifest?"

As soon as he attempted to lead the congregation in offering the Friday prayer, enjoined upon him by the Bab,[1] the Imam-Jum'ih, who had hitherto performed that duty, vehemently protested, on the ground that this right was the exclusive privilege of his own forefathers, that it had been conferred upon him by his sovereign, and that no one, however exalted his station, could usurp it. "That right," Hujjat retorted, "has been superseded by the authority with which the Qa'im Himself has invested me. I have been commanded by Him to assume that function publicly, and I cannot allow any person to trespass upon that right. If attacked, I will take steps to defend myself and to protect the lives of my companions."

[1 "Finally, he uttered in a clear voice the Friday prayer which must be said instead of the habitual daily one said when the Imam comes. He then expounded several sayings of the Bab and concluded thus: 'The goal for which the world has been striving is now here, free from veils and obstacles. The sun of Truth has risen and the lights of imagination and imitation have been extinguished. Fix your eyes upon the Bab, not upon me, the least of his slaves. My wisdom compared to his is as an unlighted candle to the sun at midday. Know God by God and the sun by its rays. So, today has appeared the Sahibu'z-Zaman. The Sultan of Possibilities is living.' Needless to say, these words made a deep impression upon the audience. Nearly all accepted this message and conversed among themselves regarding the true nature of the Bab." (Ibid., p. 335.)]

His fearless insistence on the duty laid upon him by the Bab caused the ulamas of Zanjan to league themselves with the Imam-Jum'ih [1] and to lay their complaints before Haji Mirza Aqasi, pleading that Hujjat had challenged the validity <p534> of recognized institutions and trampled upon their rights. "We must either flee from this town with our families and belongings," they pleaded, "and leave him in sole charge of the destinies of its people, or obtain from Muhammad Shah an edict for his immediate expulsion from this country; for we firmly believe that to allow him to remain on its soil would be courting disaster." Though Haji Mirza Aqasi, in his heart, distrusted the ecclesiastical order of his country and had a natural aversion to their beliefs and practices, he was forced eventually to yield to their pressing demands, and submitted the matter to Muhammad Shah, who ordered the transfer of Hujjat from Zanjan to the capital.

[1 "The conversion of Mulla Muhammad-'Ali and his numerous partisans had in fact exhausted the patience of the Imam-Jum'ih and of Shaykhu'l-Islam. They wrote indignant letters to His Majesty who in reply gave orders for the arrest of the offender." (Ibid., p. 336.)]

A Kurd named Qilij Khan was commissioned by the Shah to deliver the royal summons to Hujjat. The Bab had meanwhile arrived in the neighbourhood of Tihran on His way to Tabriz. Ere the arrival of the royal messenger at Zanjan, Hujjat had sent one of his friends, a certain Khan-Muhammad-i-Tub-Chi, to his Master with a petition in which he begged to be allowed to rescue Him from the hands of the enemy. The Bab assured him that His deliverance the Almighty alone could achieve and that no one could escape from His decree or evade His law. "As to your meeting with Me," He added, "it soon will take place in the world beyond, the home of unfading glory."

The day Hujjat received that message, Qilij Khan arrived at Zanjan, acquainted him with the orders he had received, and set out, accompanied by him, for the capital. Their arrival at Tihran coincided with the Bab's departure from the village of Kulayn, where He had been detained for some days.

The authorities, apprehensive lest a meeting between the Bab and Hujjat might lead to fresh disturbances, had taken the necessary precautions to ensure the absence of the latter from Zanjan during the Bab's passage through that town. The companions who were following Hujjat at a distance, whilst he was on his way to the capital, were urged by him to return and try to meet their Master and to assure Him of his readiness to come to His rescue. On their way back to their homes, they encountered the Bab, who again expressed His desire that no one of His friends should attempt to <p535> deliver Him from His captivity. He even directed them to tell the believers among their fellow-townsmen not to press round Him, but even to avoid Him wherever He went.

No sooner had that message been delivered to those who had gone out to welcome Him on His approach to their town than they began to grieve and deplore their fate. They could not, however, resist the impulse that drove them to march forth to meet Him, forgetful of the desire He had expressed.

As soon as they were met by the guards who were marching in advance of their Captive, they were ruthlessly dispersed. On reaching a fork in the road, there arose an altercation <p536> between Muhammad Big-i-Chaparchi and his colleague, who had been despatched from Tihran to assist in conducting the Bab to Tabriz. Muhammad Big insisted that their Prisoner should be taken into the town, where He should be allowed to pass the night in the caravanserai of Mirza Ma'sum-i-Tabib, the father of Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Tabib, a martyr of the Faith, before resuming their march to Adhirbayjan. He pleaded that to pass the night outside the gate would be to expose their lives to danger, and would encourage their opponents to attempt an attack upon them. He eventually succeeded in convincing his colleague that he should conduct the Bab to that caravanserai. As they were passing through the streets, they were amazed to see the multitude that had crowded onto the housetops in their eagerness to catch a glimpse of the face of the Prisoner.

Mirza Ma'sum, the former owner of the caravanserai, had lately died, and his eldest son, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, the leading physician of Hamadan, who, though not a believer, was a true lover of the Bab, had arrived at Zanjan and was in mourning for his father. He lovingly received the Bab in the caravanserai he had specially prepared beforehand for His reception. That night he remained until a late hour in His presence and was completely won over to His Cause.

"The same night that witnessed my conversion," I heard him subsequently relate, "I arose ere break of day, lit my lantern, and, preceded by my father's attendant, directed my steps towards the caravanserai. The guards who were stationed at the entrance recognized me and allowed me to enter. The Bab was performing His ablutions when I was ushered into His presence. I was greatly impressed when I saw Him absorbed in His devotions. A feeling of reverent joy filled my heart as I stood behind Him and prayed. I myself prepared His tea and was offering it to Him when He turned to me and bade me depart for Hamadan. 'This town,' He said, 'will be thrown into a great tumult, and its streets will run with blood.' I expressed my strong desire to be allowed to shed my blood in His path. He assured me that the hour of my martyrdom had not yet come, and bade me be resigned to whatever God might decree. At the hour <p537> of sunrise, as He mounted His horse and was preparing to depart, I begged to be allowed to follow Him, but He advised me to remain, and assured me of His unfailing prayers. Resigning myself to His will, with regret I watched Him disappear from my sight."

On his arrival at Tihran, Hujjat was conducted into the presence of Haji Mirza Aqasi; who, on behalf of the Shah and himself, expressed his annoyance at the intense hostility which his conduct had aroused among the ulamas of Zanjan. "Muhammad Shah and I," he told him, "are continually besieged by the oral as well as written denunciations brought against you. I could scarcely believe their indictment relating to your desertion of the Faith of your forefathers. Nor is the Shah inclined to credit such assertions. I have been commanded by him to summon you to his capital and to call upon you to refute such accusations. It grieves me to hear that a man whom I consider infinitely superior in knowledge and ability to the Siyyid-i-Bab has chosen to identify himself with his creed." "Not so," replied Hujjat; "God knows that if that same Siyyid were to entrust me with the meanest service in His household, I would deem it an honour such as the highest favours of my sovereign could never hope to surpass." "This can never be!" burst forth Haji Mirza Aqasi. "It is my firm and unalterable conviction," Hujjat reaffirmed, "that this Siyyid of Shiraz is the very One whose advent you yourself, with all the peoples of the world, are eagerly awaiting. He is our Lord, our promised Deliverer.

Haji Mirza Aqasi reported the matter to Muhammad Shah, to whom he expressed his fears that to allow so formidable an adversary, whom the sovereign himself believed to be the most accomplished of the ulamas of his realm, to pursue unhindered the course of his activities would be a policy fraught with gravest danger to the State. The Shah, disinclined to credit such reports, which he attributed to the malice and envy of the enemies of the accused, ordered that a special meeting be convened at which he should be asked to vindicate his position in the presence of the assembled ulamas of the capital.

Several meetings were held for that purpose, before each <p538> of which Hujjat eloquently set forth the basic claims of his Faith and confounded the arguments of those who tried to oppose him. "Is not the following tradition," he boldly declared, "recognized alike by shi'ah and sunni Islam: 'I leave amidst you my twin testimonies, the Book of God and my family'? Has not the second of these testimonies, in your opinion, passed away, and is not our sole means of guidance, as a result, contained in the testimony of the sacred Book? I appeal to you to measure every claim that either of us shall advance, by the standard established in that Book, and to regard it as the supreme authority whereby the righteousness of our argument can be judged." Unable to defend their case against him, they, as a last resort, ventured to ask him to produce a miracle whereby to establish the truth of his assertion. "What greater miracle," he exclaimed, "than that He should have enabled me to triumph, alone and unaided, by the simple power of my argument, over the combined forces of the mujtahids and ulamas of Tihran?"

The masterly manner in which Hujjat refuted the unsound claims advanced by his adversaries won for him the favour of his sovereign, who from that day forth was no longer swayed by the insinuations of his enemies. Although the entire company of the ulamas of Zanjan, as well as a number of the ecclesiastical leaders of Tihran, had declared him to be an infidel and condemned him to death, yet Muhammad Shah continued to bestow his favours upon him and to assure him that he could rely on his support. Haji Mirza Aqasi, though at heart unfriendly to Hujjat, was unable, in the face of such unmistakable evidences of royal favour, to resist his influence openly, and by his frequent visits to his house, and by the gifts he lavished upon him, that deceitful minister sought to conceal his resentment and envy.

Hujjat was virtually a prisoner in Tihran. He was unable to go beyond the gates of the capital, nor was he allowed free intercourse with his friends. The believers among his fellow-townsmen eventually determined to send a deputation and ask him for fresh instructions regarding their attitude towards the laws and principles of their Faith. He charged them to observe with absolute loyalty the admonitions he had received from the Bab through the messengers he had <p539> sent to investigate His Cause. He enumerated a series of observances, some of which constituted a definite departure from the established traditions of Islam. "Siyyid Kazim-i-Zanjani," he assured them, "has been intimately connected with my Master both in Shiraz and in Isfahan. He, as well as Mulla Iskandar and Mashhadi Ahmad, both of whom I sent to meet Him, have positively declared that He Himself is the first to practise the observances He has enjoined upon the faithful. It therefore behoves us who are His supporters to follow His noble example."

These explicit instructions were no sooner read to his companions than they became inflamed with an irresistible desire to carry out his wishes. They enthusiastically set to work to enforce the laws of the new Dispensation, and, giving up their former customs and practices, unhesitatingly identified themselves with its claims. Even the little children were encouraged to follow scrupulously the admonitions of the Bab. "Our beloved Master," they were taught to say, "Himself is the first to practise them. Why should we who are His privileged disciples hesitate to make them the ruling principles of our lives?"

Hujjat was still a captive in Tihran when the news of the siege of the fort of Tabarsi reached him. He longed, and deplored his inability, to throw in his lot with those of his companions who were struggling with such splendid heroism for the emancipation of their Faith. His sole consolation in those days was his close association with Baha'u'llah, from whom he received the sustaining power that enabled him, in the time to come, to distinguish himself by deeds no less remarkable than those which that company had manifested in the darkest hours of their memorable struggle.

He was still in Tihran when Muhammad Shah passed away, leaving the throne to his son Nasiri'd-Din Shah.[1] The Amir-Nizam, the new Grand Vazir, decided to make Hujjat's imprisonment more rigorous, and to seek in the meantime a way of destroying him. On being informed of the imminence of the danger that threatened his life, his captive decided to <p540> leave Tihran in disguise and join his companions, who eagerly awaited his return.

[1 "He was in Tihran until the day when, after the death of Muhammad Shah, Nasir'd-Din Mirza now Nasiri'd-Din Shah, appointed as governor of Zanjan, one of his uncles, Amir Arslan Khan Majdu'd-Dawlih, who was Ishiq Aghasi of the palace." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 337.)]

His arrival at his native town, which a certain Karbila'i Vali-'Attar announced to his companions, was a signal for a tremendous demonstration of devoted loyalty on the part of his many admirers. They flocked out, men, women, and children, to welcome him and to renew their assurances of abiding and undiminished affection.[1] The governor of Zanjan, Majdu'd-Dawlih,[2] the maternal uncle of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, astounded by the spontaneity of that ovation, ordered, in the fury of his despair, that the tongue of Karbila'i Vali-'Attar be immediately cut out. Though at heart he loathed Hujjat, he pretended to be his friend and well-wisher. He often visited him and showed him unbounded consideration, yet he was secretly conspiring against his life and was waiting for the moment when he could strike the fatal blow.

[1 "He made a triumphant entry into his native city. Now that he was a Babi, to his old friends were added the believers in the new doctrine. A large number of men, rich and respected, soldiers, merchants, even Mullas came to meet him, at a distance of one or two stations away, and conducted him home, not as an exile who returns, not as a suppliant who asks only rest, not even as a rival strong enough to demand respect, but he entered as a master." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 193.) "The author of 'Nasikhu't-Tavarikh' himself acknowledged that a goodly number of citizens of Zanjan, and among them high officials, traveled the distance of two stations to meet him. He was received like a conqueror and many heads of sheep were sacrificed in his honor. None of his opponents dared ask him why he had left Tihran and had returned to Zanjan; but Islam was severely tried as the Zanjanis did not hesitate to preach throughout the city the new doctrine. The Muhammadan writer points out that all the Zanjanis were simple-minded and so fell easily into the snare; but contradicting himself he declares that only the knaves, greedy for worldly possessions, and the impious ones gathered round the new leader. However they were quite numerous and, according to his story, about fifteen thousand, which seems rather an exaggerated estimate." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 337-338.)]

[2 "Majdu'd-Dawlih, governor of the city, a cruel, heartless and severe man, enraged at the news of the return of so troublesome a person as Hujjat, ordered that Muhammad Big be whipped and that the tongue of Karbila'i Vali be cut out." (Ibid., p. 337.)]

That smouldering hostility was soon to be fanned into flame by an incident that was of little importance in itself. The occasion was afforded when a quarrel suddenly broke out between two children of Zanjan, one of whom belonged to a kinsman of one of the companions of Hujjat. The governor immediately ordered that child to be arrested and placed in strict confinement. A sum of money was offered <p541> by the believers to the governor, in order to induce him to release his young prisoner. He refused their offer, whereupon they complained to Hujjat, who vehemently protested. "That child," he wrote to the governor, "is too young to be held responsible for his behaviour. If he deserves punishment, his father and not he should be made to suffer."

Finding that the appeal had been ignored, he renewed his protest and entrusted it to the hands of one of his influential comrades, Mir Jalil, father of Siyyid Ashraf and martyr of the Faith, directing him to present it in person to the governor. The guards stationed at the entrance of the house at first refused him admittance. Indignant at their refusal, he threatened to force his way through the gate, and succeeded, by the mere threat of unsheathing his sword, in overcoming their resistance and in compelling the infuriated governor to release the child.

The unconditional compliance of the governor with the demand of Mir Jalil stirred the furious indignation of the ulamas. They violently protested, and deprecated his submission to the threats with which their opponents had sought to intimidate him. They expressed to him their fear that such a surrender on his part would encourage them to make still greater demands upon him, would enable them before long to assume the reins of authority and to exclude him from any share in the administration of the government. They eventually induced him to consent to the arrest of Hujjat, an act which they were convinced would succeed in checking the progress of his influence.

The governor reluctantly consented. He was repeatedly assured by the ulamas that his action would under no circumstances endanger the peace and security of the town. Two of their supporters, Pahlavan[1] Asadu'llah and Pahlavan Safar-'Ali, both notorious for their brutality and prodigious strength, volunteered to seize Hujjat and deliver him hand-cuffed to the governor. Each was promised a handsome reward in return for this service. Clad in their amour, with helmets on their heads, and followed by a band of ruffians recruited from among the most degraded of the population. <p542> they set out to accomplish their purpose. The ulamas were in the meantime busily engaged in inciting the populace and encouraging them to reinforce their efforts.

[1 See Glossary.]

As soon as the emissaries arrived in the quarter in which Hujjat was living, they were unexpectedly confronted by Mir Salah, one of his most formidable supporters, who, together with seven of his armed companions, strenuously opposed their advance. He asked Asadu'llah whither he was bound, and, on receiving from him an insulting answer, unsheathed his sword and, with the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!"[1] sprang upon him and wounded him in the forehead. Mir Salah's audacity, in spite of the heavy amour which his adversary was wearing, frightened the whole band and caused them to flee in different directions.[2]

[1 See Glossary.]

[2 "At the spectacle, the Muhammadans took flight and the wounded man was cared for the aunt of Mir Salah in her own house." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 341.)]

The cry which that stout-hearted defender of the Faith raised on that day was heard for the first time in Zanjan, a cry that spread panic through the town. The governor was terrified by its tremendous force, and asked what that shout could mean and whose voice had been able to raise it. He was gravely shaken when told that it was the watchword of Hujjat's companions, with which they called for the assistance of the Qa'im in the hour of distress.

The remnants of that affrighted band encountered, shortly after, Shaykh Muhammad-i-Tub-Chi, whom they immediately recognized as one of their ablest adversaries. Finding him unarmed, they fell upon him and, with an axe one of them was carrying, struck him and broke his head. They bore him to the governor, and no sooner had they laid down the wounded man than a certain Siyyid Abu'l-Qasim, one of the mujtahids of Zanjan who was present, leaped forward and, with his penknife, stabbed him in the breast. The governor too, unsheathing his sword, struck him on the mouth and was followed by the attendants who, with the weapons they carried with them, completed the murder of their hapless victim. As their blows rained upon him, unmindful of his sufferings, he was heard to say: "I thank Thee, O my God, for having vouchsafed me the crown of martyrdom."<p543> He was the first among the believers of Zanjan to lay down his life in the path of the Cause. His death, which occurred on Friday, the fourth of Rajab, in the year 1266 A.H.,[1] preceded by forty-five days the martyrdom of Vahid and by fifty-five days that of the Bab.

[1 May 16, 1850 A.D.]

The blood that was shed on that day, far from allaying the hostility of the enemy, served further to inflame their passions, and to reinforce their determination to subject to the same fate the rest of the companions. Encouraged by the governor's tacit approval of their expressed intentions, they resolved to put to death all upon whom they could lay their hands, without obtaining beforehand an express authorisation from the government officials. They solemnly covenanted among themselves not to rest until they had extinguished the fire of what they deemed a shameless heresy.[1] They compelled the governor to bid a crier proclaim throughout Zanjan that whoever was willing to endanger his life, to forfeit his property, and expose his wife and children to misery and shame, should throw in his lot with Hujjat and his companions; and that those desirous of ensuring the well-being and honour of themselves and their families, should withdraw from the neighbourhood in which those companions resided and seek the shelter of the sovereign's protection.

[1 "The governor and the Ulamas wrote to His Majesty reports in which their fear and perplexity were revealed. The Shah, hardly rid of the war in Mazindaran and enraged at the thought of another sedition in another section of his empire, urged also by his son Sadr-i-A'zam and by the ulamas who had declared a holy war, gave orders to kill the Babis and

plunder their possessions. It was on Friday the third of Rajab that the order came to Zanjan." (Ibid., pp. 341-342.)]

That warning immediately divided the inhabitants into two distinct camps, and severely tested the faith of those who were still wavering in their allegiance to the Cause. It gave rise to the most pathetic scenes, caused the separation of fathers from their sons and the estrangement of brothers and of kindred. Every tie of worldly affection seemed to be dissolving on that day, and the solemn pledges were forsaken in favour of a loyalty mightier and more sacred than any earthly allegiance. Zanjan fell a prey to the wildest excitement. The cry of distress which members of divided families, in a frenzy of despair, raised to heaven, mingled with the blasphemous shouts which a threatening enemy <p544> hurled upon them. Shouts of exultation hailed at every turn those who, tearing themselves from their homes and kinsmen, enrolled themselves as willing supporters of the Cause of Hujjat. The camp of the enemy hummed with feverish activity in preparation for the great struggle upon which they had secretly determined. Reinforcements were rushed into the town from the neighbouring villages, at the command of its governor and with the encouragement of the mujtahids, the siyyids, and the ulamas who supported him.[1]

[1 "All was bewildering confusion. The Muhammadans were frantically running to and fro, looking for their wives, their children or their belongings. They came and went crazed, aghast, weeping over what they had to abandon. Families were separated, fathers thrusting back their sons, wives their husbands, children their mothers. Whole houses remained deserted. so great was the haste, and the governor sent soldiers to the neighboring villages to secure new recruits for the holy war." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 342.)]

Undeterred by the growing tumult, Hujjat ascended the pulpit and, with uplifted voice, proclaimed to the congregation: "The hand of Omnipotence has, in this day, separated truth from falsehood and divided the light of guidance from the darkness of error. I am unwilling that because of me you should suffer injury. The one aim of the governor and of the ulamas who support him is to seize and kill me. They cherish no other ambition. They thirst for my blood and seek no one besides me. Whoever among you feels the least desire to safeguard his life against the perils with which we are beset, whoever is reluctant to offer his life for our Cause, let him, ere it is too late, betake himself from this place and return whence he came."[1]

[1 "The Babis, on the other hand, were not passive. They were organizing for their own protection. Hujjat was exhorting them never to attack but always to defend themselves. 'Brothers,' he would say to them, 'do not be ashamed of me. Do not believe that because you are the companions of the Sahibu'z-Zaman you are to conquer the world by the sword. I take God as witness; they will kill you, they will burn you, they will send your heads from town to town. The only victory in store for you is to sacrifice yourselves, your wives and your possessions. God has always decreed that in every age the blood of the believers is to be the oil of the lamp of religion. You have learned of the tortures endured by the saintly martyrs of Mazindaran. They were put to death because they affirmed that the promised Mihdi had come. I say to you, whosoever has not the strength to bear such torture, let him go over to the other side for we will have to endure martyrdom. Is not our master in their power?'" (Ibid., pp. 342-343.)]

That day more than three thousand men were recruited by the governor from the surrounding villages of Zanjan. Meanwhile Mir Salah, accompanied by a number of his comrades, who observed the growing restiveness of their <p545> opponents, sought the presence of Hujjat and urged him, as a precautionary measure, to transfer his residence to the fort of Ali-Mardan Khan,[1] adjacent to the quarter in which he was residing. Hujjat gave his consent and ordered that their women and children, together with such provisions as they might require, be taken to the fort. Though they found it occupied by its owners, the companions eventually induced them to withdraw, and gave them in exchange the houses in which they themselves had been dwelling.

[1 "Picture to yourself a Persian city. The streets are narrow, of a width of four or five or eight feet at the most. The surface unpaved has so many holes that one must proceed cautiously to avoid breaking one's legs. The houses, with no windows opening on the street, present on both sides unbroken walls, generally about fifteen feet high and topped with a terrace without a railing, sometimes crowned by a bala-Khanih or open pavilion which is usually an indication of a wealthy house. All that is of adobe or bricks baked in the sun. The uprights are of bricks baked in the kiln. This type, of venerable antiquity and in use even before historical times in the ancient cities of Mesopotamia, has many advantages: it is inexpensive, it is sanitary, it adapts itself to modest or pretentious plans; it can be a cottage or a palace entirely covered with mosaics, brilliant paintings and gold ornaments. But, as is always the case in this world, so many advantages are offset by the ease with which such dwellings crumble to pieces. Cannon balls are not needed, the rain is quite sufficient to demolish them. Thus we can visualize these famous sites covered, according to tradition, with immense cities of which nothing remains but ruins of temples and palaces and mounds scattered over the plains. "In a few years whole districts vanish without leaving a trace, if the houses are not kept in repair. As all the cities of Persia are constructed after the same plan and of the same material, it is easy to visualize Zanjan with her crenellated walls with high towers, her crooked streets unpaved and full of ruts. In the midst of these rose a formidable citadel called 'Chateau d''Ali-Mardan Khan.'" (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 197-198.)]

The enemy was meanwhile preparing for a violent attack upon them. No sooner had a detachment of their forces opened fire upon the barricades the companions had raised than Mir Rida, a siyyid of exceptional courage, asked his leader to allow him to attempt to capture the governor and to bring him as a prisoner to the fort. Hujjat, unwilling to comply with his request, advised him not to risk his life.

The governor was so overcome with fear when informed of that siyyid's intention that he decided to leave Zanjan immediately. He was, however, dissuaded from taking that course by a certain siyyid who pleaded that his departure would be the signal for grave disturbances such as would disgrace him in the sight of his superiors. The siyyid himself <p546> set out, as evidence of his earnestness, to launch an offensive against the occupants of the fort. He had no sooner given the signal for attack and advanced at the head of a band of thirty of his comrades, than he unexpectedly encountered two of his adversaries who were marching with drawn swords towards him. Believing that they intended to assail him, he, with the whole of his band, was suddenly seized with panic, straightway regained his home, and, forgetful of the assurances he had given to the governor, remained the whole day closeted within his room. Those who were with him promptly dispersed, renouncing the thought of pursuing the attack. They were subsequently informed that the two men they had encountered had no hostile intention against them, but were simply on their way to fulfil a commission with which they had been entrusted.

That humiliating episode was soon followed by a number of similar attempts on the part of the supporters of the governor, all of which utterly failed to achieve their purpose. Every time they rushed to attack the fort, Hujjat would order a few of his companions, who were three thousand in number, to emerge from their retreat and scatter their forces. He never failed, every time he gave them such orders, to caution his fellow-disciples against shedding unnecessarily the blood of their assailants. He constantly reminded them that their action was of a purely defensive character, and that their sole purpose was to preserve inviolate the security of their women and children. "We are commanded," he was frequently heard to observe, "not to wage holy war under any circumstances against the unbelievers, whatever be their attitude towards us."

This state of affairs continued [1] until the orders of the <p547> Amir-Nizam reached one of the generals of the imperial army, Sadru'd-Dawliy-i-Isfahani by name,[2] who had set out at the head of two regiments for Adhirbayjan. The written orders of the Grand Vazir reached him in Khamsih, bidding him cancel his projected journey and proceed immediately to Zanjan and there give his assistance to the forces that had been mustered by the government. "You have been commissioned by your sovereign," the Amir-Nizam wrote him, "to subjugate the band of mischief-makers in and around Zanjan. It is your privilege to crush their hopes and exterminate their forces. So signal a service, at so critical a moment, will win for you the Shah's highest favour, no less than the applause and esteem of his people."

[1 "He [the governor of Zanjan] fearing for himself at once took measures to safeguard his authority and forwarded to Mirza Muhammad-Taqi Khan Amir-i-Kabir a garbled account of the affair; for he was fearful lest another should acquire more influence than he possessed and so his authority and consideration should be weakened. In consequence of his representations Siyyid Ali Khan Lieutenant-Colonel of Firuz-Kuh received the royal command to proceed with a numerous body of horse and foot to Zanjan, and to arrest Mulla Muhammad-'Ali, who had retired with his followers (nearly five thousand in number) to the citadel. On his arrival Siyyid Ali Khan laid siege to the citadel and thus was the fire of strife kindled, and day by day the number of those slain on either side increased until at length he suffered an ignominious defeat and was obliged to ask for reinforcements from the capital. The government wished to send Ja'far-Quli Khan, Lieutenant-Colonel, the brother of I'timadu'd-Dawlih, but he excused himself, and said to Mirza Taqi Khan Amir-i-Kabir: 'I'm not an Ibn-i-Ziyad to go and make war on a band of siyyids and men of learning of whose tenets I know nothing, though I should be ready enough to fight Russians Jews or other infidels.' Other officers besides him showed a disinclination to take part in this war. Amongst these was Mir Siyyid Husayn Khan of Firuz-Kuh, whom Mirza Taqi Khan the Amir dismissed and disgraced as soon as he became acquainted with his sentiments. So also many of the officers who were of the sect of the Aliyu'llahis, although they went to the war withdrew from it when they learned more of the matter. For their chief had forbidden them to fight, and therefore they fled. For it is written in their books that when the soldiers of Guran shall come to the capital of the king then the Lord of the Age (whom they call God) shall appear; and this prophecy was now accomplished. They also possess certain poems which contain the date of the Manifestation, and these too came true. So they were convinced that this was the Truth become manifest, and begged to be excused from taking part in the war, which thing they declared themselves unable to do. And to the Babis they said: 'In subsequent conflicts, when the framework of your religion shall have gathered strength, we will help you.' In short, when the officers of the army perceived in their opponents naught but devotion, godliness, and piety, some wavered in secret and did not put forth their full strength in the war." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 138-43.)]

[2 According to Gobineau (p. 198), he was the grandson of Haji Muhammad Husayn Khan-i-Isfahani.]

This encouraging farman stirred the imagination of the ambitious Sadru'd-Dawlih. He marched instantly on Zanjan at the head of his two regiments, organised the forces which the governor placed at his disposal, and gave orders for a combined attack upon the fort and its defenders.[1] The <p548> contest raged in the environs of the fort three days and three nights, in the course of which the besieged, under the direction of Hujjat, resisted with splendid daring the fierce onslaught of their assailants. Neither their overwhelming numbers nor the superiority of their equipment and training could enable them to reduce the intrepid companions to an unconditional surrender.[2] Undeterred by the fire of the cannon with which they were deluged, and forgetful of both sleep and hunger, they rushed in a headlong charge out of the fort, utterly unmindful of the perils incurred by such a sally. To the imprecations with which an opposing host greeted their appearance from their retreat, they shouted their answer of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!" and, carried away by the spell which that invocation threw upon them, hurled themselves upon the enemy and scattered his forces. The frequency and success of these sallies demoralised their assailants and convinced them of the futility of their efforts. They were soon compelled to acknowledge their powerlessness to win a decisive victory. Sadru'd-Dawlih himself had to confess that after the lapse of nine months of sustained fighting, all the men who had originally belonged to his two regiments, no more than thirty crippled soldiers were left to support him. Filled with humiliation, he was forced, eventually, to admit his powerlessness to daunt the spirit of his opponents. He was degraded from his rank and gravely reprimanded by his sovereign. The hopes he had fondly cherished were, as the result of that defeat, irretrievably shattered.

[1 "On the fourth day, the Muhammadans saw with great joy Sadru'd-Dawlih, grandson of Haji Muhammad-Husayn Khan of Isfahan, enter their section of the city coming from Sultaniyyih, at the head of the tribe of Khamsih. For several days thereafter, reinforcements arrived in great numbers. First of all, Siyyid Ali Khan and Shahbar Khan, one from Firuz-Kuh, the other from Maraghih, with two hundred horsemen from their respective tribes. After them came Muhammad-'Ali Khan-i-Shah-Sun with two hundred mounted afshars; fifty artillerymen with two field guns and two mortars, so that the governor was provided with as much assistance as he could have wished and surrounded with a goodly number of military chieftains, among whom were several who were famous throughout the country." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," 198-199.) "One of the most terrible encounters related in the journal of the siege, is the one which took place on the fifth of Ramadan. Mustafa Khan, Qajar, with the fifteenth regiment of Shigaghi Sadru'd-Dawlih with his horsemen of Khamsih; Siyyid Ali Khan of Firuz-Kuh with his own regiment; Muhammad Aqa, colonel, with the regiment of Nasir called the royal regiment; Muhammad-'Ali Khan with the Afshar cavalry; Major Nabi Big with his cavalry and a troop made up of loyal citizens of Zanjan; all these men at dawn attacked the fortifications of the Babis. The resistance of the Babis was magnificent but disastrous. They saw their best leaders fall, one after another, leaders brave and true, saints who could not be replaced: Nur-'Ali the hunter; Bakhsh-'Ali the carpenter; Khudadad and Fathu'llah Big, all indispensable to the attainment of victory. They all fell, some in the morning and others in the evening." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 200.)]

[2 "I have seen at Zanjan the ruins of that fierce encounter; whole sections of the city have not yet been rebuilt and probably never will be. Some of those who took part in the tragedy have related to me upon the very spot certain incidents: the Babis ascended and descended the terraces while carrying their cannon with them. Sometimes the earthen floor, not very firm, gave way and they had to raise the heavy gun again by dint of man power and had to prop the ground up with beams. When the enemy approached the crowd surrounded the guns with enthusiasm, all arms extended to lift them up and, when the carriers fell under the bullets of the assailants, a hundred comrades vied with each other for the honor of replacing them. Assuredly this was true faith!" (Ibid., pp. 200-201.)] <p549>

So abject a defeat struck dismay into the hearts of the people of Zanjan. Few were willing, after that disaster, to risk their lives in hopeless encounters. Only those who were compelled to fight ventured to renew their attacks upon the besieged. The brunt of the struggle was mainly borne by the regiments which were being successively despatched from Tihran for that purpose. While the inhabitants of the town, and particularly the merchant class among them, profited greatly by the sudden influx of such a large number of forces, the companions of Hujjat suffered want and privation within the walls of the fort. Their supplies dwindled rapidly; their only hope of receiving any food from outside lay in the efforts, often unsuccessful, of a few women who could manage, under various pretexts, to approach the fort and sell them at an exorbitant price the provisions they so sadly needed.

Though oppressed with hunger and harassed by fierce and sudden onsets, they maintained with unflinching determination the defence of the fort. Sustained by a hope that no amount of adversity could dim, they succeeded in erecting no less than twenty-eight barricades, each of which was entrusted to the care of a group of nineteen of their fellow-disciples. At each barricade, nineteen additional companions were stationed as sentinels, whose function it was to watch and report the movements of the enemy.

They were frequently surprised by the voice of the crier whom the enemy sent to the neighbourhood of the fort to induce its occupants to desert Hujjat and his Cause. "The governor of the province," he would proclaim, "and the commander-in-chief too, are willing to forgive and extend a safe passage to whoever among you will decide to leave the fort and renounce his faith. Such a man will be amply rewarded by his sovereign, who, in addition to lavishing gifts upon him, will invest him with the dignity of noble rank. Both the Shah and his representatives have pledged their honour not to depart from the promise they have given." To this call the besieged would, with one voice, return contemptuous and decisive replies.

Further evidence of the spirit of sublime renunciation animating those valiant companions was afforded by the behaviour of a village maiden, who, of her own accord, threw <p550> in her lot with the band of women and children who had joined the defenders of the fort. Her name was Zaynab, her home a tiny hamlet in the near neighbourhood of Zanjan. She was comely and fair of face, was fired with a lofty faith, and endowed with intrepid courage. The sight of the trials and hardships which her men companions were made to endure stirred in her an irrepressible yearning to disguise herself in male attire and share in repulsing the repeated attacks of the enemy. Donning a tunic and wearing a head-dress like those of her men companions, she cut off her locks, girt on a sword, and, seizing a musket and a shield, introduced herself into their ranks. No one suspected her of being a maid when she leaped forward to take her place behind the barricade. As soon as the enemy charged, she bared her sword and, raising the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!" flung herself with incredible audacity upon the forces arrayed against her. Friend and foe marvelled that day at a courage and resourcefulness the equal of which their eyes had scarcely ever beheld. Her enemies pronounced her the curse which an angry Providence had hurled upon them. Overwhelmed with despair and abandoning their barricades, they fled in disgraceful rout before her.

Hujjat, who was watching the movements of the enemy from one of the turrets, recognized her and marvelled at the prowess which that maiden was displaying. She had set out in pursuit of her assailants, when he ordered his men to bid her return to the fort and give up the attempt. "No man," he was heard to say, as he saw her plunge into the fire directed upon her by the enemy, "has shown himself capable of such vitality and courage." When questioned by him as to the motive of her behaviour, she burst into tears and said: "My heart ached with pity and sorrow when I beheld the toil and sufferings of my fellow-disciples. I advanced by an inner urge I could not resist. I was afraid lest you would deny me the privilege of throwing in my lot with my men companions." "You are surely the same Zaynab," Hujjat asked her, "who volunteered to join the occupants of the fort?" "I am," she replied. "I can confidently assure you that no one has hitherto discovered my sex. You alone have recognized me. I adjure you by the Bab not to withhold <p551> from me that inestimable privilege, the crown of martyrdom, the one desire of my life."

Hujjat was profoundly impressed by the tone and manner of her appeal. He sought to calm the tumult of her soul, assured her of his prayers in her behalf, and gave her the name Rustam-'Ali as a mark of her noble courage. "This is the Day of Resurrection," he told her, "the day when 'all secrets shall be searched out.'[1] Not by their outward appearance, but by the character of their beliefs and the manner of their lives, does God judge His creatures, be they men or women. Though a maiden of tender age and immature experience, you have displayed such vitality and resource as few men could hope to surpass." He granted her request, and warned her not to exceed the bounds their Faith had imposed upon them. "We are called upon to defend our lives," he reminded her, "against a treacherous assailant, and not to wage holy war against him."

[1 Qur'an, 86:9.]

For a period of no less than five months, that maiden continued to withstand with unrivalled heroism the forces of the enemy. Disdainful of food and sleep, she toiled with fevered earnestness for the Cause she most loved. She quickened, by the example of her splendid daring, the courage of the few who wavered, and reminded them of the duty each was expected to fulfil. The sword she wielded remained, throughout that period, by her side. In the brief intervals of sleep she was able to obtain, she was seen with her head resting upon her sword and her shield serving as a covering for her body. Every one of her companions was assigned to a particular post which he was expected to guard and defend, while that fearless maid alone was free to move in whatever direction she pleased. Always in the thick and forefront of the turmoil that raged round her, Zaynab was ever ready to rush to the rescue of whatever post the assailant was threatening, and to lend her assistance to any one of those who needed either her encouragement or support. As the end of her life approached, her enemies discovered her secret, and continued, despite their knowledge that she was a maid, to dread her influence and to tremble at her approach. The <p552> shrill sound of her voice was sufficient to strike consternation into their hearts and to fill them with despair.

One day, seeing that her companions were being suddenly enveloped by the forces of the enemy, Zaynab ran in distress to Hujjat and, flinging herself at his feet, implored him, with tearful eyes, to allow her to rush forth to their aid. "My life, I feel, is nearing its end," she added. "I may myself fall beneath the sword of the assailant. Forgive, I entreat you, my trespasses, and intercede for me with my Master, for whose sake I yearn to lay down my life."

Hujjat was too much overcome with emotion to reply. Encouraged by his silence, which she interpreted to mean that he consented to grant her appeal, she leaped out of the gate and, raising seven times the cry "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!" rushed to stay the hand that had already slain a number of her companions. "Why befoul by your deeds the fair name of Islam?" she shouted, as she flung herself upon them. "Why flee abjectly from before our face, if you be speakers of truth?" She ran to the barricades which the enemy had erected, routed those who guarded the first three of the defences, and was engaging in overcoming the fourth, when, beneath a shower of bullets, she dropped dead upon the ground. Not a single voice among her opponents dared question her chastity or ignore the sublimity of her faith and the enduring traits of her character. Such was her devotion that after her death no less than twenty women of her acquaintance embraced the Cause of the Bab. To them she had ceased to be the peasant girl they had known; she was the very incarnation of the noblest principles of human conduct, a living embodiment of the spirit which only a Faith such as hers could manifest.

The messengers who acted as intermediaries between Hujjat and his companions were one day directed to inform the guards of the barricades to carry out the Bab's injunction to His followers and to repeat nineteen times, each night, each of the following invocations: "Allah-u-Akbar,"[1] "Allah-u-A'zam,"[2] "Allah-u-Ajmal,"[3] "Allah-u-Abha,"[4] and "Allah-u-Athar."[5] The very night the behest was received, all the <p553> defenders of the barricades joined in shouting those words simultaneously. So loud and compelling was that cry that the enemy was rudely awakened from sleep, abandoned the camp in horror, and, hurrying to the environs of the governor's residence, sought shelter in the neighbouring houses. A few were so shocked with terror that they instantly dropped dead. A considerable number of the inhabitants of Zanjan fled, panic-stricken, to the adjoining villages. Many believed that stupendous uproar to be a sign heralding the Day of Judgment; to others it signified the sending forth, on the part of Hujjat, of a fresh summons which they felt would be the prelude to a sudden offensive against them more terrible than any they had yet experienced.

[1 "God the Great."]

[2 "God the Most Great."]

[3 "God the Most Beauteous."]

[4 "God the Most Glorious."]

[5 "God the Most Pure."]

"What," Hujjat was heard to remark, when informed of the terror that sudden invocation had inspired, "if I had been permitted by my Master to wage holy war against these cowardly miscreants! I am bidden by Him to instil into men's hearts the ennobling principles of charity and love, and to refrain from all unnecessary violence. My aim and that of my companions is, and ever will be, to serve our sovereign loyally and to be the well-wishers of his people. Had I chosen to follow in the footsteps of the ulamas of Zanjan, I should, as long as I live, have continued to remain the object of the slavish adoration of this people. Never shall I be willing to barter for all the treasures and honours this world can give me, the undying loyalty I bear His Cause."

The memory of that night still lingers in the minds of those who experienced its awe and terror. I have heard several eye-witnesses express in glowing terms the contrast between the tumult and disorder that reigned in the camp of the enemy and the atmosphere of reverent devotion that filled the fort. While those in the fort were invoking the name of God and praying for His guidance and mercy, their opponents, officers and men alike, were absorbed in acts of debauchery and shame. Though worn and exhausted, the occupants of the fort continued to observe their vigils and chant such anthems as the Bab had instructed them to repeat. The camp of the enemy at that same hour resounded with peals of noisy laughter, with imprecations and blasphemies. That night in particular, no sooner had the invocation <p554> pealed out than the dissolute officers, who were holding their wine-glasses in their hands, dropped them instantly to the ground and rushed out headlong, in bare feet, as if stunned by that stentorian outcry. Gambling tables were overturned in the midst of the disorder that ensued. Half dressed and bareheaded, a number ran out into the wilderness, while others betook themselves in haste to the homes of the ulamas and roused them from their sleep. Alarmed and overawed, these began to direct their fiercest invectives against one another for having kindled the fire of such great mischief.

As soon as the enemy had discovered the purpose of that loud clamour, they returned to their posts, reassured, though greatly humiliated, by their experience. The officers directed a certain number of their men to lie in ambush and to fire in any direction from which those voices might again proceed. Every night they succeeded in this way in slaying a number of the companions. Undeterred by the losses they were repeatedly sustaining, Hujjat's supporters continued to raise, with undiminished fervour, their invocation, despising the perils which the offering of the prayer involved. As their number diminished, that prayer grew louder and acquired added poignancy. Even the imminence of death was powerless to induce the intrepid defenders of the fort to give up what they deemed the noblest and most powerful reminder of their Beloved.

The contest was still raging when Hujjat was moved to address his written message to Nasiri'd-Din Shah. "The subjects of your Imperial Majesty," he wrote him, "regard you both as their temporal ruler and as the supreme custodian of their Faith. They appeal to you for justice, and look upon you as the supreme protector of their rights. Our controversy primarily concerned the ulamas of Zanjan only, and under no circumstances involved either your government or people. I myself was summoned by your predecessor to Tihran and was requested by him to set forth the basic claims of my Faith. The late Shah was entirely satisfied, and highly commended my efforts. I resigned myself to leave my home and settle in Tihran, with no other intention than that of abating the fury that raged round my person and of <p555> extinguishing the fire which the mischief-makers had kindled. Though free to return to my home, I preferred to remain in the capital, wholly relying upon the justice of my sovereign. In the early days of your reign, the Amir-Nizam, while the Mazindaran upheaval was still in progress, suspected me of treason and determined to destroy my life. Finding no one in Tihran able to protect me, I determined, in self-defence to flee to Zanjan, where I resumed my labours and strove with all my might to advance the true interest of Islam. I was pursuing my work when Majdu'd-Dawlih arose against me. I several times appealed to him to exercise moderation and justice, but he refused to grant my request. Instigated by the ulamas of Zanjan, and encouraged by the adulation they lavished upon him, he determined to arrest me. My friends intervened and attempted to stay his hand. He continued to rouse the people against me, and they in their turn have acted in a manner that has led to the present situation. Your Majesty has until now refrained from extending his gracious assistance to us, who are the innocent victims of such ferocious cruelty. Our enemies have even sought to represent our Cause, in the eyes of your Majesty, as a conspiracy against the authority with which you have been invested. Surely every unbiased observer will readily admit that we cherish in our hearts no such intention. Our sole aim is to advance the best interests of your government and people. I and my principal companions hold ourselves in readiness to leave for Tihran, that we may, in your presence as well as in that of our chief opponents, establish the soundness of our Cause."

Not content with his own petition, he bade his leading supporters address similar appeals to the Shah and stress his request for justice.

No sooner had the messenger who was carrying those petitions to Tihran set out on his way than he was seized and brought back into the presence of the governor. Infuriated by the action of his opponents, he ordered the messenger to be immediately put to death. He destroyed the petitions and in their stead wrote the Shah letters which he loaded with abuse and insult, and, adding the signatures of Hujjat and his chief companions, despatched them to Tihran. <p556>

The Shah was so indignant after the perusal of these insolent petitions that he gave orders for the immediate despatch of two regiments equipped with guns and munitions to Zanjan, commanding that not one supporter of Hujjat be allowed to survive.

The news of the Bab's martyrdom had meanwhile reached the hard-pressed occupants of the fort through Siyyid Hasan, brother of Siyyid Husayn, the Bab's amanuensis, who had arrived from Adhirbayjan on his way to Qazvin. The news spread among the enemy and was welcomed by them with shouts of wild delight. They hastened to ridicule and hurl their taunts at the efforts of His adherents. "For what reason," they cried in haughty scorn, "will you henceforth be willing to sacrifice yourselves? He in whose path you long to lay down your lives, has himself fallen a victim to the bullets of a triumphant foe. His body is even now lost both to his enemies and to his friends. Why persist in your stubbornness when a word is sufficient to deliver you from your woes?" However much they strove to shake the confidence of the bereaved community, they failed, in the end, to induce the feeblest among them either to desert the fort or to recant his Faith.

The Amir-Nizam was meanwhile urging his sovereign to

despatch further reinforcements to Zanjan. Muhammad

Khan, the Amir-Tuman, at the head of five regiments and

equipped with a considerable amount of arms and munitions,

was finally commissioned to demolish the fort and wipe out

its occupants.

During the twenty days that hostilities were suspended, Aziz Khan-i-Mukri, surnamed Sardar-i-Kull, who was on a military mission to Iravan,[1] arrived at Zanjan and succeeded in meeting Hujjat through his host, Siyyid Ali Khan. The latter related to Aziz Khan the circumstances of a touching interview he had had with Hujjat, when he had obtained all the information he required regarding the intentions and proposals of the besieged. "Should the government," Hujjat <p557> had told him, "refuse to entertain my appeal, I am willing, with its permission, to depart with my family to a place beyond the confines of this land. Should it refuse to grant even this request and persist in attacking us, we should feel constrained to arise and defend ourselves." Aziz Khan assured Siyyid Ali Khan that he would do all in his power to induce the authorities to effect a speedy solution of this problem. No sooner had Siyyid Ali Khan retired than Aziz Khan was surprised by the farrash [2] of the Amir-Nizam, who had come to arrest Siyyid Ali Khan and to conduct him to the capital. He was seized with great fear and, in order to avert any suspicion from himself, began to abuse Hujjat and to denounce him openly before the farrash. By this means he was able to ward off the danger that threatened his own life.

[1 According to Gobineau (p. 202), Aziz Khan was "general-in-chief of the troops of Adhirbayjan and then first aide-de-camp of the king. He was passing through Zanjan, on his way to Tiflis, to congratulate the grand duke, heir apparent of Russia, on the occasion of his arrival in Caucasia."]

[2 See Glossary.]

The arrival of the Amir-Tuman was the signal for the resumption of hostilities on a scale such as Zanjan had never before experienced. Seventeen regiments of cavalry and infantry had rallied to his standard, and fought under his command. [1] No less than fourteen guns were, at his orders, directed against the fort. Five additional regiments, which the Amir had recruited from the neighbourhood, were being trained by him as reinforcements. The very night he arrived, he issued orders that the trumpets be sounded as a signal for the resumption of the attack. The officers in charge of his artillery were commanded to open fire instantly upon the besieged. The booming of the cannons, which could be heard distinctly at a distance of about fourteen farsangs, [2] had scarcely begun when Hujjat ordered his companions to make use of the two guns they themselves had constructed. One of them was transported to a high position commanding the Amir's headquarters. A ball struck his tent and mortally <p558> wounded his steed. The enemy was meanwhile directing, with unrelenting fury, its fire upon the fort, and had succeeded in killing a large number of its occupants.

[1 "Muhammad Khan, then Bigliyirbigi and Mir-panj, or general of the division, today become Amir-Tuman, joined the troops already engaged in this city; he brought them three thousand men of the regiments of Shigaghi and certain regiments of the guards with six cannon and two mortars. Almost at the same time Qasim Khan arrived from the frontier of Karabagh, entering Zanjan from another quarter, and the major Arslan Khan with cavalry from Khirghan, and Ali-Agbar, captain of Khuy, arrived with infantry. For each one had received orders from the king and they were all hastening to comply." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 201.)]

[2 See Glossary.]

As the days-went by; it became increasingly evident that the forces under the command of the Amir-Tuman, in spite of their great superiority in number, equipment, and training, were unable to achieve the victory they had fondly anticipated. The death of Farrukh Khan, son of Yahya Khan and brother of Haji Sulayman Khan, one of the generals of the enemy's army, aroused the indignation of the Amir-Nizam, who addressed a strongly worded communication to the commanding officer, reprimanding him for his failure to force the besieged to an unconditional surrender. "You have sullied the fair name of our country," he wrote him, "have demoralised the army, and have wasted the lives of its ablest officers." He was bidden enforce the strictest discipline among his subordinates and cleanse his camp from every stain of debauchery and vice. He was, moreover, urged to take counsel with the chiefs of the people of Zanjan, and was warned that, failing to achieve his end, he would be degraded from his position. "If your combined endeavours," he added, "prove powerless to force their submission, I myself will proceed to Zanjan, and will order a wholesale massacre of its inhabitants, irrespective of their position or belief. A town that can bring so much humiliation to the Shah and distress to his people is utterly unworthy of the clemency of our sovereign."

In a frenzy of despair, the Amir-Tuman summoned all the kad-khudas [1] and chiefs of the people, showed them the text of that letter, and by his earnest entreaties succeeded in rousing them to immediate action. The next day every able-bodied man in Zanjan had enlisted under the Amir-Tuman's standard. Headed by their kad-khudas and preceded by four regiments, a vast multitude of people marched, to the sound of a flourish of trumpets and the beating of drums, in the direction of the fort. Undaunted by their clamour, the companions of Hujjat raised simultaneously the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!" then poured out of the gates and flung themselves upon them. That encounter was the fiercest and most desperate engagement that had yet <p559> been experienced. The flower of Hujjat's supporters fell on that day, victims to a ruthless carnage. Many a son was butchered in circumstances of unbridled cruelty under the eyes of his mother, while sisters gazed with horror and anguish upon the heads of their brothers raised on spears and brutally disfigured by the weapons of their foes. In the midst of a tumult in which the boisterous enthusiasm of the companions of Hujjat faced the fury and barbarism of an exasperated enemy, the voices of women, who were struggling side by side with the men, could be heard from time to time, animating the zeal of their fellow-disciples. The victory that was miraculously achieved on that day was, in no small measure, attributable to the shouts of exultation which those women raised in the face of a mighty foe, shouts which acquired added poignancy by their own acts of heroism and self-sacrifice. Disguised in the garb of men, some had rushed forward, in their eagerness to supplant their fallen brethren, while the rest were seen carrying on their shoulders skins full of water, with which they strove to allay the thirst, and revive the strength, of the wounded. Confusion reigned meanwhile in the camp of the enemy. Deprived of water, and distressed by defection in their ranks, they fought a losing battle, unable to retreat and impotent to conquer. No less than three hundred companions quaffed, that day, the cup of martyrdom.

[1 See Glossary.]

One of Hujjat's supporters was a man named Muhsin, whose function it was to sound the adhan.[1] His voice was endowed with a quality of warmth and richness that no man in the neighbourhood could equal. Its reverberation, as he summoned the faithful to prayer, could be distinctly felt as far as the adjoining villages, and penetrated the hearts of those who heard it. Oftentimes did the worshippers in that vicinity, in whose ears the voice of Muhsin was ringing, express their indignation at the charges of heresy imputed to Hujjat and his friends. So loud grew their protestations that they eventually reached the ears of the leading mujtahid of Zanjan, who, unable himself to impose silence upon them, implored the Amir-Tuman to devise some means of eradicating from the minds of the people the belief in the piety <p560> and uprightness of Hujjat and his companions. "Day and night," he complained, "I strive through my public discourse, no less than by private converse with the people, to instil into their minds the conviction that that wretched band is the sworn enemy of the Prophet and the wrecker of His Faith. The cry of that evil man, Muhsin, robs my words of their influence and nullifies my exertions. To exterminate that miserable wretch is surely your first obligation."

[1 See Glossary.]

The Amir refused at first to entertain his appeal. "You and your like," he replied, "are to be held responsible for having declared the necessity of waging holy war against them. We are but the servants of the government, and our duty is to obey the orders we receive. If you seek, however, to put an end to his life, you should be prepared to make the proper sacrifice." The siyyid immediately understood the purpose of the Amir's allusion. He had no sooner regained his house than he sent him, by the hand of a messenger, the gift of a hundred tumans.[1]

[1 See Glossary.]

The Amir promptly ordered a number of his men, who were famed for their marksmanship, to lie in wait for Muhsin and shoot him when in the act of prayer. It was the hour of dawn when, as he raised the cry of "La Ilah-a-Illa'llah,"[1] a bullet struck him in the mouth and killed him instantly. Hujjat, as soon as he was informed of that cruel act, ordered another of his companions to ascend the turret and continue the prayer from where Muhsin had left off. Though his life was spared until the cessation of hostilities, he, together with certain of his brethren, was made to suffer, eventually, a death no less atrocious than that of his fellow-disciple.

[1 There is no God but God.]

As the days of the siege were drawing to a close, Hujjat urged all those who were betrothed to celebrate their nuptials. For each unmarried youth among the besieged he chose a spouse, and, within the limits of the means at his disposal, contributed from his own purse whatever could add to the comfort and gladness of the newly married. He sold all the jewels his wife possessed, and, with the money, provided whatever could be obtained to bring happiness and pleasure to those he had joined in wedlock. During more than three months these festivities continued, festivities which were <p561> intermingled with the terrors and hardships of a long-protracted siege. How often did the clamour of an advancing foe drown the acclamations of joy with which bride and bridegroom greeted each other! How suddenly was the voice of merriment stilled by the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!" that summoned the faithful to arise and repulse the invader! With what tenderness would the bride entreat the bridegroom to tarry awhile longer beside her ere he rushed forth to win the crown of martyrdom! "I can spare no time," he would reply. "I must hasten to obtain the crown of glory. We shall surely meet again on the shores of the great Beyond, the home of a blissful and eternal reunion."

No less than two hundred youths were joined in wedlock during those tumultuous days. Some a month, others a few days, and still others for but a brief moment, were able to tarry undisturbed in the company of their brides; no one among them failed, as the beating of the drum announced the hour of his departure, to respond joyously to the call. Each and every one ungrudgingly offered himself as a sacrifice for his true Beloved; all drank, eventually, the cup of martyrdom. No wonder the spot that has been the theatre of untold sufferings and has witnessed such heroism has been named Ard-i-A'la [1] by the Bab, a title that has remained for all time linked with His own blessed name.

[1 "The Exalted Spot," title given to Zanjan by the Bab.]

Among the companions was a certain Karbila'i Abdu'l-Baqi, the father of seven sons, five of whom Hujjat joined in wedlock. The nuptial ceremonies were hardly at an end when cries of terror suddenly announced the resumption of a fresh offensive against them. They sprang to their feet and, forsaking their loved ones, instantly rushed out to repulse the invader. All five fell in turn in the course of that encounter. The eldest of them, a youth greatly esteemed for his intelligence, and of renowned courage, was captured and conducted into the presence of the Amir-Tuman. "Lay him upon the ground," cried the infuriated Amir, "and kindle upon his breast, which dared nourish so great a love for Hujjat, a fire that shall consume it." "Wretched man," burst forth the undaunted youth, "no flame that the hands of your men are able to kindle, could destroy the love that <p562> glows in my heart." The praise of his Beloved lingered on his lips until the last moment of his life.

Among the women who distinguished themselves by the tenacity of their faith was one named Umm-i-Ashraf,[1] who was newly married when the storm of Zanjan broke out. She was within the fort when she gave birth to her son Ashraf. Both mother and child survived the massacre that marked the closing stages of that tragedy. Years afterwards, when her son had grown into a youth of great promise, he was involved in the persecutions that afflicted brethren. Unable to persuade him to recant, his enemies endeavoured to alarm his mother and convince her of the necessity of saving him, ere it was too late, from his fate. "I will disown you as my son," cried the mother, when brought face to face with him, "if you incline your heart to such evil whisperings and allow them to turn you away from the Truth." Faithful to his mother's admonitions, Ashraf met his death with intrepid calm. Though herself a witness to the cruelties inflicted on her son, she made no lamentation, neither did she shed a tear. This marvellous mother showed a courage and fortitude that amazed the perpetrators of that shameless deed. "I have now in mind," she exclaimed, as she cast a parting glance at the corpse of her son, "the vow I made on <p563> the day of your birth, while besieged in the fort of Ali-Mardan Khan. I rejoice that you, the only son whom God gave me, have enabled me to redeem that pledge."

[1 "Mother of Ashraf."]

My pen is powerless to portray, much less to render befitting tribute to, the consuming enthusiasm that glowed in those valiant hearts. Violent as were the winds of adversity they were powerless to quench its flame. Men and women laboured with unabating fervour to strengthen the defences of the fort and reconstruct whatever the enemy had demolished. What leisure they could obtain was consecrated to prayer. I very thought, every desire, was subordinated to the paramount necessity of guarding their stronghold against the onslaughts of the assailant. The part the women played in these operations was no less arduous than that accomplished by their men companions. Every woman, irrespective of rank and age, joined with energy in the common task. They sewed the garments, baked the bread, ministered to the sick and wounded, repaired the barricades, cleared away from the courts and terraces the balls and missiles fired upon them by the enemy, and, last but not least, cheered the faint in heart and animated the faith of the wavering.[1] Even the children joined in giving whatever assistance was in their power to the common cause, and seemed to be fired by an enthusiasm no less remarkable than that which their fathers and mothers displayed.

[1 "The desperate resistance offered by the Babis must therefore be attributed less to the strength of the position which they occupied than to the extraordinary valour with which they defended themselves even the women took part in the defence, and I subsequently heard it stated on good authority that like the Carthaginian women of old, they cut off their long hair and bound it round the crazy guns to afford them the necessary support." (E. G. Browne's "A Year amongst the Persians," p. 74.)]

Such was the spirit of solidarity that characterised their labours, and such the heroism of their acts, that the enemy was led to believe their number was no less than ten thousand. It was generally conceded that a continual supply of provisions found its way, in an unaccountable manner, to the fort, and that fresh reinforcements were being steadily despatched from Nayriz, from Khurasan, and from Tabriz. The power of the besieged seemed to them as unshakable as ever, their resources inexhaustible.

The Amir-Tuman, exasperated by their unyielding tenacity <p564> and spurred by the rebukes and protestations of the authorities in Tihran, determined to resort to the abject weapons of treachery in order to exact the complete submission of the besieged.[1] Firmly convinced of the futility of his efforts to face his opponents in the field honourably, he craftily called for the suspension of hostilities, and gave currency to the report that the Shah had decided to abandon the whole enterprise. He represented his sovereign as having, from the very beginning, discountenanced the idea of extending his support to the forces that fought in Mazindaran and Nayriz, and of having deplored the shedding of so much blood for so insignificant a cause. The people of Zanjan and the surrounding villages were led to believe that Nasiri'd-Din Shah had actually ordered the Amir-Tuman to negotiate a friendly settlement of the issues between him and Hujjat, and that it was his intention to put an end, as speedily as possible, to this unhappy state of affairs.

[1 "Decidedly the situation was becoming critical for the Muhammadans and it looked as though they would never overcome such a tenacious resistance. Moreover, why take so much trouble? Why endanger uselessly the lives,--not of the soldiers, mere cannon fodder they,--but those of the officers and the generals? Why expose oneself daily to ridicule and to defeat? Why not follow the example of Shaykh Tabarsi? Why not resort to deceit? Why not make the most sacred promises, even though it might later become necessary to massacre those gullibles who had put their trust in them?" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 350.)]

Assured that the people had been deceived by his cunning plot, he drew up an appeal for peace, in which he assured Hujjat of the sincerity of his intention of achieving a lasting settlement between him and his supporters. He accompanied that declaration with a sealed copy of the Qur'an, as a testimony of the sacredness of his pledge. "My sovereign," he added, "has forgiven you. You, as well as your followers, I hereby solemnly declare to be under the protection of his Imperial Majesty. This Book of God is my witness that if any of you decide to come out of the fort, you will be safe from any danger."

Hujjat reverently received the Qur'an from the hand of the messenger, and, as soon as he had read the appeal, bade its bearer inform his master that he would send an answer in the course of the following day. That night he gathered together his chief companions and spoke to them of the misgivings he entertained as to the sincerity of the enemy's declarations. "The treacheries of Mazindaran and of Nayriz <p565> are still vivid in our minds. That which was perpetrated against them, the same they purpose to perpetrate against us. In deference to the Qur'an, however, we shall respond to their invitation, and shall despatch to their camp a number of our companions, that thereby their deceitfulness may be exposed."

I have heard Ustad Mihr-'Aliy-i-Haddad, who survived the massacre of Zanjan, relate the following: "I was one of the nine children, none of whom were more than ten years old, who accompanied the delegation sent by Hujjat to the Amir-Tuman. The rest were men of over eighty years of age. Among them were Karbila'i Mawla-Quli-Aqa-Dadash, Darvish-Salah, Muhammad-Rahim, and Muhammad. Darvish-Salah was a most impressive figure, tall of stature, white-bearded, and of singular beauty. He was greatly esteemed for his honourable and just conduct. His intervention on behalf of the downtrodden invariably received the consideration and sympathy of the authorities concerned. He renounced, after his conversion, all the honours he had received, and, though far advanced in age, enrolled himself among the defenders of the fort. He marched before us carrying the sealed Qur'an as we were led into the presence of the Amir-Tuman.

"Reaching his tent, we stood at its entrance awaiting his orders. To our salute he gave no response, and treated us with marked contempt. He kept us standing half an hour before he deigned to address us in a tone of severe reprimand. 'A meaner and more shameless people than you,' he cried in haughty scorn, 'has never been seen!' He had hurled his denunciations at us when one of the companions, the oldest and feeblest among them, begged to be allowed to say a few words to him, and, on obtaining his permission, spoke, unlettered though he was, in a manner that could not fail to excite our profound admiration. 'God knows,' he pleaded, 'that we are, and will ever remain, loyal and law-abiding subjects of our sovereign, with no other desire than to advance the true interests of his government and people. We have been grievously misrepresented by our ill-wishers. No one of the Shah's representatives was inclined to protect or befriend us; no one was found to plead our Cause before <p566> him. We repeatedly appealed to him, but he ignored our entreaty and was deaf to our call. Our enemies, emboldened by the indifference which characterised the attitude of the ruling authorities, assailed us from every side, plundered our property, violated the honour of our wives and daughters, and captured our children. Undefended by our government and encompassed by our foes, we felt constrained to arise and defend our lives.'

"The Amir-Tuman turned to his lieutenant and asked him what action he would advise him to take. 'I am at a loss," the Amir added, 'as to the answer I should give this man. Were I at heart religious, I would unhesitatingly embrace his cause.' 'Nothing but the sword,' replied his lieutenant, 'will deliver us from this abomination of heresy.' 'I still hold the Qur'an in my hand,' interposed Darvish-Salah, 'and carry the declaration which you, of your own accord, chose to make. Are the words we have just heard our reward for having responded to your appeal?'

"The Amir-Tuman, in a burst of fury, offered that Darvish-Salah's beard be torn out, and that he, with those who were with him, be thrown into a dungeon. I and the rest of the children were scared, and attempted to escape. Raising the cry of 'Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!' we hurried in the direction of our barricades. Some of us were overtaken and made prisoners. As I was fleeing, the man who was pursuing me laid hold of the hem of my garment. I tore myself away from him and managed to reach the gate that led to the approaches of the fort, in a state of utter exhaustion. How great was my surprise when I saw one of the companions, a man named Iman-Quli, being savagely mutilated by the enemy. I was horrified as I gazed upon that scene, knowing as I did that on that very day the cessation of hostilities had been proclaimed and the most solemn pledges given that no acts of violence would be committed. I was soon informed that the victim had been betrayed by his brother, who, on the pretext of desiring to speak with him, had handed him over to his persecutors.

"I straightway hastened to Hujjat, who lovingly received me and, wiping the dust from my face, and clothing me with new garments, invited me to be seated by his side and bade <p567> me tell him the fate of his companions. I described to him all that I had seen. 'It is the tumult of the Day of Resurrection,' he explained, 'a tumult such as the world has never seen before. This is the day on which "man shall fly from his brother, and his mother and his father, and his wife and his children."[1] This is the day when man, not content with having abandoned his brother, sacrifices his substance in order to shed the blood of his nearest kinsman. This is the day when "every suckling woman shall forsake her sucking babe; and every woman that hath a burden in her womb shall cast her burden. And thou shalt see men drunken, yet they are not drunken; but it is the mighty chastisement of God!"'"[2]

[1 Qur'an, 80:34.]

[2 Qur'an, 22:2.]

Seating himself in the centre of the maydan,[1] Hujjat summoned his followers. On their arrival, he arose and, standing erect in their midst, spoke to them in these words: "I am well pleased with your unflinching endeavours, my beloved companions. Our enemies are bent upon our destruction. They harbour no other desire. Their intention was to trick you into coming out of the fort, and then to slaughter you mercilessly after their hearts' desire. Finding that their treachery has been exposed, they have, in the fury of their rage, ill-treated and imprisoned the oldest and the youngest among you. It is clear that not until they capture this fort and scatter you, will they lay down their arms or cease their persecutions against us. Your continued presence in this fort will eventually cause you to be taken captive by the enemy, who will of a certainty dishonour your wives and slay your children. Better is it, therefore, for you to make your escape in the middle of the night and to take your wives and children with you. Let each one seek a place of safety until such time as this tyranny shall be overpast. I shall remain alone to face the enemy. It were better that my death should allay their thirst for revenge than that you should all perish."

[1 See Glossary.]

The companions were moved to their very depths and, with tears in their eyes, declared their firm resolve to remain, to the end, by his side. "We can never consent," they exclaimed, to abandon you to the mercy of a murderous enemy! Our lives are not more precious than your life, <p568> neither are our families of a more noble descent than that of your kinsmen. Whatever calamity may yet befall you, is what we shall welcome for ourselves."

All except a few remained true their pledge. These, unable to bear the ever-increasing distress of a prolonged siege, and encouraged by the advice Hujjat himself had given them, betook themselves to a place of safety outside the fort, thus separating themselves from the rest of their fellow-disciples.

Nerved to a resolve of despair, the Amir-Tuman ordered all able-bodied men in Zanjan to assemble in the neighbourhood of his camp, ready to receive his commands. He reorganised the forces of his regiments, appointed their officers, and added them to the host of fresh recruits that had massed in the town. He ordered no less than sixteen regiments, each equipped with ten guns, to march against the fort. Eight of these regiments were charged to attack the fort every forenoon, after which the remainder of the forces were to replace them in their offensive until the approach of evening. The Amir himself took the field, and was seen in the forenoon of every day directing the efforts of his host, assuring them of the reward awaiting their success, and warning them of the punishment which, in the event of defeat, the sovereign would inflict upon them.

For one whole month the siege continued. Not content with attacks by day, the enemy several times attacked them by night also. The fierceness of their onslaughts, the overwhelming force of their numbers, and the rapid succession of the onsets, thinned the ranks of the companions and aggravated their distress. Reinforcements for the enemy continued to pour in from all directions, while the besieged languished in a state of misery and hunger.[1]

[1 "Finally the threats of the court, the encouragement and the reinforcements arrived so fast, there was such a disproportion as to soldiers and supplies between the Babis and their adversaries that the outcome became both evident and imminent." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 203.)]

The Amir-Nizam meanwhile decided to strengthen the hands of the Amir-Tuman by the appointment of Hasan-Ali Khan-i-Karrusi, who was commanded to march at the head of two sunni regiments to Zanjan. His arrival was the signal for the concentration of the enemy's artillery on <p569> the fort. A tremendous bombardment threatened the structure with immediate destruction. It lasted for a number of days, during which the stronghold stood firm in spite of the increasing fire which was directed against it. The friends of Hujjat displayed, during those days, a valour and skill that even their bitterest foes were compelled to admire.

One day, while the bombardment was still in progress, a bullet struck Hujjat in the right arm, as he was performing his ablutions. Though he ordered his servant not to inform his wife of the wound he had received, yet such was the man's grief that he was powerless to conceal his emotion. His tears betrayed his distress, and no sooner had the wife of Hujjat learned of the injury inflicted on her husband than she ran in distress and found him absorbed in prayer in a state of unruffled calm. Though bleeding profusely from his wound, his face retained its expression of undisturbed confidence. "Pardon this people, O God," he was heard to say, "for they know not what they do. Have mercy upon them, for they who have led them astray are alone responsible for the misdeeds the hands of this people have wrought."

Hujjat sought to calm the agitation that had seized his wife and relatives at the sight of the blood that covered his body. "Rejoice," he told them, "for I am still with you and desire you to be wholly resigned to God's will. What you now behold is but a drop compared to the ocean of afflictions that will be poured forth at the hour of my death. Whatever be His decree, it is our duty to acquiesce and bow down to His will."

No sooner had the news that he had been wounded reached the companions than they laid down their arms and hastened to him. The enemy, meanwhile, taking advantage of the momentary absence of their adversaries, redoubled their attack upon the fort and were able to force their passage through its gate.[1] That day they took captive no less than a hundred of the women and children, and plundered all their <p570> possessions. Despite the severity of that winter, these captives were left exposed in the open for no less than fifteen days and nights to a biting cold such as Zanjan had rarely experienced. Clad in the thinnest of garments, with no covering to protect them, they were abandoned, without food and shelter, in the wilderness. Their only protection was the gauze that covered their heads, with which they sought in vain to shield their faces from the icy wind that blew mercilessly upon them. Crowds of women, most of whom were inferior to them in social position, flocked from the various quarters of Zanjan to the scene of their sufferings and poured upon them contempt and ridicule. "You have now found your god," they scornfully exclaimed, as they danced wildly around them, "and have been rewarded abundantly by him." They spat in their faces and heaped upon them the foulest invectives.

[1 "The regiment of Karrus under the command of the chief of the tribe, Hasan-'Ali Khan (today minister to Paris), took the fort of Ali-Mardan Khan; the fourth regiment broke into the house of Aqa Aziz, one of the strongholds of the city, and burnt it to the ground; the regiment of guards blew up the hotel located near the Hamadan gate and, though it lost one captain and several soldiers, nevertheless it remained in possession of the place." (Ibid., p. 203.)]

The capture of the fort, though robbing Hujjat's companions of their chief instrument of defence, failed either to daunt their spirit or discourage their efforts. All property on which the enemy could lay its hands was plundered, and the women and children who were left defenceless were made captives. The rest of the companions, together with the remaining women and children, crowded into the houses that lay in the close vicinity of Hujjat's residence. They were divided into five companies, each consisting of nineteen times nineteen companions. From each of these companies, nineteen would rush forth together and, raising with one voice the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!" would fling themselves into the midst of the enemy and would succeed in scattering its forces. The uplifted voices of these ninety-five companions would alone prove sufficient to paralyse the efforts, and crush the spirit, of their assailants.

This state of affairs continued for a few days, bringing in its wake both humiliation and loss to an enemy that had believed itself capable of achieving immediate and signal victory. Many were killed in the course of these encounters. Officers, to the distress of their superiors, were beginning to desert their posts, the captains of the artillery were abandoning their guns, whilst the rank and file of the army was demoralised and completely exhausted. The Amir-Tuman <p571> was himself weary of the coercive measures to which he had been compelled to resort in order to maintain the discipline of his men and to keep unimpaired their efficiency and vigour. He was drive against to take counsel with the remainder of his officers, and to seek a desperate remedy for a situation that was fraught with grave danger to his own life no less than to that of the inhabitants of Zanjan. "I am weary," he confessed, "of the grim resistance of this people. They are evidently animated by a spirit which no amount of encouragement from our sovereign can hope to call forth in our men. Such self-renunciation surely no one in the ranks of our army is able to manifest. No power that I can command is able to arouse my men from the slough of despair into which they have fallen. Whether they triumph or fail, these soldiers believe themselves doomed to eternal damnation."

Their mature deliberations resulted in the decision to <p572> dig out underground passages from the site which their camp occupied to a place underneath the quarter in which the dwellings of Hujjat's adherents were situated. They determined to blow up these houses and by this means to force them to an unconditional surrender. For one whole month they laboured to fill these underground passages with all manner of explosives, and continued, at the same time, to demolish with fiendish cruelty such houses as remained standing. Wishing to accelerate the work of destruction, the Amir-Tuman ordered the officers in charge of his artillery to direct their fire upon Hujjat's residence, as the buildings that intervened between that house and the camp of the enemy had been razed to the ground, there remaining no further obstacle in the way of its ultimate destruction.

A section of his dwelling had already collapsed when Hujjat, who was still living within its walls, turned to his wife Khadijih, who was holding Hadi, their baby, in her arms, and warned her that the day was fast approaching when she and her infant might be taken captive, and bade her be prepared for that day. She was giving vent to her distress when a cannon-ball struck the room which she occupied, and killed her instantly. Her child, whom she was holding to her breast, fell into the brazier beside her, and shortly afterwards died of the injuries he had received, in the house of Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, the mujtahid of Zanjan.

Hujjat, though filled with grief, refused to yield to idle sorrow. "The day whereon I found Thy beloved One, O my God," he cried, "and recognized in Him the Manifestation of Thy eternal Spirit, I foresaw the woes that I should suffer for Thee. Great as have been until now my sorrows, they can never compare with the agonies that I would willingly suffer in Thy name. How can this miserable life of mine, the loss of my wife and of my child, and the sacrifice of the band of my kindred and companions, compare with the blessings which the recognition of Thy Manifestation has bestowed on me! Would that a myriad lives were mine, would that I possessed the riches of the whole earth and its glory, that I might resign them all freely and joyously in Thy path."

The tragic loss their beloved leader had sustained, and the grievous wound inflicted upon him, distressed the companions <p573> of Hujjat, and filled them with burning indignation. They determined to make a last and desperate effort to avenge the blood of their slaughtered brethren. Hujjat, however, dissuaded them from making that attempt, and exhorted them not to hasten the issue of the conflict. He bade them resign themselves to the will of God and to remain calm and steadfast to the end, whenever that end might come.

As time went on, their number diminished, their sufferings multiplied, and the area within which they could feel secure was reduced. On the morning of the fifth of the month of Rabi'u'l-Avval, in the year 1267 A.H.,[1] Hujjat, who had already, for nineteen days, endured the severe pain caused by his wound, was in the act of prayer and had fallen prostrate upon his face, invoking the name of the Bab, when he suddenly passed away.

[1 January 8, 1851 A.D.]

His sudden death came as a severe shock to his kindred and companions. Their grief at the passing of so able, so accomplished, and so inspiring a leader, was profound; the loss was irreparable. Two of his companions, Din-Muhammad-Vazir and Mir Riday-i-Sardar, straightway undertook, ere the enemy was made aware of his death, to inter his remains in a place which neither his kindred nor his friends could suspect. At midnight the body was borne to a room that belonged to Din-Muhammad-Vazir, where it received burial. They demolished that room in order to ensure the safety of the remains from desecration, and exercised the utmost care to maintain the secrecy of the spot.

More than five hundred women who survived that terrible tragedy were, immediately after the death of Hujjat, gathered together in his house. His companions, in spite of the death of their leader, continued to face, with undiminished zeal, the forces of their assailants. Of the great multitude that had flocked to the standard of Hujjat, there remained only two hundred vigorous men; the rest either had died or were utterly incapacitated by the wounds they had received.

The knowledge of the removal of so inspiring a leader nerved the enemy to resistance and decided them to wipe <p574> out what still remained of the formidable forces they had been unable to subdue. They launched a general attack, fiercer and more determined than any previous one. Animated by the beating of drums and the sound of trumpets, and encouraged by the shouts of exultation raised by the populace, they threw themselves upon the companions with unbridled ferocity, resolved not to rest until the whole company had been annihilated. In the face of this fierce onset, the companions raised once more the cry of Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!" and rushed forth, undismayed, to continue the heroic struggle until all of them had been either slain or captured.

That massacre had scarcely been perpetrated when the signal was given for a pillage, unexampled in its scope and ferocity. Had not the Amir-Tuman issued orders to spare what remained of the house and belongings of Hujjat, and to refrain from any acts of violence against his kindred, even more dastardly attacks would have been made by his rapacious army. His intention was to inform the authorities in Tihran and to seek from them whatever advice they wished to give him. He failed, however, to restrain indefinitely the spirit of violence which animated his men. The ulamas of Zanjan, flushed with the victory that had cost them such exertion and loss of life, and which had involved to such an unprecedented degree their reputation and prestige, endeavoured to incite the populace to commit every imaginable outrage against the lives of their men captives and the honour of their women. The sentinels who guarded the entrance to the house in which Hujjat had been living, were driven from their posts in the general tumult that ensued. The populace joined hands with the army to plunder the property and assail the persons of the few who still survived that memorable struggle. Neither the Amir-Tuman nor the governor was able to allay the thirst for plunder and revenge which had seized the whole town. Order and discipline no longer existed in the midst of the general confusion.

The governor of the province was, however, able to induce the officers of the army to gather together the captives into the house of a certain Haji Ghulam and to keep them in custody until the arrival of fresh instructions from Tihran. <p575> The entire company were huddled together like sheep in that wretched place, exposed to the cold of a severe winter. The enclosure into which they were crowded was roofless and without furniture. For a few days they remained without food. From thence the women were removed to the house of a muJtahid named Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, in the hope that he would induce them to recant, in return for which they would be offered their freedom. The greedy mujtahid, however, had, with the aid of his wives, his sisters and daughters, succeeded in seizing all they had been allowed to carry with them; had stripped them of their garments, clothed them in the meanest attire, and appropriated for himself whatever valuables he could find among their belongings.

After suffering untold hardships, these women captives were allowed to join their relatives, on condition that these would undertake full responsibility for their future behaviour. The rest were dispersed throughout the neighbouring villages, the inhabitants of which, unlike the people of Zanjan, welcomed the newcomers with treatment that was at once affectionate and genuine. The family of Hujjat, however, was detained in Zanjan until the arrival of definite instructions from Tihran.

As to the wounded, they were placed in custody until such time as the authorities in the capital should send directions as to how they were to be treated. Meanwhile the severity of the cold to which they were exposed and the cruelties they underwent were such that within a few days they had all perished.

The rest of the captives were delivered by the Amir-Tuman into the hands of the Karrusi, the Khamsih, and the Iraqi regiments, with orders that they be immediately executed. They were conducted in procession, to the accompaniment of drums and trumpets, to the camp where the army was stationed.[1] All these regiments combined to add <p576> to the horror of the abominations perpetrated against the poor sufferers. Armed with their lances and spears, they flung themselves upon the seventy-six companions who still remained, piercing and mutilating their bodies with a savage ruthlessness that excelled the dark deeds of even the most refined torture-mongers of their race. The spirit of revenge which that day dominated those barbarous men passed all bounds. Regiment vied with regiment in committing the foulest atrocities which their ingenious minds could devise. They were preparing to swoop afresh upon their victims when a certain Haji Muhammad-Husayn, father of Aba-Basir, sprang to his feet and, raising the call of the adhan, [2] thrilled the multitude that had gathered about him. Though in the hour of his death, such were the fervour and majesty with which he pealed out the words "Allah-u-Akbar," [3] that the entire Iraqi regiment immediately proclaimed their refusal to continue participating in such shameful deeds. Deserting their posts, and raising the cry "Ya Ali!" they fled from that place in horror and disgust. "Accursed be the Amir-Tuman!" they were heard to exclaim, as they turned their backs on that scene of bloodshed and horror. "That wretch <p577> has deceived us! With devilish persistence he sought to convince us of this people's disloyalty to the Imam Ali and to his kindred. Never, though we all be slain, will we consent to assist in such criminal deeds."

[1 "Then Muhammad Khan Bigliyirbigi, Amir Arslan Khan and the other commanders, although they had guaranteed on their honor to spare the lives of the Babis, assembled them in front of their troops to the accompaniment of drums and trumpets and ordered one hundred men, chosen from the different regiments, to take the prisoners and place them in a row. The command was then given to pierce them with bayonets, which was done. Then the leaders of the Babis, Sulayman the shoemaker and Haji Kazim Giltughi were blown to pieces from the mouths of mortars. This type of execution invented in Asia, but practised also by the English troops during the revolt in India, with the refinement with which European science and intelligence invest everything they do, consists in tying the victim to the mouth of the cannon loaded with powder. When the explosion takes place, the victim is torn to pieces, the size of the pieces depending upon the amount of powder used. "The execution over, the captives were sorted again. They set aside Mirza Rida, lieutenant of Mulla Muhammad-'Ali, and on all those of high standing or importance they placed chains about their necks and shackles on their hands and feet. They then decided to disregard the royal command and to take them to Tihran in order to augment their triumph. As for the few unfortunates who were left and whose life or death was of no importance to anyone, they were abandoned and the victorious army returned to the capital, dragging with them their prisoners, who walked ahead of the horses of the victorious generals. "Upon their arrival in Tihran, the Amir Nizam, prime minister, found it necessary to make an example of this new execution and Mirza Rida, Haji Muhammad-'Ali and Haji Muhsin were condemned to have their veins slashed open. The three victims learned the news without betraying the least emotion; they declared, nevertheless, that the lack of good faith, of which the authorities had been guilty, was not one of those crimes that the Almighty could be satisfied with punishing in the ordinary way; He would demand a punishment more impressive and striking for the persecutors of His saints. Consequently, they foretold that the prime minister would very soon suffer the same death that he was inflicting upon them. "I have heard this prophecy referred to and I do not doubt for an instant that they who informed me of it, were firmly convinced of its truth. I must however state here that when I was told about it, four years had elapsed since the Amir-Nizam was thus put to death by royal edict. The only thing I can affirm therefore is that I was given assurance that the prophecy had really been made by the martyrs of Zanjan." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 207-209.)]

[2 See Glossary.]

[3 "God is Most Great."]

A number of these captives were blown from guns; others were stripped naked, ice-cold water was poured upon their bodies, and they were lashed severely. Still others were smeared with treacle and left to perish in the snow. Despite the shame and cruelties they were made to suffer, not one of these captives was known either to recant or to utter one angry word against his persecutors. Not even a whisper of discontent escaped their lips, nor did their countenances betray a shadow of regret or grief. No amount of adversity could succeed in darkening the light that shone in those faces; no words, however insulting, could disturb the serenity of their expressions.[1]

[1 "After the execution, the spectators invaded the field of death, some searching for the body of a friend in order to bury it, others moved only by morbid curiosity. It is said that a Muhammadan, named Vali-Muhammad, came upon the body of one of his neighbours and, noticing that he was not quite dead, he called to him and said, 'I am your neighbor Vali-Muhammad. If you need anything call on me.' The other indicated that he was thirsty. Immediately the Muhammadan fetched a large stone and returning to his neighbor, said, 'Open your mouth, I bring you water.' As the dying man complied he crushed his head with the stone. "At last, the Bigliyirbigi started for Tihran, taking with him forty-four prisoners among whom were the son of Mirza Rida, Haji Muhammad-'Ali and Haji Muhsin the surgeon. These three were put to death after their arrival, the others were doomed to rot in prison." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 363.)]

No sooner had the persecutors finished their work than they began to seek for the body of Hujjat, the place of whose burial the companions had carefully concealed. The most inhuman tortures had proved powerless to induce them to disclose the identity of that spot. The governor, exasperated by the failure of his search, asked that the seven-year-old son of Hujjat, whose name was Husayn, be brought to him that he might attempt to induce him to disclose the secret. [1] My son, he said, as he gently caressed him, "I am filled with grief at the knowledge of all the afflictions that have been the lot of your parents. Not I, but the mujtahids of Zanjan, <p578> should be held responsible for the abominations that have been committed. I am now willing to accord the remains of your father a befitting burial, and wish to atone for the shameful deeds that have been perpetrated against him." By his gentle insinuations, he succeeded in getting the child to reveal the secret, and thereupon sent his men to fetch the body. No sooner had the object of his desire been delivered into his hands than he ordered that it be dragged with a rope, to the sound of drums and trumpets, through the streets of Zanjan. For three days and three nights, unspeakable injuries were heaped upon the body, which lay exposed to the eyes of the people in the maydan.[2] On the third night, it was reported that a number of horsemen had succeeded in carrying away the remnants of the corpse to a place of safety in the direction of Qazvin. As to Hujjat's kinsmen, orders were received from Tihran to conduct them to Shiraz and to deliver them into the hands of the governor. There they languished in poverty and misery. Whatever possessions still remained to them the governor seized for himself, and condemned the victims of his rapacity to seek shelter in a ruined and dilapidated house. Hujjat's youngest son, Mihdi, died <p579> of the privations he and his family were made to suffer, and was buried in the very midst of the ruins that had served as his shelter.

[1 "It was not enough for them to have gained the victory, they had even to insult the bodies of their enemies. They were eager to question the Babis but, no matter how great the torture with which they threatened them, the Babis refused to speak. They poured boiling oil upon the head of Aqa Din-Muhammad, but he remained silent. Finally, the Sardar had the son of the deceased chief brought before him. This child was but seven years of age, his name was Aqa Husayn and, through clever threats and insidious flattery, they succeeded in making him speak." (Ibid., p. 361.)]

[2 See Glossary.]

I was privileged, nine years after the termination of that memorable struggle, to visit Zanjan and witness the scene of those terrible butcheries. I beheld with grief and horror the ruins of the fort of Ali-Mardan Khan, and trod the ground that had been saturated with the blood of its immortal defenders. I could discern on its gates and walls traces of the carnage that marked its surrender to the enemy, and could discover upon the very stones that had served as barricades, stains of the blood that had been so profusely shed in that neighbourhood.

As to the number of those who fell in the course of these encounters, no accurate estimate has as yet been made. So numerous were those who participated in that struggle, and <p580> so prolonged the siege which they withstood, that to ascertain their names and number would be a task that I would hesitate to undertake. A tentative list of such names, which readers might do well to consult, has been prepared by Ismu'llahu'l-Mim and Ismu'llahu'l-Asad. Many and conflicting are the reports as to the exact number of those who struggled and fell under the banner of Hujjat in Zanjan. Some have estimated that there were as many as a thousand martyrs; according to others, they were more numerous. I have heard it stated that one of the companions of Hujjat who undertook to record the names of those who had suffered martyrdom, had left a written statement in which he had computed the number of those who had fallen prior to the death of Hujjat to be a thousand, five hundred and ninety-eight, whilst those who had suffered martyrdom afterwards were thought to have been in all two hundred and two persons.

For the account I have related of the happenings of Zanjan I am primarily indebted to Mirza Muhammad Aliy-i-Tabib-i-Zanjani, to Aba-Basir, and to Siyyid Ashraf, all martyrs of the Faith, with each of whom I was closely acquainted. The rest of my narrative is based upon the manuscript which a certain Mulla Husayn-i-Zanjani wrote and sent to the presence of Baha'u'llah, in which he recorded all the information he could glean from different sources regarding the events connected with that episode.

What I have related of the struggle of Mazindaran has been similarly inspired, to a very great extent, by the written account sent to the Holy Land by a certain Siyyid Abu-Talib-i-Shahmirzadi, as well as by the brief survey prepared here by one of the believers named Mirza Haydar-'Aliy-i-Ardistani. I have, moreover, ascertained certain facts connected with that struggle from persons who actually participated in it, such as Mulla Muhammad-Sadiq-i-Muqaddas, Mulla Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi, and Haji Abdu'l-Majid, father of Badi' and martyr to the Faith.

As to the events relating to the life and deeds of Vahid, I have obtained my information regarding what took place in Yazd from Rida'r-Ruh, who was one of his intimate companions. As to the later stages of that struggle in Nayriz, my narrative is mainly drawn from such information as I <p581> could gather from the detailed account sent to the Holy Land by a believer of that town, named Mulla Shafi, who had carefully investigated the matter and had reported it to Baha'u'llah. Whatever my pen has failed to record, future generations will, I hope, gather together and preserve for posterity. Many, I confess, are the gaps in this narrative, for which I beg the indulgence of my readers. It is my earnest hope that these gaps may be filled by those who will, after me, arise to compile an exhaustive and befitting account of these stirring events, the significance of which we can as yet but dimly discern. <p582>




Ever since I began the writing of my narrative, it has been my firm intention to include, in such accounts as I might be able to relate of the early days of this Revelation, those gems of inestimable value which it has been my privilege to hear, from time to time, from the lips of Baha'u'llah. These words, some of which were addressed to me alone, others which I shared with my fellow-disciples as we sat in His presence, are mainly concerned with the very episodes I have essayed to describe. Baha'u'llah's comments on the conference of Badasht, and His references to the tumult that marked its closing stages, to which I have referred in a preceding chapter, are but instances of the passages with which I hope to enrich and ennoble my narrative.

Upon the termination of the description of the struggle of Zanjan, I was ushered into His presence, and received, together with a number of other believers, the blessings which on two occasions He deigned to confer upon us. Both visits took place during the four days which Baha'u'llah chose to tarry in the home of Aqay-i-Kalim. On the second and fourth nights after His arrival at His brother's house, which fell on the seventh day of the month of Jamadiyu'l-Avval, in the year 1306 A.H.,[1] I, together with a number of pilgrims from Sarvistan and Faran, as well as a few resident believers, was admitted into His presence. The words He spoke to us lie for ever engraved upon my heart, and I feel it my duty to my readers to share with them the gist of His talk.

[1 January 9, 1889 A.D.]

"Praise be to God," He said, "that whatever is essential for the believers in this Revelation to be told has been revealed. Their duties have been clearly defined, and the deeds they are expected to perform have been plainly set forth in <p583> Our Book. Now is the time for them to arise and fulfil their duty. Let them translate into deeds the exhortations We have given them. Let them beware lest the love they bear God, a love that glows so brightly in their hearts, cause them to transgress the bounds of moderation, and to overstep the limits We have set for them. In regard to this matter, We wrote thus, while in Iraq, to Haji Mirza Musay-i-Qumi: 'Such is to be the restraint you should exercise that if you be made to quaff from the well-springs of faith and certitude all the rivers of knowledge, your lips must never be allowed to betray, to either friend or stranger, the wonder of the draught of which you have partaken. Though your heart be aflame with His love, take heed lest any eye discover your inner agitation, and though your soul be surging like an ocean, suffer not the serenity of your countenance to be disturbed, nor the manner of your behaviour to reveal the intensity of your emotions.'

"God knows that at no time did We attempt to conceal Ourself or hide the Cause which We have been bidden to proclaim. Though not wearing the garb of the people of learning, We have again and again faced and reasoned with men of great scholarship in both Nur and Mazindaran, and have succeeded in persuading them of the truth of this Revelation. We never flinched in Our determination; We never hesitated to accept the challenge from whatever direction it came. To whomsoever We spoke in those days, We found him receptive to our Call and ready to identify himself with its precepts. But for the shameful behaviour of the people of Bayan, who sullied by their deeds the work We had accomplished, Nur and Mazindaran would have been entirely won to this Cause and would have been accounted by this time among its leading strongholds.

At a time when the forces of Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza had besieged the fort of Tabarsi, We resolved to depart from Nur and lend Our assistance to its heroic defenders. We had intended to send Abdu'l-Vahhab, one of Our companions, in advance of Us, and to request him to announce Our approach to the besieged. Though encompassed by the forces of the enemy, We had decided to throw in Our lot with those steadfast companions, and to risk the dangers with which <p584> they were confronted. This, however, was not to be. The hand of Omnipotence spared Us from their fate and preserved Us for the work We were destined to accomplish. In pursuance of God's inscrutable wisdom, the intention We had formed was, before Our arrival at the fort, communicated by certain inhabitants of Nur to Mirza Taqi, the governor of Amul, who sent his men to intercept Us. While We were resting and taking Our tea, We found Ourselves suddenly surrounded by a number of horsemen, who seized Our belongings and captured Our steeds. We were given, in exchange for Our own horse, a poorly saddled animal which We found it extremely uncomfortable to ride. The rest of Our companions were conducted, handcuffed, to Amul. Mirza Taqi succeeded, in spite of the tumult Our arrival had raised, and in the face of the opposition of the ulamas, in releasing Us from their grasp and in conducting Us to his own house. He extended to Us the warmest hospitality. Occasionally he yielded to the pressure which the ulamas were continuously bringing to bear upon him, and felt himself powerless to defeat their attempts to harm Us. We were still in his house when the Sardar, who had joined the army in Mazindaran, returned to Amul. No sooner was he informed of the indignities We had suffered than he rebuked Mirza Taqi for the weakness he had shown in protecting Us from Our enemies. 'Of what importance,' he indignantly demanded, 'are the denunciations of this ignorant people? Why is it that you have allowed yourself to be swayed by their clamour? You should have been satisfied with preventing the party from reaching their destination and, instead of detaining them in this house, you should have arranged for their safe and immediate return to Tihran.'

"Whilst in Sari, We were again exposed to the insults of the people. Though the notables of that town were, for the most part, Our friends and had on several occasions met Us in Tihran, no sooner had the townspeople recognized Us, as We walked with Quddus in the streets, than they began to hurl their invectives at Us. The cry 'Babi! Babi!' greeted Us wherever We went. We were unable to escape their bitter denunciations.

"In Tihran We were twice imprisoned as a result of Our <p585> having risen to defend the cause of the innocent against a ruthless oppressor. The first confinement to which We were subjected followed the slaying of Mulla Taqiy-i-Qazvini, and was occasioned by the assistance We were moved to extend to those upon whom a severe punishment had been undeservedly inflicted. Our second imprisonment, infinitely more severe, was precipitated by the attempt which irresponsible followers of the Faith made on the life of the Shah. That event led to Our banishment to Baghdad. Soon after Our arrival, We betook Ourself to the mountains of Kurdistan, where We led for a time a life of complete solitude. We sought shelter upon the summit of a remote mountain which lay at some three days' distance from the nearest human habitation. The comforts of life were completely lacking. We remained entirely isolated from Our fellow men until a certain Shaykh Isma'il discovered Our abode and brought Us the food We needed.

'Upon Our return to Baghdad, We found, to Our great astonishment, that the Cause of the Bab had been sorely neglected, that its influence had waned, that its very name had almost sunk into oblivion. We arose to revive His Cause and to save it from decay and corruption. At the time when ear and perplexity had taken fast hold of Our companions, We reasserted, with fearlessness and determination, its essential verities, and summoned all those who had become lukewarm to espouse with enthusiasm the Faith they had so grievously neglected. We sent forth Our appeal to the peoples of the world, and invited them to fix their gaze upon the light of His Revelation.

"After Our departure from Adrianople, a discussion arose among the government officials in Constantinople as to whether We and Our companions should not be thrown into the sea. The report of such a discussion reached Persia, and gave rise to a rumour that We had actually suffered that fate. In Khurasan particularly, Our friends were greatly perturbed. Mirza Ahmad-i-Azghandi, as soon as he was informed of this news, was reported to have asserted that under no circumstances could he credit such a rumour. 'The Revelation of the Bab,' he said, 'must, if this be true, be regarded as utterly devoid of foundation.' The news of Our safe arrival <p586> in the prison-city of Akka rejoiced the hearts of Our friends, deepened the admiration of the believers of Khurasan for the faith of Mirza Ahmad, and increased their confidence him.

"From Our Most Great Prison We were moved to address to the several rulers and crowned heads of the world Epistles in which We summoned them to arise and embrace the Cause of God. To the Shah of Persia We sent Our messenger Badi', into whose hands We entrusted the Tablet. It was he who raised it aloft before the eyes of the multitude and, with uplifted voice, appealed to his sovereign to heed the words that Tablet contained. The rest of the Epistles likewise reached their destination. To the Tablet We addressed to the Emperor of France, an answer was received from his minister, the original of which is now in the possession of the Most Great Branch.[1] To him We addressed these words: 'Bid the high priest, O Monarch of France, to cease ringing his bells, for, lo! the Most Great Bell, which the hands of the will of the Lord thy God are ringing, is made manifest in the person of His chosen One.' The Epistle We addressed to the Czar of Russia, alone failed to reach it destination. Other Tablets, however, have reached him, and that Epistle will eventually be delivered into his hands.

[1 Abdu'l-Baha's title.]

"Be thankful to God for having enabled you to recognize His Cause. Whoever has received this blessing must, prior to his acceptance, have performed some deed which, though he himself was unaware of its character, was ordained by God as a means whereby he has been guided to find and embrace the Truth. As to those who have remained deprived of such a blessing, their acts alone have hindered them from recognising the truth of this Revelation. We cherish the hope that you, who have attained to this light, will exert your utmost to banish the darkness of superstition and unbelief from the midst of the people. May your deeds proclaim your faith and enable you to lead the erring into the paths of eternal salvation. The memory of this night will never be forgotten. May it never be effaced by the passage of time, and may its mention linger for ever on the lips of men."

The seventh Naw-Ruz after the Declaration of the Bab <p587> fell on the sixteenth day of the month of Jamadiyu'l-Avval in the year 1267 A.H.,[1] a month and a half after the termination of the struggle of Zanjan. That same year, towards the end of spring, in the early days of the month of Sha'ban,[2] Baha'u'llah left the capital for Karbila. I was, at that time, dwelling in Kirmanshah, in the company of Mirza Ahmad, the Bab's amanuensis, who had been ordered by Baha'u'llah to collect and transcribe all the sacred writings, the originals of which were, for the most part, in his possession. I was in Zarand, in the home of my father, when the Seven Martyrs of Tihran met their cruel fate. I subsequently succeeded in leaving for Qum, under the pretext of desiring to visit the shrine. Unable to find Mirza Ahmad, whom I wished to meet, I left for Kashan, on the advice of Haji Mirza Musay-i-Qumi, who informed me that the only person who could enlighten me as to the whereabouts of Mirza Ahmad was Azim, who was then living in Kashan. With him I again returned to Qum, where I was introduced to a certain Siyyid Abu'l-Qasim-i-'Alaqih-Band-i-Isfahani, who had previously accompanied Mirza Ahmad on his journey to Kirmanshah. Azim instructed him to conduct me to the gate of the city, where he was to inform me of the place where Mirza Ahmad was residing, and to arrange for my departure for Hamadan. Siyyid Abu'l-Qasim, in turn, referred me to Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-Tabib-i-Zanjani, whom he said I was sure to find in Hamadan and who would direct me to the place where I could meet Mirza Ahmad. I followed his instructions and was directed by this Mirza Muhammad-'Ali to meet, in Kirmanshah, a certain merchant, Ghulam-Husayn-i-Shushtari by name, who would conduct me to the house where Mirza Ahmad was residing.

[1 1851 A.D.]

[2 June 1-30, 1851 A.D.]

A few days after my arrival, Mirza Ahmad informed me of his having succeeded, while in Qum, in teaching the Cause to Ildirim Mirza, brother of Khanlar Mirza, to whom he wished to present a copy of the "Dala'il-i-Sab'ih,"[1] and expressed his desire that I should be its bearer. Ildirim Mirza was in those days governor of Khurram-Abad, in the province of Luristan, and had encamped with his army in the mountains <p588> of Khavih-Valishtar. I was only too glad to grant his request, and expressed my readiness to start immediately on that journey. With a Kurdish guide, we traversed mountains and forests for six days and six nights, until we reached the governor's headquarters. I delivered the trust into his hands and brought back with me for Mirza Ahmad a written message from him expressing his appreciation of the gift and assuring him of his devotion to the Cause of its Author.

[1 One of the Bab's best-known works.]

On my return, I received from Mirza Ahmad the joyful tidings of the arrival of Baha'u'llah in Kirmanshah. As we were being ushered into His presence, we found Him, it being the month of Ramadan, engaged in reading the Qur'an, and were blessed by hearing Him read verses of that sacred Book. I presented to Him Ildirim Mirza's written message to Mirza Ahmad. "The faith which a member of the Qajar dynasty professes," He remarked, after reading the letter, "cannot be depended upon. His declarations are insincere. Expecting that the Babis will one day assassinate the sovereign, he harbours in his heart the hope of being acclaimed by them the successor. The love he professes for the Bab is actuated by that motive." Within a few months we knew the truth of His words. This same Ildirim Mirza gave orders that a certain Siyyid Basir-i-Hindi, a fervent adherent of the Faith, should be put to death.

It would be appropriate at this juncture to deviate from the course of our narrative and refer briefly to the circumstances of this martyr's conversion and death. Among the disciples whom the Bab had instructed, in the early days of His Mission, to disperse and teach His Cause, was a certain Shaykh Sa'id-i-Hindi, one of the Letters of the Living, who had been directed by his Master to journey throughout India and proclaim to its people the precepts of His Revelation. Shaykh Sa'id, in the course of his travels, visited the town of Mooltan, where he met this Siyyid Basir,[l] who, <p589> though blind, was able to perceive immediately, with his inner eye, the significance of the message Shaykh Sa'id had brought him. The vast learning he had acquired, far from hindering him from appreciating the value of the Cause to which he was summoned, enabled him to grasp its meaning and understand the greatness of its power. Casting behind him the trappings of leadership, and severing himself from his friends and kinsmen, he arose with a fixed resolve to render his share of service to the Cause he had embraced. His first act was to undertake a pilgrimage to Shiraz, in the hope of meeting his Beloved. Arriving in that city, he was informed, to his surprise and grief, that the Bab had been banished to the mountains of Adhirbayjan, where He was leading a life of unrelieved solitude. He straightway proceeded to Tihran, and from thence departed for Nur, where he met Baha'u'llah. This meeting relieved his heart from the burden of sorrow caused by his failure to meet his Master. To those he subsequently met, of whatever class or creed, he imparted the joys and blessings he had so abundantly received from the hands of Baha'u'llah, and was able to endow them with a measure of the power with which his intercourse with Him had invested his innermost being.

[1 "From his childhood, Siyyid Basir showed signs of the wonderful faculties which he afterwards manifested. For seven years he enjoyed the blessings of sight, but then, even as the vision of his soul became clear, a veil of darkness fell on his outward eyes. From his infancy, he had displayed his good disposition and amiable character both in word and deed, he now added to this a singular piety and soberness of life. At length, at the age of twenty-one, he set out with great pomp and state (for he had much wealth in India) to perform the pilgrimage; and, on reaching Persia, began to associate with every sect and party (for he was well acquainted with the doctrines and tenets of all), and to give away large religious discipline. And since his ancestors had foretold that in those days a Perfect Man should appear in Persia, was continually engaged in making enquiries. He visited Mecca and, after performing the rites of the pilgrimage, proceeded to the holy shrines of Karbila and Najaf, where he met the late Haji Siyyid Kazim, for whom he conceived a sincere friendship. He then returned to India; but, on reaching Bombay, he heard that one claiming to be the Bab had appeared in Persia, whereupon he at once turned back thither." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 245-6.)]

I have heard Shaykh Shahid-i-Mazkan relate the following: "I was privileged to meet Siyyid Basir at the height of summer during his passage through Qamsar, whither the leading men of Kashan go to escape the heat of that town. Day and night, I found him engaged in arguing with the leading ulamas who had congregated in that village. With ability and insight, he discussed with them the subtleties of their Faith, expounded without fear or reservation the fundamental teachings of the Cause, and absolutely confuted their arguments. No one, however great his learning and experience, was able to reject the evidences he set forth in support of his claims. Such were his insight and his knowledge <p590> of the teachings and ordinances of Islam that his adversaries conceived him to be a sorcerer, whose baneful influence they feared would ere long rob them of their position."

I have similarly heard Mulla Ibrahim, surnamed Mulla-Bashi, who was martyred in Sultan-Abad, thus recount his impression of Siyyid Basir: "Towards the end of his life, Siyyid Basir passed through Sultan-Abad, where I was able to meet him. He was continually associated with the leading ulamas. No one could surpass his knowledge of the Qur'an and his mastery of the traditions ascribed to Muhammad. He displayed an understanding which made him the terror of his adversaries. Often would his opponents question the accuracy of his quotations or reject the existence of the tradition which he produced in support of his contention. With unerring exactitude, he would establish the truth of his argument by his reference to the text of the Usul-i-Kafi' and the 'Biharu'l-Anvar,'[1] from which he would instantly bring out the particular tradition demonstrating the truth of his words. He stood unrivalled alike in the fluency of his argument and the facility with which he brought out the most incontrovertible proofs in support of his theme."

[1 Compilations of Muhammadan traditions.]

From Sultan-Abad, Siyyid Basir proceeded to Luristan, where he visited the camp of Ildirim Mirza, and was receive by him with marked respect and consideration. In the course of his conversation with him one day, the siyyid, who was a man of great courage, referred to Muhammad Shah in terms that aroused the fierce anger of Ildirim Mirza. He was furious at the tone and vehemence of his remarks, and ordered that his tongue be pulled out through the back of his n eck. The siyyid endured this cruel torture with amazing fortitude, but succumbed to the pain which his oppressor had mercilessly inflicted upon him. The same week a letter, in which Ildirim Mirza had abused his brother, Khanlar Mirza, was discovered by the latter, who immediately obtained the consent of his sovereign to treat him in whatever way he pleased. Khanlar Mirza, who entertained an implacable hatred for his brother, ordered that he be stripped of his clothes and conducted, naked and in chains, to Ardibil, where he was imprisoned and where eventually he died. <p591>

Baha'u'llah spent the entire month of Ramadan in Kirmanshah. Shukru'llah-i-Nuri, one of His kinsmen, and Mirza Muhammad-i-Mazindarani, who had survived the struggle of Tabarsi, were the only companions He chose to take with Him to Karbila. I have heard Baha'u'llah Himself give the reasons for His departure from Tihran. "The Amir-Nizam, He told us, "asked Us one day to see him. He received Us cordially, and revealed the purpose for which he had summoned Us to his presence. 'I am well aware,' he gently insinuated, 'of the nature and influence of your activities, and am firmly convinced that were it not for the support and assistance which you have been extending to Mulla Husayn and his companions, neither he nor his band of inexperienced students would have been capable of resisting for seven months the forces of the imperial government. The ability and skill with which you have managed to direct and encourage those efforts could not fail to excite my admiration. I have been unable to obtain any evidence whereby I could establish your complicity in this affair. I feel it a pity that so resourceful a person should be left idle and not be given an opportunity to serve his country and sovereign. The thought has come to me to suggest to you that you visit Karbila in these days when the Shah is contemplating a journey to Isfahan. It is my intention to be enabled, on his return, to confer upon you the position of Amir-Divan, a function you could admirably discharge.' We vehemently protested against such accusations, and refused to accept the position he hoped to offer Us. A few days after that interview, We left Tihran for Karbila."

Ere Baha'u'llah's departure from Kirmanshah, He summoned Mirza Ahmad and me to His presence and bade us depart for Tihran. I was charged to meet Mirza Yahya immediately after my arrival and to take him with me to the fort of Dhu'l-Faqar Khan, situated in the vicinity of Shahrud, and remain with him until Baha'u'llah returned to the capital Mirza Ahmad was instructed to remain in Tihran until His arrival, and was entrusted with a box of sweetmeats and a letter addressed to Aqay-i-Kalim, who was to forward the gift to Mazindaran, where the Most Great Branch and His mother were residing. <p592>

Mirza Yahya, to whom I delivered the message, refused to leave Tihran, and directed me instead to leave for Qazvin. He compelled me to abide by his wish and to take with me certain letters which he bade me deliver to certain of his friends in that town. On my return to Tihran, I was constrained, on the insistence of my kinsmen, to leave for Zarand. Mirza Ahmad, however, promised that he would again arrange for my return to the capital, a promise which he fulfilled. Two months later, I was again living with him in a caravanserai outside the gate of Naw, where I passed the whole winter in his company. He spent his days in transcribing the Persian Bayan and the "Dala'il-i-Sab'ih," a work he accomplished with admirable enthusiasm. He entrusted me with two copies of the latter, asking me to present them on his behalf to Mustawfiyu'l-Mamalik-i-Ashtiyani and Mirza Siyyid Aliy-i-Tafarshi, surnamed the Majdu'l-Ashraf. The former was so much affected that he was completely won over to the Faith. As for Mirza Siyyid Ali, the views he expressed were of a totally different character. At a gathering at which Aqay-i-Kalim was present, he commented in an unfavourable manner upon the continued activities of the believers. "This sect," he publicly declared, "is still living. Its emissaries are hard at work, spreading the teachings of their leader. One of them, a youth, came to visit me the other day, and presented me with a treatise which I regard as highly dangerous. Anyone from among the common people who shall read that book will surely be beguiled by its tone." Aqay-i-Kalim immediately understood from his allusions that Mirza Ahmad had sent the Book to him and that I had acted as his messenger. On that very day, Aqay-i-Kalim asked me to visit him and advised me to return to my home in Zarand. I was asked to induce Mirza Ahmad to leave instantly for Qum, as both of us, in his opinion, were exposed to great danger. Acting according to Mirza Ahmad's instructions, I succeeded in inducing the siyyid to return the Book that had been offered him. Shortly after, I parted company with Mirza Ahmad, whom I never met again. I accompanied him as far as Shah-'Abdu'l-'Azim, while he departed for Qum, while I pursued my way to Zarand. <p593>

The month of Shavval, in the year 1267 A.H.,[1] witnessed the arrival of Baha'u'llah at Karbila. On His way to that holy city, He tarried a few days in Baghdad, that place which He was soon to visit again and where His Cause was destined to mature and unfold itself to the world. When He arrived at Karbila, He found that a number of its leading residents, among whom were Shaykh Sultan and Haji Siyyid Javad, had fallen victims to the pernicious influence of a certain Siyyid-i-'Uluvv, and had declared themselves his supporters. They were immersed in superstitions and believed their leader to be the very incarnation of the Divine Spirit. Shaykh Sultan ranked among his most fervent disciples and regarded himself, next to his master, as the foremost leader of his countrymen. Baha'u'llah met him on several occasions and succeeded, by His words of counsel and loving-kindness, in purging his mind from his idle fancies and in releasing him from the state of abject servitude into which he had sunk. He won him over completely to the Cause of the Bab and kindled in his heart a desire to propagate the Faith. His fellow-disciples, witnessing the effects of his immediate and marvellous conversion, were led, one after another, to forsake their former allegiance and to embrace the Cause which their colleague had risen to champion. Abandoned and despised by his former adherents, the Siyyid-i-'Uluvv was at length reduced to recognising the authority of Baha'u'llah and acknowledging the superiority of His position. He even went so far as to express repentance for his acts, and to pledge his word that he would never again advocate the theories and principles with which he had identified himself.

[1 July 30-August 28, 1851 A.D.]

It was during that visit to Karbila that Baha'u'llah encountered, as He was walking through the streets, Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, to whom He confided the secret He was destined to reveal at a later time in Baghdad. He found him eagerly searching after the promised Husayn, to whom the Bab had so lovingly referred and whom He had promised he would meet in Karbila. We have already, in a preceding chapter, narrated the circumstances leading to his meeting with Baha'u'llah. From that day, Shaykh Hasan became magnetised by the charm of his newly found Master, and <p594> would, but for the restraint he was urged to exercise, have proclaimed to the people of Karbila the return of the promised Husayn whose appearance they were awaiting.

Among those who were made to feel that power was Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Tabib-i-Zanjani, in whose heart was implanted a seed that was destined to grow and blossom into a faith of such tenacity that the fires of persecution were powerless to quench it. To his devotion, his high-mindedness and singleness of purpose Baha'u'llah Himself testified. That faith carried him eventually to the field of martyrdom. The same fate was shared by Mirza Abdu'l-Vahhab-i-Shirazi, son of Haji Abdu'l-Majid, who owned a shop in Karbila and who felt the impulse to forsake all his possessions and follow his Master. He was advised, however, not to abandon his work, but to continue to earn his livelihood until such time as he should be summoned to Tihran. Baha'u'llah urged him to be patient, and gave him a sum of money wherewith he encouraged him to extend the scope of his business. Unable to concentrate his attention upon his trade, Mirza Abdu'l-Vahhab hastened to Tihran, where he remained until he was thrown into the dungeon in which his Master was confined and there suffered martyrdom for His sake.

Shaykh Ali-Mirzay-i-Shirazi was likewise attracted to, and remained to his last breath a staunch supporter of, the Cause to which he had been called and which he served with a selflessness and devotion beyond all praise. To friend and stranger alike he recounted his experiences of the marvellous influence the presence of Baha'u'llah had had upon him, and enthusiastically described the signs and wonders he had witnessed during and after the days of his conversion. <p595>




THE eighth Naw-Ruz after the Declaration of the Bab, which fell on the twenty-seventh day of the month of Jamadiyu'l-Avval, in the year 1268 A.H.,[1] found Baha'u'llah still in Iraq, engaged in spreading the teachings, and making firm the foundations, of the New Revelation. Displaying an enthusiasm and ability that recalled His activities in the early days of the Movement in Nur and Mazindaran, He continued to devote Himself to the task of reviving the energies, of organising the forces, and of directing the efforts, of the Bab's scattered companions. He was the sole light amidst the darkness that encompassed the bewildered disciples who had witnessed, on the one hand, the cruel martyrdom of their beloved Leader and, on the other, the tragic fate of their companions. He alone was able to inspire them with the needful courage and fortitude to endure the many afflictions that had been heaped upon them; He alone was capable of preparing them for the burden of the task they were destined to bear, and of inuring them to brave the storm and perils they were soon to face.

[1 1852 A.D.]

In the course of the spring of that year, Mirza Taqi Khan, the Amir-Nizam, the Grand Vazir of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, who had been guilty of such infamous outrages against the Bab an His companions, met his death in a public bath in Fin, near Kashan,[1] having miserably failed to stay the <p596> onrush of the Faith he had striven so desperately to crush. His own fame and honour were destined eventually to perish with his death, and not the influence of the life he had sought to extinguish. During the three years when he held the post of Grand Vazir of Persia, his ministry was stained with deeds of blackest infamy. What atrocities did not his hands commit as they were stretched forth to tear down the fabric the Bab had raised! To what treacherous measures did he not resort, in his impotent rage, in order to sap the vitality of a Cause which he feared and hated! The first year of his administration was marked by the ferocious onslaught of the imperial army of Nasiri'd-Din Shah against the defenders of the fort of Tabarsi. With what ruthlessness he conducted the campaign of repression against those innocent upholders of the Faith of God! What fury and eloquence he displayed in pleading for the extermination of the lives of Quddus, of Mulla Husayn, and of three hundred and thirteen of the best and noblest of his countrymen! The second year of his ministry found him battling with savage determination to extirpate the Faith in the capital. It was he who authorised and encouraged the capture of the believers who resided in that city, and who ordered the execution of the Seven Martyrs of Tihran. It was he who unchained the offensive against Vahid and his companions, who inspired that campaign of revenge which animated their persecutors, and who instigated them to commit the abominations with which that episode will for ever remain associated. That same year witnessed another blow more terrible than any he had hitherto dealt that persecuted community, a blow that brought to a tragic end the life of Him who was the Source of all the forces he had in vain sought to repress. The last years of that Vazir's life will for ever remain associated with the most revolting of the vast campaigns which his ingenious mind had devised, <p597> <p598> a campaign that involved the destruction of the lives of Hujjat and of no less than eighteen hundred of his companions. Such were the distinguishing features of a career that began and ended in a reign of terror such as Persia had seldom seen.

[1 "About four miles to the southwest of Kashan, on the slopes of the mountains, is situated the palace of Fin, the springs of which have rendered it a favourite resort of royalty from early times.... In later times, a gloomier memory has attached to the palace of Fin; for here, in 1852, Mirza Taqi Khan, the first great minister of the reigning Shah, and brother-in-law of the king, was put to death by the Royal order, his veins being opened in a bath. The place is now deserted." (Lord Curzon's "Persia and the Persian Question," vol. 2, p.16.) "A lady of the harem was sent to the Princess, telling her to dry her tears, for that the Shah had relented, and that the Amir was to return to Tihran or go to Karbila, the usual haven for Persians who have lost court favour. 'The khal'at or coat of honour,' said she, "is on the way, and will arrive in an hour or two; go therefore, to the bath, and prepare to receive it.' The Amir all this time had not once ventured to quit the safety afforded by the apartment of the Princess, and of her presence. On hearing the joyful news, however, he resolved to take the advice of this woman, and indulge in the luxury of a bath. He left the Princess, and she never saw him more. When he reached the bath the fatal order was revealed to him, and the crime perpetrated. The farrash-bashi and his vile crew presented themselves, and the choice of the mode of death was given to him. It is said he bore his fate with patience and fortitude. His veins were opened, and he at length expired." (Lady Sheil's "Glimpses of Life and Manners in Persia," pp. 251-2.)]

He was succeeded by Mirza Aqa Khan-i-Nuri,[1] who endeavoured, at the very outset of his ministry, to effect a reconciliation between the government of which he was the head and Baha'u'llah, whom he regarded as the most capable of the Bab's disciples. He sent Him a warm letter requesting Him to return to Tihran, and expressing his eagerness to meet Him. Ere the receipt of that letter, Baha'u'llah had already decided to leave Iraq for Persia.

[1 His title was the I'timadu'd-Dawlih, the Trusted of the State. (Lady Sheil's "Glimpses of Life and Manners in Persia," p. 249.)]

He arrived in the capital in the month of Rajab,[1] and was welcomed by the Grand Vazir's brother, Ja'far-Quli Khan, who had been specially directed to go forth to receive Him. For one whole month, He was the honoured Guest of <p599> the Grand Vazir, who had appointed his brother to act as host on his behalf. So great was the number of the notables and dignitaries of the capital who flocked to meet Him that He found Himself unable to return to His own home. He remained in that house until His departure for Shimiran. [2]

[1 April 21-May 21, 1852 A.D.

[2 "Shimiran or Shimran (sometimes used in the plural, Shimranat) is the name applied generally to the villages and mansions situated on the lower slopes descending from Elburz which serve as summer residences to the wealthier inhabitants of Tihran." ("Traveller's Narrative," p. 81, footnote 1.)]

I have heard it stated by Aqay-i-Kalim that in the course of that journey Baha'u'llah was able to meet Azim, who had been endeavouring for a long time to see Him, and who in that interview was advised, in the most emphatic terms, to abandon the plan he had conceived. Baha'u'llah condemned his designs, dissociated Himself entirely from the act it was his intention to commit, and warned him that such an attempt would precipitate fresh disasters of unprecedented magnitude.

Baha'u'llah proceeded to Lavasan, and was staying in the village of Afchih, the property of the Grand Vazir, when the news of the attempt on the life of Nasiri'd-Din Shah reached Him. Ja'far-Quli Khan was still acting as His host on behalf of the Amir-Nizam. That criminal act was committed towards the end of the month of Shavval, in the year 1268 A.H.,[1] by two obscure and irresponsible young men, one named Sadiq-i-Tabrizi, the other Fathu'llah-i-Qumi, both of whom earned their livelihood in Tihran. At a time when the imperial army, headed by the Shah himself, had encamped in Shimiran, these two ignorant youths, in a frenzy of despair, arose to avenge the blood of their slaughtered brethren.[2] <p600> The folly that characterised their act was betrayed by the fact that in making such an attempt on the life of their sovereign, instead of employing effective weapons which would ensure the success of their venture, these youths charged their pistols with shot which no reasonable person would ever think of using for such a purpose. Had their action been instigated by a man of judgment and common sense, he would certainly never have allowed them to carry out their intention with such ridiculously ineffective instruments.[3]

[1 Shavval 28; August 15, 1852 A.D.

[2 "In the morning, the king went out for a horseback ride. Before him, as usual, went equerries carrying long lances, grooms leading horses with embroidered saddle cloths, and a group of nomad riders with their rifles slung over the shoulder and their swords hanging from their saddles. This vanguard preceded the king in order that he might not be annoyed by the dust raised by the cavalry, and the king followed along slowly, a little distance from the retinue of the great lords, chiefs and officers who accompanied him everywhere. He was near the palace and had barely passed the small door of the garden of Muhammad-Hasan, Sanduq-dar or treasurer of the Savings, when he noticed, at the side of the road, three men, three gardeners, standing two on the left, and one on the right side, seemingly waiting for him. He did not suspect danger and rode on. When quite close, he saw them bow very low and he heard them cry out together, 'We are your sacrifice! We make a request.' This is the traditional formula, but instead of remaining aloof as is customary, they rushed on him repeating, 'We make a request!' Surprised, the king shouted, 'Rascals, what do you want?' At that moment, the man on his right took hold of the bridle of the horse and fired upon the king. In the meantime, the two men on the left fired also. One of the shots cut the collar of pearls adorning the horse's neck, another riddled with buckshot the right arm and back of the king. Immediately, the man on the right pulled on the leg of His Majesty and would have unsaddled him, had it not been that the two assassins on the left were pulling on the other side. The king was striking his assailants on the head with his fists, while the jumping of the frightened horse paralyzed their efforts and delayed their aggression. The royal retinue, at first dumbfounded, hurried towards their master. Asadu'llah Khan, the grand equerry, and one of the nomad riders killed the man on the right with their swords. In the meantime, several lords threw down the other two men and bound them. "Doctor Cloquet, the court physician, had the king brought quickly into the garden of Muhammad-Hasan, Sanduq-dar; as no one seemed to know what had really happened, and those who sensed an imminent danger, had no idea of what a catastrophe it might be. During more than an hour, a great tumult reigned in the city of Niyavaran, while ministers headed by the Sadr-i-A'zam rushed into the garden. The bugles, the drums, the tambourines and the fifes were calling the troops together; the ghulams came riding at full speed; everyone was giving orders, no one saw, heard or knew anything. In the midst of this confusion a courier arrived from Tihran, sent by Ardishir Mirza, governor of the city, to enquire what had happened and what measures should be taken in the capital, for, on the previous evening, the rumor had grown into a certainty that the king had been assassinated. The bazaars, policed by men in arms, had been deserted by the merchants. All night long, bakeries had been surrounded, everyone trying to store up provisions for several days, as people do when they foresee trouble. "At dawn, as the agitation grew, Ardishir Mirza had ordered the gates of the citadel of the town closed, put the regiment on a war footing, and pointed his guns, although he did not know who the enemy was; and now he was asking for orders." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 231-233.)]

[3 Lord Curzon, who regards this event as being "most unfairly mistaken for a revolutionary and anarchical conspiracy," writes as follows: "From the facts that Babism in its earliest years found itself in conflict with the civil powers, and that an attempt was made by Babis upon the life of the Shah, it has been wrongly inferred that the movement was political in origin and Nihilist in character. It does not appear from a study of the writings either of the Bab or his successors, that there is any foundation for such a suspicion. The persecution of the government very early drove the adherents of the new creed into an attitude of rebellion; and in the exasperation produced by the struggle, and by the ferocious brutality with which the rights of conquest were exercised by the victors, it was not surprising if fanatical hands were found ready to strike the sovereign down. At the present time the Babis are equally loyal with any other subjects of the Crown. Nor does there appear to be any greater justice in the charges of socialism, communism, and immorality, that have so freely been levelled at the youthful persuasion. Certainly no such idea as communism in the European sense, i.e., a forcible redistribution of property, or as socialism in the nineteenth century sense i.e., the defeat of capital by labour, ever entered the brain of the Bab or his disciples. The only communism known to and recommended by him was that of the New Testament and the early Christian Church, viz the sharing of goods in common by members of the faith, and the exercise of almsgiving, and an ample charity. The charge of immorality seems to have arisen partly from the malignant inventions of opponents, partly from the much greater freedom claimed for women by the Bab, which in the Oriental mind is scarcely dissociable from profligacy of conduct.... Broadly regarded, Babism may be defined as a creed of charity, and almost of common humanity. Brotherly love, kindness to children, courtesy combined with dignity, sociability, hospitality, freedom from bigotry, friendliness even to Christians, are included in its tenets. That every Babi recognizes or observes these precepts would be a foolish assertion; but let a prophet, if his gospel be in question, be Judged by his own preaching." (Lord Curzon's "Persia and the Persian Question," pp. 501-2.)<p601>

That act, though committed by wild and feeble-minded fanatics, and in spite of its being from the very first emphatically condemned by no less responsible a person than Baha'u'llah, was the signal for the outbreak of a series of persecutions and massacres of such barbarous ferocity as could be compared only to the atrocities of Mazindaran and Zanjan. The storm to which that act gave rise plunged the whole of Tihran into consternation and distress. It involved the life of the leading companions who had survived the calamities to which their Faith had been so cruelly and repeatedly subjected. That storm was still raging when Baha'u'llah, with some of His ablest lieutenants, was plunged into a filthy, dark, and fever-stricken dungeon, whilst chains of such weight as only notorious criminals were condemned to carry, were placed upon His neck. For no less than four months He bore the burden, and such was the intensity of His suffering that the marks of that cruelty remained imprinted upon His body all the days of His life.

So grave a menace to their sovereign and to the institutions of his realm stirred the indignation of the entire body of the ecclesiastical order of Persia. To them so bold a deed called for immediate and condign punishment. Measures of unprecedented severity, they clamoured, should be undertaken to stem the tide that was engulfing both the government and the Faith of Islam. Despite the restraint which the followers of the Bab had exercised ever since the inception of the Faith in every part of the land; despite the repeated charges of the chief disciples to their brethren enjoining them <p602> to refrain from acts of violence, to obey their government loyally, and to disclaim any intention of a holy war, their enemies persevered in their deliberate efforts to misrepresent the nature and purpose of that Faith to the authorities. Now that an act of such momentous consequences had been committed, what accusations would not these same enemies be prompted to attribute to the Cause with which those guilty of the crime had been associated! The moment seemed to have come when they could at last awaken the rulers of the country to the necessity of extirpating as speedily as possible a heresy which seemed to threaten the very foundations of the State.

Ja'far-Quli Khan, who was in Shimiran when the attempt on the Shah's life was made, immediately wrote a letter to Baha'u'llah and acquainted Him with what had happened. "The Shah's mother," he wrote, "is inflamed with anger. She is denouncing you openly before the court and people as the 'would-be murderer' of her son. She is also trying to involve Mirza Aqa Khan in this affair, and accuses him of being your accomplice." He urged Baha'u'llah to remain for a time concealed in that neighbourhood, until the passion of the populace had subsided. He despatched to Afchih an old and experienced messenger whom he ordered to be at the <p603> disposal of his Guest and to hold himself in readiness to accompany Him to whatever place of safety He might desire.

Baha'u'llah refused to avail Himself of the opportunity Ja'far-Quli Khan offered Him. Ignoring the messenger and rejecting his offer, He rode out, the next morning, with calm confidence, from Lavasan, where He was sojourning, to the headquarters of the imperial army, which was then stationed in Niyavaran, in the Shimiran district. Arriving at the village of Zarkandih, the seat of the Russian legation, which lay at a distance of one maydan [1] from Niyavaran, He was met by Mirza Majid, His brother-in-law, who acted as secretary to the Russian minister,[2] and was invited by him to stay at his home, which adjoined that of his superior. The attendants of Haji Ali Khan, the Hajibu'd-Dawlih, recognized Him and went straightway to inform their master, who in turn brought the matter to the attention of the Shah.

[1 See Glossary.]

[2 Prince Dolgorouki.]

The news of the arrival of Baha'u'llah greatly surprised the officers of the imperial army. Nasiri'd-Din Shah himself was amazed at the bold and unexpected step which a man who was accused of being the chief instigator of the attempt upon his life had taken. He immediately sent one of his trusted officers to the legation, demanding that the Accused be delivered into his hands. The Russian minister refused, and requested Baha'u'llah to proceed to the home of Mirza Aqa Khan, the Grand Vazir, a place he thought to be the most appropriate under the circumstances. His request was granted, whereupon the minister formally communicated to the Grand Vazir his desire that the utmost care should be exercised to ensure the safety and protection of the Trust his government was delivering into his keeping, warning him that he would hold him responsible should he fail to disregard his wishes.[1]

[1 "When I was in chains and fetters, in the prison of Ta, one of thine ambassadors assisted Me. Therefore hath God decreed unto thee a station which none but Himself can comprehend. Beware lest thou change this lofty station." (Baha'u'llah's Tablet to the Czar of Russia.)]

Mirza Aqa Khan, though he undertook to give the fullest assurances that were required, and received Baha'u'llah with every mark of respect into his home, was, however, too apprehensive <p604> for the safety of his own position to accord his Guest the treatment he was expected to extend.

As Baha'u'llah was leaving the village of Zarkandih, the minister's daughter, who felt greatly distressed at the dangers which beset His life, was so overcome with emotion that she was unable to restrain her tears. "Of what use," she was heard expostulating with her father, "is the authority with which you have been invested, if you are powerless to extend your protection to a guest whom you have received in your house?" The minister, who had a great affection for his daughter, was moved by the sight of her tears, and sought to comfort her by his assurances that he would do all in his power to avert the danger that threatened the life of Baha'u'llah.

That day the army of Nasiri'd-Din Shah was thrown into a state of violent tumult. The peremptory orders of the sovereign, following so closely upon the attempt on his life, gave rise to the wildest rumours and excited the fiercest passions in the hearts of the people of the, neighbourhood. The agitation spread to Tihran and fanned into flaming fury the smouldering embers of hatred which the enemies of the Cause still nourished ill their hearts. Confusion, unprecedented in its range, reigned in the capital. A word of denunciation, a sign, or a whisper was sufficient to subject the <p605> innocent to a persecution which no pen dare try to describe. Security of life and property had completely vanished. The highest ecclesiastical authorities in the capital joined hands with the most influential members of the government to deal what they hoped would be the fatal blow to a foe who, for eight years, had so gravely shaken the peace of the land, and whom no cunning or violence had yet been able to silence.[1]

[1 Renan, in his work entitled "Les Apotres" (p. 378), characterises the great massacre of Tihran, following on the attempt made on the life of the Shah, as "un jour sans pareil peut-etre dans l'historire du monde." (E. G. Browne's introduction to "A Traveller's Narrative," p. 45.) "The number of martyrdoms which have taken place in Persia has been estimated at ten thousand. [This estimate is conservative. Many place the number at from twenty to thirty thousand. [This estimate is conservative. Many place the number at from twenty to thirty thousand, and some even higher.] Most of these occurred during the early history of the faith, but they have continued with diminishing frequency, even down to the present time." (M. H. Phelps' "Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi," introduction, p. 36.) "Amongst the documents referring to the Babis in my possession is a manuscript copy of an article in German published on October 17, 1852 in No. 291 of some German or Austrian newspaper of which, unhappily, the name is not noted. I think that I received it a good many years ago from the widow of the late Dr. Polak, an Austrian doctor, who was a physician to Nasiri'd-Din Shah at the beginning of his reign, and who is the author of a valuable book and several smaller treatises on Persia and matters connected therewith. It is chiefly based on a letter written on August 29, 1852, by an Austrian officer, Captain von Goumoens, who was in the Shah's service, but who was so disgusted, and horrified at the cruelties he was compelled to witness that he sent in his resignation. The translation of this article is as follows: 'Some days ago we mentioned the attempt made on the life of the Shah of Persia on the occasion of a hunting-party. The conspirators, as is well known, belonged to the Babis, a religious sect. Concerning this sect and the repressive measures adopted against it, the letter of Austrian Captain von Goumoens lately published in the "Soldier's Friend" (Soldatenfreund) contains interesting disclosures, and elucidates to some extent the attempt in question. This letter runs as follows: "Tihran, August 29, 1852. Dear Friend, My last letter of the 20th inst. mentioned the attempt on the King. I will now communicate to you the result of the interrogation to which the two criminals were subjected. In spite of the terrible tortures inflicted, the examination extorted no comprehensive confession; the lips of the fanatics remained closed, even when by means of red-hot pincers and limb-rending screws they sought to discover the chief conspirator.... But follow me, my friend, you who lay claim to a heart and European ethics, follow me to the unhappy ones who, with gouged-out eyes, must eat, on the scene of the deed, without any sauce, their own amputated ears; or whose teeth are torn out with inhuman violence by the hand of the executioner; or whose bare skulls are simply crushed by blows from a hammer; or where the bazar is illuminated with 1 unhappy victims, because on right and left the people dig deep holes in their breasts and shoulders and insert burning wicks in the wounds. I saw some dragged in chains through the bazar preceded by a military band, in whom these wicks had burned so deep that now the fat flickered convulsively in the wound like a newly-extinguished lamp. Not seldom it happens that the unwearying ingenuity of the Orientals leads to fresh tortures. They will skin the soles of the Babi's feet, soak the wounds in boiling oil, shoe the foot like the hoof of a horse, and compel the victim to run. No cry escaped from the victim's breast; the torment is endured in dark silence by the numbed sensation of the fanatic; now he must run; the body cannot endure what the soul has endured; he falls. Give him the coup de grace! Put him out of his pain! No! The executioner swings the whip, and--I myself have had to witness it--the unhappy victim of hundredfold tortures and runs! This is the beginning of the end. As for the end itself, they hang the scorched and perforated bodies by their hands and feet to a tree head downwards, and now every Persian may try his marksmanship to heart's content from a fixed but not too proximate distance on the noble quarry placed at his disposal. I saw corpses torn by nearly 150 bullets.... When I read over again what I have written I am overcome by the thought that those who are with you in our dearly beloved Austria may doubt the full truth of the picture, and accuse me of exaggeration. Would to God that I had not lived to see it! But by the duties of my profession I was unhappily often, only too often, a witness of these abominations. At present I never leave my house, in order not to meet with fresh scenes of horror. After their death the Babis are hacked in two and either nailed to the city gate, or cast out into the plain as food for the dogs and jackals. Thus the punishment extends even beyond the limits which bound this bitter world, for Musulmans who are not buried have no right to enter the Prophet's Paradise. Since my whole soul revolts against such infamy, against such abominations as recent times, according to the judgment of all, present, I will no longer maintain my connection with the scene of such crimes."' (He goes on to say that he has already asked for his discharge, but has not yet received an answer.)" (E. G. Browne's "Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion," pp. 267-71.) "Ardishir Mirza was forced to act in consequence. He kept the gates of the city closed and guarded, giving orders to examine closely all those who might ask to leave. The people were urged to climb the walls near the Shimiran gate in order to see in the open field across the bridge the mutilated body of Sadiq. The prince governor called together the Kalantar or prefect of police, the Vazir of the city, the Darughih or police judge, and the heads of the boroughs and ordered them to seek and arrest all persons suspected of being Babis. As no one could leave the city, they waited until night-fall to start ferreting them out, ruse and cunning being the main requisites employed. "The police force in Tihran, as in all Asiatic cities, is very well organized. It is a legacy of the Sassanides which the Arabian Khalifs have carefully preserved. As it was to the advantage of all governments (no matter how bad, and even more so to the worst ones) to maintain it, it has remained, so to speak, unchanged, in the midst of the ruins of other institutions, equally efficient, which have decayed. "One should know that the head of every borough, always in touch with the Kalantar, has under him a few men called 'sar-ghishmihs,' policemen who, without either uniform or badge, never leave the streets which are assigned to them. They are generally well liked by the people and they live on familiar terms with them. They are helpful at all times and, at night, be it winter or summer, they recline under the awning of any store, indifferent to rain or snow, and watch over private property. In this way they reduce the number of thefts by rendering them difficult. Moreover, they know every dweller and his ways, so that they can assist in case of investigation; they know the minds, the opinions, the acquaintances, the relations of everyone; and if one asks three friends to dinner, the sar-ghishmih without spying, so well informed is he about everyone, knows the time of the arrival of the guests, what has been served, what has been said and done, and the time of their departure. The Kad-khudas warned these policemen to watch the Babis in their respective sections and everyone awaited the results." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 234-235.)] <p606>

Baha'u'llah, now that the Bab was no more, appeared in their eyes to be the arch-foe whom they deemed it their first duty to seize and imprison. To them He was the reincarnation of the Spirit the Bab had so powerfully manifested, the Spirit through which He had been able to accomplish so complete a transformation in the lives and habits of His countrymen. The precautions the Russian minister had taken, and the warning he had uttered, failed to stay the hand that had been outstretched with such determination against that precious Life.

From Shimiran to Tihran, Baha'u'llah was several times <p607> stripped of His garments, and was overwhelmed with abuse and ridicule. On foot and exposed to the fierce rays of the midsummer sun, He was compelled to cover, barefooted and bareheaded, the whole distance from Shimiran to the dungeon already referred to. All along the route, He was pelted and vilified by the crowds whom His enemies had succeeded in convincing that He was the sworn enemy of their sovereign and the wrecker of his realm. Words fail me to portray the horror of the treatment which was meted out to Him as He was being taken to the Siyah-Chal [1] of Tihran. As He was approaching the dungeon, and old and decrepit woman was seen to emerge from the midst of the crowd, with a stone in her hand, eager to cast it at the face of Baha'u'llah. Her eyes glowed with a determination and fanaticism of which few women of her age were capable. Her whole frame shook with rage as she stepped forward and raised her hand to hurl her missile at Him. "By the Siyyidu'sh-Shuhada,[2 I adjure you," she pleaded, as she ran to overtake those into whose hands Baha'u'llah had been delivered, "give me a chance to fling my stone in his face!" "Suffer not this woman to be <p608> disappointed," were Baha'u'llah's words to His guards, as He saw her hastening behind Him. "Deny her not what she regards as a meritorious act in the sight of God."

[1 Name of the dungeon, meaning "Black Pit."]

[2 The Imam Husayn.]

The Siyah-Chal, into which Baha'u'llah was thrown, originally a reservoir of water for one of the public baths of Tihran, was a subterranean dungeon in which criminals of the worst type were wont to be confined. The darkness, the filth, and the character of the prisoners, combined to make of that pestilential dungeon the most abominable place to which human beings could be condemned. His feet were placed in stocks, and around His neck were fastened the Qara-Guhar chains, infamous throughout Persia for their galling weight.[1] For three days and three nights, no manner of food or drink was given to Baha'u'llah. Rest and sleep were both impossible to Him. The place was infested with vermin, and the stench of that gloomy abode was enough to crush the very spirits of those who were condemned to suffer its horrors. Such were the conditions under which He was held down that even one of the executioners who were watching over Him was moved with pity. Several times this man attempted to induce Him to take some tea which he had managed to introduce into the dungeon under the cover of his garments. Baha'u'llah, however, would refuse to drink it. His family often endeavoured to persuade the <p609> guards to allow them to carry the food they had prepared for Him into His prison. Though at first no amount of pleading would induce the guards to relax the severity of their discipline, yet gradually they yielded to His friends' importunity. No one could be sure, however, whether that food would eventually reach Him, or whether He would consent to eat it whilst a number of His fellow-prisoners were starving before His eyes. Surely greater misery than had befallen these innocent victims of the wrath of their sovereign, could hardly be imagined.[2]

[1 "If sometime thou shouldst happen to visit the prison of His Majesty the Shah, ask thou the director and chief of that place to show thee those two chains, one of which is known as Qara-Guhar and the other as Salasil. I swear by the Day-star of Justice, that during four months, I was weighted and tormented by one of these chains. 'The sorrow of Jacob paleth before my sorrow; and all the afflictions of Job were but a part of my calamities.'" ("The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," p. 57.) "Concerning the Persian mode of imprisonment, the practice is as different from our own as in the case of penalties. There is no such thing as penal servitude for life, or even for a term of years; hard labour is unknown as a sentence; and confinement for any lengthy period is rare. There is usually a gaol-delivery at the beginning of the new year; and when a fresh governor is appointed, he not uncommonly empties the prison that may have been filled by his predecessor, one or two of the worst cases, perhaps, suffering the death penalty, in order to create a salutary impression of strength. There is no such thing as a female ward, women being detained, as also are male criminals of high rank, in the house of a priest. In Tihran there are said to be three kinds of prison the subterranean cells beneath the Ark, where criminals guilty of conspiracy, or high treason are reported to have been confined; the town prison, where the vulgar criminals may be seen with iron collars round their neck, sometimes with their feet in stocks, and attached to each other by iron chains; and the private guard-house, that is frequently an appurtenance of the mansions of the great. It will be seen that the Persian theory of justice, as expressed both in judicial sentences, in the infliction of penalties, and in the prison code, is one of sharp and rapid procedure, whose object is the punishment (in a manner as roughly equivalent as possible to the original offence), but in no sense the reformation, of the culprit." Lord Curzon's "Persia and the Persian Question," vol. i, pp. 458-9.)]

[2 "We had nothing to do with this odious deed, and Our innocence was indisputably proved before the tribunals. Nevertheless, they arrested Us and brought Us to the prison in Tihran, from Niyavaran, which was then the seat of the royal residence; on foot, in chains, and with bare head and feet, for a brutal fellow who was accompanying Us on horseback snatched the hat from Our head, and many executioners and farrashes hurried Us along with great speed and put Us for four months in a place the like of which has not been seen. In reality, a dark and narrow cell were far better than the place where this wronged One and His companions were confined. When We entered the prison, on arrival, they conducted us along a dismal corridor, and thence We descended three steep stairs to the dungeon appointed for Us. The place was dark, and its inmates numbered nearly a hundred and fifty--thieves, assassins, and highway robbers. Holding such a crowd as this, it yet had no outlet but the passage through which We entered. The pen fails to describe this place and putrid stench. Most of the company had neither clothes to wear nor mat to lie on. God knows what We endured in that gloomy and loathsome place! By day and by night, in this prison We reflected on the condition of the Babis and their doings and affairs, wondering how, notwithstanding their greatness of soul, nobility, and intelligence, they could be capable of such a deed as this audacious attempt on the life of the sovereign. Then did this wronged One determine that, on leaving this prison, He would arise with the utmost endeavour for the regeneration of these souls. One night, in a dream, this all-glorious word was heard from all sides: 'Verily We will aid Thee to triumph by Thyself and by Thy pen. Grieve not for that which hath befallen Thee, and have no fear. Truly Thou art of them that are secure. Ere long shall the Lord send forth and reveal the treasures of the earth, men who shall give Thee the victory by Thyself and by Thy name wherewith the Lord hath revived the hearts of them that know.'" (Baha'u'llah's reference to the Siyah-Chal in "The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf.") "Abdu'l-Baha," writes Dr. J. E. Esslemont, "tells how one day He was allowed to enter the prison-yard to see His beloved Father when He came out for His daily exercise. Baha'u'llah was terribly altered, so ill He could hardly walk. His hair and beard unkempt, His neck galled and swollen from the pressure of a heavy steel collar, His body bent by the weight of His chains, and the sight made a never-to-be-forgotten impression on the mind of the sensitive boy." ("Baha'u'llah and the New Era," p. 61.)]

As to the youth Sadiq-i-Tabrizi, the fate he suffered was as cruel as it was humiliating. He was seized at the moment he was rushing towards the Shah, whom he had thrown from his horse, hoping to strike him with the sword he held in his hand. The Shatir-Bashi, together with the Mustawfiyu'l-Mamalik's attendants, fell upon him and, without attempting to learn who he was, slew him on the spot. Wishing to allay the excitement of the populace, they hewed his body into two halves, each of which they suspended to the public <p610> gaze at the entrance of the gates of Shimiran and Shah-'Abdu'l-'Azim.[1] His two other companions, Fathu'llah-i-Hakkak-i-Qumi and Haji Qasim-i-Nayrizi, who had succeeded in inflicting only slight wounds on the Shah, were subjected to inhuman treatment, to which they ultimately owed their death. Fathu'llah, though suffering unspeakable cruelties, obstinately refused to answer the questions they asked him. The silence he maintained in the face of manifold tortures, induced his persecutors to believe that he was devoid of the power of speech. Exasperated by the failure of their efforts, they poured molten lead down his throat, an act which brought his sufferings to an end.

[1 "They ordered the body of Sadiq, the Babi who had been murdered, to be tied to the tail of a mule and dragged over the stones as far as Tihran, so that the entire population could see that the conspirators had failed. At the same time, messengers were sent to Ardishir Mirza to dictate to him what he should do." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 234.)]

His comrade, Haji Qasim, was treated with a savagery still more revolting. On the very day Haji Sulayman Khan was being subjected to that terrible ordeal, this poor wretch was receiving similar treatment at the hands of his persecutors in Shimiran. He was stripped of his clothes, lighted <p611> candles were thrust into holes driven into his flesh, and he was thus paraded before the eyes of a multitude who yelled and cursed him. The spirit of revenge that animated those into whose hands he was delivered seemed insatiable. Day after day fresh victims were forced to expiate with their blood a crime which they had never committed, and of the circumstances of which they were wholly ignorant. Every ingenious device that the torture-mongers of Tihran could employ was applied with merciless severity to the bodies of these unfortunate ones who were neither brought to trial nor questioned, and whose right to plead and prove their innocence was entirely ignored.

Each of those days of terror witnessed the martyrdom of two companions of the Bab, one of whom was slain in Tihran, whilst the other met his fate in Shimiran. Both were subjected to the same manner of torture, both were handed over to the public to wreak their vengeance upon them. Those arrested were distributed among the various classes of people, whose messengers would visit the dungeon each day and claim their <p612> victim.[1] Conducting him to the scene of his death, they would give the signal for a general attack upon him, whereupon men and women would close upon their prey, tear his body to pieces, and so mutilate it that no trace of its original form would remain. Such ruthlessness amazed even the most brutal of the executioners, whose hands, however much accustomed to human slaughter, had never perpetrated the atrocities of which those people had proved themselves capable.[2]

[1 "It was on this occasion that Mirza Aqa Khan, the Grand Vazir, in order to distribute the responsibility of punishment and to lessen the chances of blood-revenge, conceived the extraordinary idea of assigning the several criminals for execution to the principal ministers, generals, and officers of the Court, as well as to representatives of the priestly and merchant classes. The Foreign Secretary killed one, the Home Secretary another, the Master of the Horse a third, and so on." (Lord Curzon's "Persia and the Persian Question," p. 402, note 2.)]

[2 "His Excellency resolved to divide the execution of the victims among the different departments of the state; the only person he exempted was himself. First came the Shah, who was entitled to Qisas, or legal retaliation, for his wound. To save the dignity of the crown, the steward of the household, as the Shah's representative, fired the first shot at the conspirator selected as his victim, and his deputies, the farrashes, completed the work. The Prime Minister's son headed the Home Office, and slew another Babi. Then came the Foreign Office. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, a pious, silly man, who spent his time in conning over the traditions of Muhammad, With averted face made the first swordcut, and then the Under-Secretary of State and clerks of the Foreign Office hewed their victim into pieces. The priesthood, the merchants, the artillery, the infantry, had each their allotted Babi. Even the Shah's admirable French physician, the late lamented Dr. Cloquet, was invited to show his loyalty by following the example of the rest of the Court. He excused himself, and pleasantly said he killed too many men professionally to permit him to increase their number by any voluntary homicide on his part. The Sadr was reminded that these barbarous and unheard-of proceedings were not only revolting in themselves, but would produce the utmost horror and disgust in Europe. Upon this he became very much excited, and asked angrily, 'Do you wish the vengeance of all the Babis to be concentrated upon me alone?' The following is an extract from the 'Tihran Gazette' of that day, and will serve as a specimen of a Persian 'leader': 'Some profligate, unprincipled individuals, destitute of religion, became disciples of the accursed Siyyid Ali-Muhammad Bab, who some years ago invented a new religion, and who afterwards met his doom. They were unable to prove the truth of their faith, the falsehood of which was visible. For instance, many of their books having fallen into our hands, they are found to contain nothing but pure infidelity. In worldly argument, too, they never were able to support their religion, which seemed fit only for entering into a contest with the Almighty. They then began to think of aspiring to sovereignty, and to endeavour to raise insurrections, hoping to profit by the confusion, and to pillage the property of their neighbours. A wretched miserable gang, whose chief, Mulla Shaykh Ali of Turshiz, styled himself the deputy of the former Bab, and who gave himself the title of High Majesty, collected round themselves some of the former companions of [the] Bab. They seduced to their principles some dissolute debauchees, one of whom was Haji Sulayman Khan, son of the late Yahya Khan of Tabriz. In the house of this Haji it was their practice to assemble for consultation, and to plan an attempt on the auspicious life of his Majesty. Twelve of their number, who were volunteers for the deed, were selected to execute their purpose, and to each of them were given pistols, daggers, etc. It was resolved that the above number should proceed to the Shah's residence at Niyavaran, and await their opportunity.' Then follows an account of the attack, which I have already given in sufficient detail. 'Six persons, whose crimes were not so clearly proved, were condemned to perpetual imprisonment; the remainder were divided among the priesthood, the doctors of the law, the chief servants of the court, the people of the town, merchants, tradesmen, artisans, who bestowed on them their deserts in the following manner: The mullas, priests, and learned body slew Mulla Shaykh Ali, the deputy of [the] Bab, who gave himself the title of Imperial Majesty, and who was the author of this atrocity. The princes slew Siyyid Hasan, of Khurasan, a man of noted profligacy, with pistol-shots, swords, and daggers. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, full of religious and moral zeal, took the first shot at Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin of Yazd, and the secretaries of his department finished him and cut him in pieces. The Nizamu'l-Mulk (son of the Prime Minister) slew Mulla Husayn. Mirza Abdu'l-Vahhab, of Shiraz, who was one of the twelve assassins, was slain by the brother and the sons of the Prime Minister; his other relations cut him in pieces. Mulla Fathu'llah, of Qum, who fired the shot which wounded the royal person, was killed thus: In the midst of the royal camp candles were placed in the body (by making incisions) and lighted. The steward of the household wounded him in the very place that he had injured the Shah, and then the attendants stoned him. The nobles of the court sent Shaykh Abbas of Tihran to hell. The Shah's personal attendants put to death Mulla-Baqir, one of the twelve. The Shah's master of the horse and the servants of the stable horse-shod Muhammad-Taqi of Shiraz, and then sent him to join his companions. The masters of the ceremonies and other nobles, with their deputies, slew Muhammad of Najaf-Abad with hatchets and maces, and sent him to the depths of hell. The artillerymen first dug out the eye of Muhammad-'Ali of Najaf-Abad and then blew him away from a mortar. The soldiers bayoneted Siyyid Husayn, of Milan, and sent him to hell. The cavalry slew Mirza Rafi'. The adjutant-general, generals, and colonels slew Siyyid Husayn.'" (Lady Sheil's "Glimpses of Life and Manners in Persia," pp. 277-81.) ."On that day, a spectacle was witnessed in the streets and bazaars of Tihran which the people can never forget. Even to this very day, it remains the topic of conversation; one still feels a shocking horror which the years have not been able to lessen. The people saw marching, between executioners, children and women with deep holes cut into their flesh in which lighted wicks were inserted. The victims were dragged with ropes and goaded on with whips. Children and women went forth singing this verse: 'In truth, we come from God and unto Him do we return.' Their voices were raised triumphant above the deep silence of the crowd, for the citizens of Tihran were neither mean nor great believers in Islam. When one of the victims fell to the ground and they prodded him up with bayonets, if the loss of blood which dripped from his wounds had left him any strength, he would begin to dance and to cry out with even greater enthusiasm: 'In truth, we come from God and unto Him do we return!' "Some of the children expired on the way. The executioners would throw their bodies under the feet of their fathers and sisters, who proudly walked over them without giving it a second thought. When the cortege reached the place of execution near the New Gate, the victims were given the choice between life and abjuration of their faith; they were even subjected to every form of intimidation. One of the executioners conceived the idea of saying to a father that, unless he yielded, he would cut the throats of his two sons on his very breast. The sons were quite young, the oldest about fourteen. Covered with blood, their flesh scorched, they were listening stoically to the threats. The father replied, while laying himself down, that he was ready and the older of the boys, claiming a prior right, requested to be the first to die. It may be that the executioner denied him even that last comfort. "At last, the tragedy was over and night fell upon a heap of formless bodies; the heads were tied in bundles to the posts of justice and the dogs on the outskirts of the city were crowding about. That day won for the Babis a larger number of secret followers than much exhortation could have done. "As I have said above, the impression caused by the terrifying impassibility of the martyrs was deep and lasting. I have often heard eye witnesses describe the scenes of that fateful day, men close to the government, some even holding important positions. While listening to them, one could easily have believed that they were all Babis, so great was their admiration for the events in which Islam played so inglorious a part, and so high a conception did they entertain of the resources, the hopes and the means of success of the new religion." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 248-250.) "These executions were not merely criminal, but foolish. The barbarity of the persecutors defeated its own ends, and instead of inspiring terror, gave the martyrs and opportunity of exhibiting a heroic fortitude which has done more than any propaganda, however skilful, could have done to ensure the triumph of the cause for which they died.... The impression produced by such exhibitions of courage and endurance was profound and lasting; nay, the faith which inspired the martyrs was often contagious, as the following incident shows. A certain Yazdi rough, noted for his wild and disorderly life, went to see the execution of some Babis, perhaps to scoff at them. But when he saw with what calmness and steadfastness they met torture and death, his feelings underwent so great a revulsion that he rushed forward crying, 'Kill me too! I am also a Babi!' And thus he continued to cry till he too was made a partaker in the doom he had come out only to gaze upon." (E. G. Browne's "A Year amongst the Persians," pp. 111-12.)] <p613>

Of all the tortures which an insatiable enemy inflicted upon its victims, none was more revolting in its character than that which characterised the death of Haji Sulayman Khan. He was the son of Yahya Khan, one of the officers in the service of the Nayibu's-Saltanih, who was the father of Muhammad Shah. He retained that same position in the early days of the reign of Muhammad Shah. Haji Sulayman Khan showed from his earliest years a marked disinclination to rank and office. Ever since the day of his acceptance of <p614> the Cause of the Bab, the petty pursuits in which the people around him were immersed excited his pity and contempt. The vanity of their ambitions had been abundantly demonstrated in his eyes. In his early youth, he felt a longing to escape from the turmoil of the capital and to seek refuge in the holy city of Karbila. There he met Siyyid Kazim and grew to be one of his most ardent supporters. His sincere piety, his frugality and love of seclusion were among the chief traits of his character. He tarried in Karbila until the day when the Call from Shiraz reached him through Mulla Yusuf-i-Ardibili and Mulla Mihdiy-Ku'i, both of whom were among his best-known friends. He enthusiastically embraced the Message of the Bab.[1] He had intended, upon his return from Karbila to Tihran, to join the defenders of the fort of Tabarsi, but arrived too late to achieve his purpose. He remained in the capital and continued to wear the kind of dress he had adopted in Karbila. The small turban he wore, and the white tunic which his black aba [2] concealed, were displeasing to the Amir-Nizam, who induced him to discard these garments and to clothe himself instead in a <p615> military uniform. He was made to wear the kulah,[3] a head-dress that was thought to be more in accordance with the rank his father held. Though the Amir insisted that he should accept a position in the service of the government, he obstinately refused to comply with his request. Most of his time was spent in the company of the disciples of the Bab, particularly those of His companions who had survived the struggle of Tabarsi. He surrounded them with a care and kindness truly surprising. He and his father were so influential that the Amir-Nizam was induced to spare his life and indeed to refrain from any acts of violence against him. Though he was present in Tihran when the seven companions of the Bab, with whom he was intimately associated, were martyred, neither the officials of the government nor any of the common people ventured to demand his arrest. Even in Tabriz, whither he had journeyed for the purpose of saving the life of the Bab, not one among the inhabitants of that city dared to lift a finger against him. The Amir-Nizam, who was duly informed of all his services to the Cause of the Bab, preferred to ignore his acts rather than precipitate a conflict with him and his father.

[1 According to Samandar (manuscript, p. 2), Sulayman Khan attained to the presence of the Bab in the course of His pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.]

[2 See Glossary.]

[3 See Glossary.]

Soon after the martyrdom of a certain Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin-i-Yazdi, a rumour was spread that those whom the government intended to put to death, among whom were Siyyid Husayn, the Bab's amanuensis, and Tahirih, were to be released and that further persecution of their friends was to be definitely abandoned. It was reported far and wide that the Amir-Nizam, deeming the hour of his death to be approaching, had been seized suddenly with a great fear and, in an agony of repentance, had exclaimed: "I am haunted by the vision of the Siyyid-i-Bab, whom I have caused to be martyred. I can now see the fearful mistake I have made. I should have restrained the violence of those who pressed me to shed his blood and that of his companions. I now perceive that the interests of the State required it." His successor, Mirza Aqa Khan, was similarly inclined in the early days of his administration, and was intending to inaugurate his ministry with a lasting reconciliation between him and the followers of the Bab. He was preparing to <p616> undertake that task when the attempt on the life of the Shah shattered his plans and threw the capital into a state of unprecedented confusion.

I have heard the Most Great Branch,[1] who in those days was a child of only eight years of age, recount one of His experiences as He ventured to leave the house in which He was then residing. "We had sought shelter, He told us, "in the house of My uncle, Mirza Isma'il. Tihran was in the throes of the wildest excitement. I ventured at times to sally forth from that house and to cross the street on My way to the market. I would hardly cross the threshold and step into the street, when boys of My age, who were running about, would crowd around Me crying, 'Babi! Babi. Knowing well the state of excitement into which all the inhabitants of the capital, both young and old, had fallen, I would deliberately ignore their clamour and quietly steal away to My home. One day I happened to be walking alone through the market on My way to My uncle's house. As I was looking behind Me, I found a band of little ruffians running fast to overtake Me. They were pelting Me with stones and shouting menacingly, 'Babi! Babi!' To intimidate them seemed to be the only way I could avert the danger with which I was threatened. I turned back and rushed towards them with such determination that they fled away in distress and vanished. I could hear their distant cry, 'The little Babi is fast pursuing us! He will surely overtake and slay us all!' As I was directing My steps towards home, I heard a man shouting at the top of his voice: 'Well done, you brave and fearless child! No one of your age would ever have been able, unaided, to withstand their attack.' From that day onward, I was never again molested by any of the boys of the streets, nor did I hear any offensive word fall from their lips."

[1 Abdu'l-Baha's title.]

Among those who, in the midst of the general confusion, were seized and thrown into prison was Haji Sulayman Khan, the circumstances of whose martyrdom I now proceed to relate. The facts I mention have been carefully sifted and verified by me, and I owe them, for the most part, to Aqay-i-Kalim, who was himself in those days in Tihran and was made <p617> to share the terrors and sufferings of his brethren. "On the very day of Haji Sulayman Khan's martyrdom," he informed me, "I happened to be present, with Mirza Abdu'l-Majid, at a gathering in Tihran at which a considerable number of the notables and dignitaries of the capital were present. Among them was Haji Mulla Mahmud, the Nizamu'l-'Ulama, who requested the Kalantar to describe the actual circumstances of the death of Haji Sulayman Khan. The Kalantar motioned with his finger to Mirza Taqi, the kad-khuda [1] who, he said, had conducted the victim from the vicinity of the imperial palace to the place of his execution, outside the gate of Naw. Mirza Taqi was accordingly requested to relate to those present all that he had seen and heard. 'I and my assistants,' he said, 'were ordered to purchase nine candles and to thrust them, ourselves into deep holes we were to cut in his flesh. We were instructed to light each one of these candles and to conduct him through the market to the accompaniment of drums and trumpets as far as the place of his execution. There we were ordered to hew his body into two halves, each of which we were asked to suspend on either side of the gate of Naw. He himself chose the manner in which he wished to be martyred. Hajibu'd-Dawlih [2] had been commanded by Nasiri'd-Din Shah to enquire into the complicity of the accused, and, if assured of his innocence, to induce him to recant. If he submitted, his life was to be spared and he was to be detained pending the final settlement of his case. In the event of his refusal, he was to be put to death in whatever manner he himself might desire.

[1 See Glossary.]

[2 His name was Haji Ali Khan. (See "A Traveller's Narrative," p. 52, note 1.)]

"'The investigation of hajibu'd-Dawlih convinced him of the innocence of Haji Sulayman Khan. The accused, as soon as he had been informed of the instructions of his sovereign, was heard joyously exclaiming: "Never, so long as my life-blood continues to pulsate in my veins, shall I be willing to recant my faith in my Beloved! This world which the Commander of the Faithful [1] has likened to carrion will never allure me from my heart's Desire." He was asked to <p618> determine the manner in which he wished to die. "Pierce holes in my flesh," was the instant reply, "and in each wound place a candle. Let nine candles be lighted all over my body, and in this state conduct me through the streets of Tihran. Summon the multitude to witness the glory of my martyrdom, so that the memory of my death may remain imprinted in their hearts and help them, as they recall the intensity of my tribulation, to recognize the Light I have embraced. After I have reached the foot of the gallows and have uttered the last prayer of my earthly life, cleave my body in twain and suspend my limbs on either side of the gate of Tihran, that the multitude passing beneath it may witness to the love which the Faith of the Bab has kindled in the hearts of His disciples, and may look upon the proofs of their devotion."

[1 The Imam Ali.]

"'Hajibu'd-Dawlih instructed his men to abide by the expressed wishes of Haji Sulayman Khan, and charged me to conduct him through the market as far as the place of his execution. As they handed to the victim the candles they had purchased, and were preparing to thrust their knives into his breast, he made a sudden attempt to seize the weapon from the executioner's trembling hands in order to plunge it himself into his flesh. "Why fear and hesitate?" he cried, as he stretched forth his arm to snatch the knife from his grasp. "Let me myself perform the deed and light the candles." Fearing lest he should attack us, I ordered my men to resist his attempt and bade them tie his hands behind his back. "Let me," he pleaded, point out with my fingers the places into which I wish them to thrust their dagger, for I have no other request to make besides this."

"'He asked them to pierce two holes in his breast, two in his shoulders, one in the nape of his neck, and the four others in his back. With stoic calm he endured those tortures. Steadfastness glowed in his eyes as he maintained a mysterious and unbroken silence. Neither the howling of the multitude nor the sight of the blood that streamed all over his body could induce him to interrupt that silence. Impassive and serene he remained until all the nine candles were placed in position and lighted.

"'When all was completed for his march to the scene <p619> of his death, he, standing erect as an arrow and with that same unflinching fortitude gleaming upon his face, stepped forward to lead the concourse that was pressing round him to the place that was to witness the consummation of his martyrdom. Every few steps he would interrupt his march and, gazing at the bewildered bystanders, would shout: "What greater pomp and pageantry than those which this day accompany my progress to win the crown of glory! Glorified be the Bab, who can kindle such devotion in the breasts of His lovers, and can endow them with a power greater than the might of kings!" At times, as if intoxicated with the fervour of that devotion, he would exclaim: "The Abraham of a bygone age, as He prayed God, in the hour of bitter agony, to send down upon Him the refreshment for which His soul was crying, heard the voice of the Unseen proclaim: 'O fire! Be thou cold, and to Abraham a safety![1] But this Sulayman is crying out from the depths of his ravaged heart: 'Lord, Lord, let Thy fire burn unceasingly within me, and suffer its flame to consume my being.'" As his eyes saw the wax flicker in his wounds, he burst forth in an acclamation of frantic delight: "Would that He whose hand has enkindled my soul were here to behold my state!" "Think me not to be intoxicated with the wine of this earth!" he cried to the vast throng who stood aghast at the sight of his behaviour. It is the love of my Beloved that has filled my soul and made me feel endowed with a sovereignty which even kings might envy!"

[1 Qur'an, 21:69.]

"'I cannot recall the exclamations of joy which fell from his lips as he drew near to his end. All I remember are but a few of the stirring words which, in his moments of exultation, he was moved to cry out to the concourse of spectators. Words fail me to portray the expression of that countenance or to measure the effect of his words on the multitude.

"'He was still in the bazaar when the blowing of a breeze excited the burning of the candles that were placed upon his breast. As they melted rapidly, their flames reached the level of the wounds into which they had been thrust. We who were following a few steps behind him could hear distinctly the sizzling of his flesh. The sight of gore and fire <p620> which covered his body, instead of silencing his voice, appeared to heighten his unquenchable enthusiasm. He could still be heard, this time addressing the flames, as they ate into his wounds: "You have long lost your sting, O flames, and have been robbed of your power to pain me. Make haste, for from your very tongues of fire I can hear the voice that calls me to my Beloved!"

"'Pain and suffering seemed to have melted away in the ardour of that enthusiasm. Enveloped by the flames, he walked as a conqueror might have marched to the scene of his victory. He moved through the excited crowd a blaze of light amidst the gloom that surrounded him. Arriving at the foot of the gallows, he again raised his voice in a last appeal to the multitude of onlookers: "Did not this Sulayman whom you now see before you a prey to fire and blood, enjoy until recently all the favours and riches the world can bestow? What could have caused him to renounce this earthly glory and accept in return such great degradation and suffering?" Prostrating himself in the direction of the shrine of the Imam-Zadih Hasan, he murmured certain words in Arabic which I could not understand. "My work is now finished!" he cried to the executioner, as soon as his prayer was ended. "Come and do yours!" He was still alive when his body was hewn into two halves with a hatchet. The praise of his Beloved, despite such incredible sufferings, lingered upon his lips until the last moment of his life.'[1]

[1 "The extraordinary heroism with which Sulayman Khan bore these frightful tortures is notorious and I have repeatedly heard it related how he ceased not during the long agony which he endured to testify his joy that he should be accounted worthy to suffer martyrdom for his Master's cause. He even sang and recited verses of poetry, amongst them the following: 'I have returned! I have returned! I have come by the way of Shiraz! I have come with winsome airs and graces! Such is the lover's madness!' 'Why do you not dance,' asked the executioners mockingly, 'since you find death so pleasant?' 'Dance!' cried Sulayman Khan. 'In one hand the wine-cup, in one hand the tresses of the Friend. Such a dance in the midst of the market-place is my desire!'" ("A Traveller's Narrative," Note T, pp. 333-4.) He was martyred in August, 1852. "When they arrested Sulayman Khan, and strove, in consideration of his faithful service and loyalty, to induce him, by promises of rewards from the king, to abandon the creed which he had adopted, he would not consent, but answered firmly: 'His Majesty the King has a right to demand from his servants fidelity, loyalty, and uprightness; but he is not entitled to meddle with their religious convictions.' In consequence of this boldness of speech, it was ordered that his body should be pierced with wounds, and that into each of these wounds a lighted candle should be inserted as an example to others. Another victim was similarly treated. In this state, with minstrels and drummers going in advance, they led him through the bazaars, and he, meanwhile, with smiling countenance, kept repeating these verses: 'Happy he whom love's intoxication So hath overcome that scare he knows Whether at the feet of the Beloved It be head or turban which he throws!' Whenever one of the candles fell from his body, he would with his own hand pick it up, light it from the others, and replace it. The executioners, seeing in him such exultation and rapture said: 'If thou art so eager for martyrdom, why dost thou not dance?' Thereat he began to leap, and to sing, in verses appropriate to his condition: 'An ear no longer dulled with ignorance And self-subdued entitles one to dance. Fools dance and caper in the market-place; Men dance the while their life-blood flows apace. When self is slain, they clap their hands in glee, And dance, because from evil they are free.' In such fashion did they lead these two forth through the gate of Shah Abdu'l-Azim. When they were preparing to saw that brave man asunder, he stretched out his feet without fear or hesitation, while he recited these verses: I hold this body as of little worth; A brave man's spirit scorns its house of earth. Dagger and sword like fragrant basil seem, Or flowers to deck death's banquet with their gleam.'" (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 228-30.)]

"That tragic tale stirred the listeners to the very depths of their souls. The Nizamu'l-'Ulama, who was listening intently <p621> to all its details, wrung his hands in horror and despair. How strange, how very strange, is this Cause!' he exclaimed. Without adding a further word of comment, he, immediately after, arose and departed."[1]

[1 "If one conclusion more than another has been forced upon our notice by the retrospect in which I have indulged, it is that a sublime and unmurmuring devotion has been inculcated by this new faith, whatever it be. There is, I believe, but one instance of a Babi having recanted under pressure or menace of suffering, and he reverted to the faith and was executed with two years. Tales of magnificent heroism illumine the blood-stained pages of Babi history. Ignorant and unlettered as many of the votaries are, and have been, they are yet prepared to die for their religion, and the fires of Smithfield did not kindle a nobler courage than has met and defined the more refined torture-mongers of Tihran. Of no small account, then, must be the tenets of a creed that can awaken in its followers so rare and beautiful a spirit of self-sacrifice.... It is these little incidents, protruding from time to time their ugly features, that prove Persia to be not as yet quite redeemed, and that somewhat a stagger the tall-takers about Iranian civilization." (Lord Curzon's "Persia and the Persian Question," vol. 1, p. 501.)]

Those days of unceasing turmoil witnessed the martyrdom of yet another eminent disciple of the Bab. A woman, no less great and heroic than Tahirih herself, was engulfed in the storm that was then raging with undiminished violence throughout the capital. What I now begin to relate regarding the circumstances of her martyrdom has been obtained from trustworthy informants, some of whom were themselves witnesses of the events I am attempting to describe. Her stay in Tihran was marked by many proofs of the warm <p622> affection and high esteem in which she was held by the leading women of the capital. She had reached, indeed, in those days, the high-water mark of her popularity.[1] The house where she was confined was besieged by her women admirers, who thronged her doors, eager to enter her presence and to seek the benefit of her knowledge.[2] Among these ladies, the wife of Kalantar [3] distinguished herself by the extreme reverence she showed to Tahirih. Acting as her hostess, she introduced into her presence the flower of womanhood in Tihran, served her with extraordinary enthusiasm, and never failed to contribute her share in deepening her influence among her womenfolk. Persons with whom the wife of Kalantar was intimately connected have heard her relate the following: "One night, whilst Tahirih was staying in my home, I was summoned to her presence and found her fully adorned, dressed in a gown of snow-white silk. Her room was redolent with the choicest perfume. I expressed to her my surprise at so unusual a sight. 'I am preparing to meet my Beloved,' she said, 'and wish to free you from the cares <p623> and anxieties of my imprisonment.' I was much startled at first, and wept at the thought of separation from her. 'Weep not, she sought to reassure me. 'The time of your lamentation is not yet come. I wish to share with you my last wishes, for the hour when I shall be arrested and condemned to suffer martyrdom is fast approaching. I would request you to allow your son to accompany me to the scene of my death and to ensure that the guards and executioner into whose hands I shall be delivered will not compel me to divest myself of this attire. It is also my wish that my body be thrown into a pit, and that that pit be filled with earth and stones. Three days after my death a woman will come and visit you, to whom you will give this package which I now deliver into your hands. My last request is that you permit no one henceforth to enter my chamber. From now until the time when I shall be summoned to leave this house, let no one be allowed to disturb my devotions. This day I intend to fast-- a fast which I shall not break until I am brought face to face <p624> with my Beloved.' She bade me, with these words, lock the door of her chamber and not open it until the hour of her departure should strike. She also urged me to keep secret the tidings of her death until such time as her enemies should themselves disclose it.

[1 "She remained in Tihran a long time receiving numerous visitors both men and women. She aroused the women by showing them the abject role which Islam assigned to them and she won them over to the new religion by showing them the freedom and respect which it would bestow upon them. Many domestic disputes followed, not always to the advantage and credit of the husband. These discussions might have continued at length, if Mirza Aqa Khan-i-Nuri had not been appointed Sadr-i-A'zam. The premier ordered Haji Mulla Muhammad Andirmani and Haji Mulla Ali Kini to call on her in order to examine into her belief. They held seven conferences with her in which she argued with much feeling and affirmed that the Bab was the promised and expected Imam. Her adversaries called her attention to the fact that, in accordance with the prophecies, the promised Imam was to come from Jabulqa and Jabulsa. She retorted feelingly that those prophecies were false and forged by false traditionalists and, as these two cities never existed, they could only be the superstitions of diseased brains. She expounded the new doctrine, bringing out its truth, but always encountered the same argument of Jabulqa. Exasperated, she finally told them: 'Your reasoning is that of an ignorant and stupid child; how long will you cling to these follies and lies? When will you lift your eyes towards the Sun of Truth?' Shocked by such blasphemy, Haji Mulla Ali rose up and led his friend away saying, 'Why prolong our discussion with an infidel?' They returned home and wrote out the sentence which established her apostasy and her refusal to retract, and condemned her to death in the name of the Qur'an!" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 446-447.)]

[2 "While a prisoner in the house of the Kalantar, the marriage of the son of the family took place. Naturally, the wives of all the prominent men were invited; but, although the host had gone to a great deal of expense to provide the customary entertainment, the women loudly demanded that Qurratu'l-'Ayn be brought before the company. She had hardly appeared and begun to speak when the musicians and dancers were dismissed. The ladies, forgetful of the sweets of which they were so fond, had eyes only for Qurratu'l-'Ayn." (Ibid., p. 448.)]

[3 Mahmud Khan-i-Kalantar, in whose custody she was placed.]

"The great love I cherished for her in my heart, alone enabled me to abide by her instructions. But for the compelling desire I felt to fulfil her wishes, I would never have consented to deprive myself of one moment of her presence. I locked the door of her chamber and retired to my own, in a state of uncontrollable sorrow. I lay sleepless and disconsolate upon my bed. The thought of her approaching martyrdom lacerated my soul. 'Lord, Lord,' I prayed in my despair, 'turn from her, if it be Thy wish, the cup which her lips desire to drink.' That day and night, I several times, unable to contain myself, arose and stole away to the threshold of that room and stood silently at her door, eager to listen to whatever might be falling from her lips. I was enchanted by the melody of that voice which intoned the praise of her Beloved. I could hardly remain standing upon my feet, so <p625> great was my agitation. Four hours after sunset, I heard a knocking at the door. I hastened immediately to my son, and acquainted him with the wishes of Tahirih. He pledged his word that he would fulfil every instruction she had given me. It chanced that night that my husband was absent. My son, who opened the door, informed me that the farrashes [1] of Aziz Khan-i-Sardar were standing at the gate, demanding that Tahirih be immediately delivered into their hands. I was struck with terror by the news, and, as I tottered to her door and with trembling hands unlocked it, found her veiled and prepared to leave her apartment. She was pacing the floor when I entered, and was chanting a litany expressive of both grief and triumph. As soon as she saw me, she approached and kissed me. She placed in my hand the key to her chest, in which she said she had left for me a few trivial things as a remembrance of her stay in my house. Whenever you open this chest,' she said, 'and behold the things it contains, you will, I hope, remember me and rejoice in my gladness.'

[1 See Glossary.]

"With these words she bade me her last farewell, and, accompanied by my son, disappeared from before my eyes. What pangs of anguish I felt that moment, as I beheld her beauteous form gradually fade away in the distance! She mounted the steed which the Sardar had sent for her, and, escorted by my son and a number of attendants, who marched on each side of her, rode out to the garden that was to be the scene of her martyrdom.

"Three hours later my son returned, his face drenched with tears, hurling imprecations at the Sardar and his abject lieutenants. I tried to calm his agitation, and, seating him beside me, asked him to relate as fully as he could the circumstances of her death. 'Mother,' he sobbingly replied, 'I can scarcely attempt to describe what my eyes have beheld. We straightway proceeded to the Ilkhani garden,[1]<p626> outside the gate of the city. There I found, to my horror, the Sardar and his lieutenants absorbed in acts of debauchery and shame, flushed with wine and roaring with laughter. Arriving at the gate, Tahirih dismounted and, calling me to her, asked me to act as her intermediary with the Sardar, whom she said she was disinclined to address in the midst of his revelry. 'They apparently wish to strangle me,' she said. 'I set aside, long ago, a silken kerchief which I hoped would be used for this purpose. I deliver it into your hands and wish you to induce that dissolute drunkard to use it as a means whereby he can take my life.'

[1 "Across from the English Legation and the Turkish Embassy stretched a rather vast square which since 1893 has disappeared. Toward the center of this square, but in line with the street, stood five or six trees which marked the spot where the Babi heroine had died, for in those days the garden of Ilkhani extended that far. On my return in 1898 the square had entirely disappeared overrun by modern buildings and I do not know whether the present owner has saved those trees which pious hands had planted." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 452.)]

"When I went to the Sardar, I found him in a state of wretched intoxication. 'Interrupt not the gaiety of our festival!' I heard him shout as I approached him. 'Let that miserable wretch be strangled and her body be thrown into a pit!' I was greatly surprised at such an order. Believing it unnecessary to venture any request from him, I went to two of his attendants, with whom I was already acquainted, and gave them the kerchief with which Tahirih had entrusted me. They consented to grant her request. That same kerchief was wound round her neck and was made the instrument of her martyrdom. I hastened immediately afterwards to the gardener and asked him whether <p627> he could suggest a place where I could conceal the body. He directed me, to my great delight, to a well that had been dug recently and left unfinished. With the help of a few others, I lowered her into her grave and filled the well with earth and stones in the manner she herself had wished. Those who saw her in her last moments were profoundly affected. With downcast eyes and rapt in silence, they mournfully dispersed, leaving their victim, who had shed so imperishable a lustre upon their country, buried beneath a mass of stones which they, with their own hands, had heaped upon her.

I wept hot tears as my son unfolded to my eyes that tragic tale. I was so overcome with emotion that I fell prostrate and unconscious upon the ground. When I had recovered, I found my son a prey to an agony no less severe than my own. He lay upon his couch, weeping in a passion of devotion. Beholding my plight, he approached and comforted me. 'Your tears,' he said, 'will betray you in the eyes of my father. Considerations of rank and position will, no doubt, induce him to forsake us and sever whatever ties bind him to this home. He will, if we fail to repress our tears, accuse us before Nasiri'd-Din Shah, as victims of the charm of a hateful enemy. He will obtain the sovereign's consent to our death, and will probably, with his own hands, proceed to slay us. Why should we, who have never embraced that Cause, allow ourselves to suffer such a fate at his hands? All we should do is to defend her against those who denounce her as the very negation of chastity and honour. We should ever treasure her love in our hearts and maintain in the face of a slanderous enemy the integrity of that life.'

"His words allayed my inner agitation. I went to her chest and, with the key she had placed in my hand, opened it. I found a small vial of the choicest perfume, beside which lay a rosary, a coral necklace, and three rings, mounted with turquoise, cornelian, and ruby stones. As I gazed upon her earthly belongings, I mused over the circumstances of her eventful life, and recalled, with a throb of wonder, her intrepid courage, her zeal, her high sense of duty and unquestioning devotion. I was reminded of her literary attainments, and brooded over the imprisonments, the shame, and the calumny which she had faced with a fortitude such as no other woman <p628> in her land could manifest. I pictured to myself that winsome face which now, alas, lay buried beneath a mass of earth and stones. The memory of her passionate eloquence warmed my heart, as I repeated to myself the words that had so often dropped from her lips. The consciousness of the vastness of her knowledge, and her mastery of the sacred Scriptures of Islam, flashed through my mind with a suddenness that disconcerted me. Above all, her passionate loyalty to the Faith she had embraced, her fervour as she pleaded its cause, the services she rendered it, the woes and tribulations she endured for its sake, the example she had given to its followers, the impetus she had lent to its advancement the name she had carved for herself in the hearts of her fellow-countrymen, all these I remembered as I stood beside her chest, wondering what could have induced so great a woman to forsake all the riches and honours with which she had been surrounded and to identify herself with the cause of an obscure youth from Shiraz. What could have been the secret, I thought to myself, of the power that tore her away from her home and kindred, that sustained her throughout her stormy career, and eventually carried her to her grave? Could that force, I pondered, be of God? Could the hand of the Almighty have guided her destiny and steered her course amidst the perils of her life?

"On the third day after her martyrdom,[1] the woman whose coming she had promised arrived. I enquired her name, and, finding it to be the same as the one Tahirih had told me, delivered into her hands the package with which I had been entrusted. I had never before met that woman, nor did I ever see her again."[2]

[1 August, 1852 A.D.]

[2 See Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1889, article 6, p. 492.]

The name of that immortal woman was Fatimih, a name which her father had bestowed upon her. She was surnamed Umm-i-Salmih by her family and kindred, who also designated her as Zakiyyih. She was born in the year 1233 A.H.,[1] the very year which witnessed the birth of Baha'u'llah. She was thirty-six years of age when she suffered martyrdom in Tihran. May future generations be enabled to present a <p629> worthy account of a life which her contemporaries have failed adequately to recognize. May future historians perceive the full measure of her influence, and record the unique services this great woman has rendered to her land and its people. May the followers of the Faith which she served so well strive to follow her example, recount her deeds, collect her writings, unfold the secret of her talents, and establish her, for all time, in the memory and affections of the peoples and kindreds of the earth.[2]

[1 1817-18 A.D.]

[2 "Beauty and the female see also lent their consecration to the new creed and the heroism of the lovely but ill-fated poetess of Qazvin, Zarrin-Taj (Crown of Gold; or Qurratu'l-'Ayn (Solace of the Eyes), who, throwing off the veil, carried the missionary torch far and wide, is one of the most affecting episodes in modern history." (Lord Curzon's "Persia and the Persian Question," vol. 1, p. 497, note 2.) "No memory is more deeply venerated or kindles greater enthusiasm than hers, and the influence which she wielded in her lifetime still inures to her sex." (Valentine Chirol's "The Middle Eastern Question," p. 124.) "The appearance of such a woman as Qurratu'l-'Ayn is in any country and any age a rare phenomenon, but in such a country as Persia it is a prodigy--nay, almost a miracle. Alike in virtue of her marvellous beauty, her rare intellectual gifts, her fervid eloquence her fearless devotion, and her glorious martyrdom, she stands forth incomparable and immortal amidst her countrywomen. Had the Babi religion no other claim to greatness, this were sufficient--that it produced a heroine like Qurratu'l-'Ayn." ("A Traveller's Narrative," Note Q, p. 213.) "Almost the most remarkable figure in the whole movement was the poetess Qurratu'l-'Ayn. She was known for her virtue, piety, and learning, and had been finally converted on reading some of the verses and exhortations of the Bab. So strong in her faith did she become that although she was both rich and noble she gave up wealth, child, name and position for her Master's service and set herself to proclaim and establish his doctrine... The beauty of her speech was such as to draw guests from a marriage feast rather than listen to the music provided by the host. And her verses were among the most stirring in the Persian language." (Sir Francis Younghusband's "The Gleam," pp. 202-3.) "Looking back on the short career or Qurratu'l-'Ayn, one is chiefly struck by her fiery enthusiasm and by her absolute unworldliness. This world was, in fact, to her, as it was said to be to Quddus, a mere handful of dust. She was also an eloquent speaker and experienced in the intricate measures of Persian poetry. One of her few Poems which have thus far been made known is of special interest, because of the belief which it expresses in the divine-human character of some one (here called Lord), whose claims, when once adduced, would receive general recognition. Who was this Personage? It appears that Qurratu'l-'Ayn thought Him slow in bringing forward these claims. Is there any one who can be thought of but Baha'u'llah? The poetess was a true Baha'i." (Dr. T. K. Cheyne's "The Reconciliation of Races and Religions," pp. 114, 115.) "The harvest sown in Islamic lands by Qurratu'l-'Ayn is now beginning to appear. A letter addressed to the "Christian Commonwealth" last June informs us that forty Turkish suffragettes are being deported from Constantinople to Akka (so long the prison of Baha'u'llah): 'During the last few years suffrage ideas have been spreading quietly behind in the harems. The men were ignorant of it; everybody was ignorant of it; and now suddenly the floodgate is opened and the men of Constantinople have thought it necessary to resort to drastic measures. Suffrage clubs have been organised, intelligent memorials incorporating the women's demands have been drafted and circulated; women's journals and magazines have sprung up, publishing excellent articles; and public meetings were held. Then one day the members of these clubs--four hundred of them--cast away their veils. The staid, fossilised class of society were shocked, the good Musulmans were alarmed, and the Government forced into action. These four hundred liberty-loving women were divided into several groups. One group composed of forty have been exiled to Akka, and will arrive in a few days. Everybody is talking about it, and it is really surprising to see how numerous are those in favour of removing the veils from the faces of the women. Many men with whom I have talked think the custom not only archaic, but thought-stifling. The Turkish authorities, thinking to extinguish this light of liberty, have greatly added to its flame, and their high-handed action has materially assisted the creation of a wider public opinion and a better understanding of this crucial problem.'" (Ibid., pp. 115-16.) ."The other missionary, the woman to whom I refer, had come to Qazvin. She was without doubt, at the same time, the object of the Babis highest veneration and one of the most strikingly fascinating manifestations of that religion." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 136.) "Many who have known her and heard her at different times have stated that, for a person so learned and so well read, the outstanding characteristic of her discourse was an amazing simplicity and still, when she spoke, her audience was deeply stirred and filled with admiration, often in tears." (Ibid., p. 150.) "Although the Muhammadans and Babis speak in the highest terms of the beauty of 'Consolation of the Eyes,' it is beyond dispute that the intelligence and character of this young woman were even more remarkable than has been related. Having heard, almost daily, learned conversations, it seems that, at an early age, she had taken a deep interest in them; hence it came about that she was perfectly able to follow the subtle arguments of her father, her uncle, her cousin and now her husband, and even to debate with them and frequently to astonish them with the power and keenness of her mind. In Persia, one does not frequently see women engaged in intellectual pursuits but, nevertheless, it does sometimes occur. What is really extraordinary is to find a woman of the ability of Qurratu'l-'Ayn. Not only did she carry her knowledge of Arabic to an unusual degree of perfection, but she became also outstanding in the knowledge of the traditions of Islam and of the varied interpretations of the disputed passages of the Qur'an and of the great writers. In Qazvin, she was rightly considered a prodigy." (Ibid., p. 137.)]

Another distinguished figure among the disciples of the Bab who met his death during the turbulent time that had overwhelmed Tihran was Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi, who was the Bab's amanuensis both in Mah-Ku and Chihriq. Such was his knowledge of the teachings of the Faith that the Bab, in a Tablet addressed to Mirza Yahya, urged the latter to seek enlightenment from him in whatever might pertain to the sacred writings. A man of standing and experience, in whom the Bab reposed the utmost confidence and with whom he had been intimately associated, he suffered, after the martyrdom of his Master in Tabriz, the agony of a long confinement in the subterranean dungeon of Tihran, which confinement terminated in his martyrdom. To a very great <p630> extent, Baha'u'llah helped to allay the hardships from which he suffered. Regularly every month He sent him whatever financial assistance he required. He was praised and admired even by the gaolers who watched over him. His long and intimate companionship with the Bab, during the last and stormiest days of His life, had deepened his understanding and endowed his soul with a power which he was destined to manifest more and more as the days of his earthly life drew near to their close. He lay in the prison, longing for the time when he should be called upon to suffer a death similar to that of his Master. Deprived of the privilege of being martyred on the same day as the Bab, a privilege which it had been his supreme desire to attain, he now eagerly awaited the hour when he, in his turn, should drain to the very dregs the cup that had touched His lips. Many a time did the leading officials of Tihran strive to induce him to accept their offer to deliver him from the rigours of his imprisonment, as well as from the prospect of a still more cruel death. He steadfastly refused. Tears flowed unceasingly from his eyes --tears born of his longing to see again that face whose radiance had shone so brightly amidst the darkness of a cruel incarceration in Adhirbayjan, and whose glow warmed the chill <p631> of its wintry nights. As he mused in the gloom of his prison cell over those blissful days spent in the presence of his Master, there came to him One who alone could banish, by the light of His presence, the anguish that had settled upon his soul. His Comforter was none other than Baha'u'llah Himself. In His company Siyyid Husayn was privileged to remain until the hour of his death. The hand of Aziz Khan-i-Sardar, which had struck down Tahirih, was the hand that dealt the fatal blow to the Bab's amanuensis and sometime fellow-prisoner in Adhirbayjan. I need not expatiate upon the circumstances of the death which that murderous Sardar inflicted upon him. Suffice it to say that he too, like those who went before, drank, in circumstances of shameful cruelty, the cup for which he had so long and so deeply yearned.

I now proceed to relate what befell the remaining companions of the Bab, those who had been privileged to share the horrors of the confinement with Baha'u'llah. From His own lips I have often heard the following account: "All those who were struck down by the storm that raged during that memorable year in Tihran were Our fellow-prisoners in the Siyah-Chal, where We were confined. We were all huddled together in one cell, our feet in stocks, and around our necks fastened the most galling of chains. The air we breathed was laden with the foulest impurities, while the floor on which <p632> we sat was covered with filth and infested with vermin. No ray of light was allowed to penetrate that pestilential dungeon or to warm its icy-coldness. We were placed in two rows, each facing the other. We had taught them to repeat certain verses which, every night, they chanted with extreme fervour. 'God is sufficient unto me; He verily is the All-sufficing!' one row would intone, while the other would reply: 'In Him let the trusting trust.' The chorus of these gladsome voices would continue to peal out until the early hours of the morning. Their reverberation would fill the dungeon, and, piercing its massive walls, would reach the ears of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, whose palace was not far distant from the place where we were imprisoned. 'What means this sound?' he was reported to have exclaimed. 'It is the anthem the Babis are intoning in their prison,' they replied. The Shah made no further remarks, nor did he attempt to restrain the enthusiasm his prisoners, despite the horrors of their confinement, continued to display.

"One day, there was brought to Our prison a tray of roasted meat, which they informed Us the Shah had ordered to be distributed among the prisoners. 'The Shah,' We were told, 'faithful to a vow he made, has chosen this day to offer to you all this lamb in fulfilment of his pledge.' A deep silence fell upon Our companions, who expected Us to make answer on their behalf. 'We return this gift to you,' We replied; 'we can well dispense with this offer.' The answer We made would have greatly irritated the guards had they not been eager to devour the food we had refused to touch. Despite the hunger with which Our companions were afflicted, only one among them, a certain Mirza Husayn-i-Matavalliy-i-Qumi, showed any desire to eat of the food the sovereign had chosen to spread before us. With a fortitude that was truly heroic, Our fellow-prisoners submitted, without a murmur, to endure the piteous plight to which they were reduced. Praise of God, instead of complaint of the treatment meted out to them by the Shah, fell unceasingly from their lips--praise with which they sought to beguile the hardships of a cruel captivity.

"Every day Our gaolers, entering Our cell, would call the name of one of Our companions, bidding him arise and follow <p633> them to the foot of the gallows. With what eagerness would the owner of that name respond to that solemn call! Relieved of his chains, he would spring to his feet and, in a state of uncontrollable delight, would approach and embrace Us. We would seek to comfort him with the assurance of an everlasting life in the world beyond, and, filling his heart with hope and joy, would send him forth to win the crown of glory. He would embrace, in turn, the rest of his fellow-prisoners and then proceed to die as dauntlessly as he had lived. Soon after the martyrdom of each of these companions, We would be informed by the executioner, who had grown to be friendly to Us, of the circumstances of the death of his victim, and of the joy with which he had endured his sufferings to the very end.

"We were awakened one night, ere break of day, by Mirza Abdu'l-Vahhab-i-Shirazi, who was bound with Us to the same chains. He had left Kazimayn and followed Us to Tihran, where he was arrested and thrown into prison. He asked Us whether We were awake, and proceeded to relate to Us his dream. 'I have this night,' he said, 'been soaring into a space of infinite vastness and beauty. I seemed to be uplifted on wings that carried me wherever I desired to go. A feeling of rapturous delight filled my soul. I flew in the midst of that immensity with a swiftness and ease that I cannot describe.' 'To-day,' We replied, 'it will be your turn to sacrifice yourself for this Cause. May you remain firm and steadfast to the end. You will then find yourself soaring in that same limitless space of which you dreamed, traversing with the same ease and swiftness the realm of immortal sovereignty, and gazing with that same rapture upon the Infinite Horizon.'

"That morning saw the gaoler again enter Our cell and call out the name of Abdu'l-Vahhab. Throwing off his chains, he sprang to his feet, embraced each of his fellow-prisoners, and, taking Us into his arms, pressed Us lovingly to his heart. That moment We discovered that he had no shoes to wear We gave him Our own, and, speaking a last word of encouragement and cheer, sent him forth to the scene of his martyrdom. Later on, his executioner came to Us, praising in glowing language the spirit which that youth had shown. <p634> How thankful We were to God for this testimony which the executioner himself had given!"

All this suffering and the cruel revenge the authorities had taken on those who had attempted the life of their sovereign failed to appease the anger of the Shah's mother. Day and night she persisted in her vindictive clamour, demanding the execution of Baha'u'llah, whom she still regarded as the real author of the crime. "Deliver him to the executioner!" she insistently cried to the authorities. "What greater humiliation than this, that I, who am the mother of the Shah, should be powerless to inflict upon that criminal the punishment so dastardly an act deserves!" Her cry for vengeance, which an impotent rage served to intensify, was doomed to remain unanswered. Despite her machinations, Baha'u'llah was saved from the fate she had so importunately striven to precipitate. The Prisoner was eventually released from His confinement, and was able to unfold and establish, beyond the confines of the kingdom of her son, a sovereignty the possibility of which she could never even have dreamed of. The blood shed in the course of that fateful year in Tihran by that heroic band with whom Baha'u'llah had been imprisoned, was the ransom paid for His deliverance from the hand of a foe that sought to prevent Him from achieving the purpose for which God had destined Him. Ever since the time He espoused the Cause of the Bab, He had never neglected one single occasion to champion the Faith He had embraced. He had exposed Himself to the perils which the followers of the Faith had to face in its early days. He was the first of the Bab's disciples to set the example of renunciation and service to the Cause. Yet His life, beset as it was by the risks and dangers that a career such as His was sure to encounter, was spared by that same Providence who had chosen Him for a task which He, in His wisdom, deemed it as yet too soon to proclaim publicly.

The terror that convulsed Tihran was but one of the many risks and dangers to which Baha'u'llah's life was exposed. Men, women, and children in the capital trembled at the ruthlessness with which the enemy pursued their victims. A youth named Abbas, a former servant of Haji Sulayman Khan, and fully informed, owing to the wide <p635> circle of friends whom his master cultivated, of the names the number, and the dwelling places of the Bab's disciples, was employed by the enemy as an instrument ready to hand for the prosecution of its designs. He had identified himself with the Faith of his master, and regarded himself as one of its zealous supporters. At the outset of the turmoil, he was arrested and compelled to betray all those whom he knew to be associated with the Faith. They sought by every manner of reward to induce him to reveal those who were his master's fellow-disciples, and warned him that, should he refuse to disclose their names, he would be subjected to inhuman tortures. He pledged his word that he would act according to their wishes and would inform the assistants of Haji Ali Khan, the Hajibu'd-Dawlih, the Farrash-Bashi, of their names and abodes. He was taken through the streets of Tihran and directed to point out everyone he recognized as being a follower of the Bab. A number of people whom he had never met and known were in this manner delivered into the hands of Haji Ali Khan's assistants--people who had never had any connection with the Bab and His Cause. These were able to recover their freedom only after having paid a heavy bribe to those who had captured them. Such was the greed of the Hajibu'd-Dawlih's attendants that they specially requested Abbas to salute as a sign of betrayal every person who he thought would be willing and able to pay large sums for his deliverance. They would even force him to betray such persons, threatening that his refusal would be fraught with grave danger to his own life. They would frequently promise to give him a share of the money they determined to extort from their victims.

This Abbas was taken to the Siyah-Chal and introduced to Baha'u'llah, whom he had met previously on several occasions in the company of his master, in the hope that he would betray Him. They promised that the mother of the Shah would amply reward him for such a betrayal. Every time he was taken into Baha'u'llah's presence, Abbas, after standing a few moments before Him and gazing upon His face, would leave the place, emphatically denying ever having seen Him. Having failed in their efforts, they resorted to poison, in the hope of obtaining the favour of the mother of <p636> their sovereign. They were able to intercept the food that their Prisoner was permitted to receive from His home, and mixed with it the poison they hoped would be fatal to Him. This measure, though impairing the health of Baha'u'llah for years, failed to achieve its purpose.

The enemy was finally induced to cease regarding Him as the prime mover of that attempt, and decided to transfer the responsibility for this act to Azim, whom they now accused of being the real author of the crime. By this means they endeavoured to obtain the favour of the mother of the Shah, a favour they greatly coveted. Haji Ali Khan was only too happy to second their efforts. As he himself had taken no share in imprisoning Baha'u'llah, he seized upon the occasion which offered itself to denounce Azim, whom he had already succeeded in arresting, as the chief and responsible instigator.

The Russian minister, who, through one of his agents, was watching the developments of the situation and keeping in close touch with the condition of Baha'u'llah, addressed, through his interpreter, a strongly worded message to the Grand Vazir, in which he protested against his action, suggesting that a messenger should proceed, in the company of one of the government's trusted representatives and of Hajibu'd-Dawlih, to the Siyah-Chal and there ask the newly recognized leader to declare publicly his opinion regarding Baha'u'llah's position. "Whatever that leader may declare," he wrote, "whether in praise or denunciation, I think ought to be immediately recorded and should serve as a basis for the final judgment which should be pronounced in this affair."

The Grand Vazir promised the interpreter that he would follow the minister's advice, and even appointed a time for the messenger to join the government representative and Hajibu'd-Dawlih and proceed with them to the Siyah-Chal.

When Azim was questioned as to whether he regarded Baha'u'llah as the responsible leader of the group that had made the attempt on the Shah's life, he answered: "The Leader of this community was none other than the Siyyid-i-Bab, who was slain in Tabriz, and whose martyrdom induced me to arise and avenge His death. I alone conceived this plan <p637> and endeavoured to execute it. The youth who threw the Shah from his horse was none other than Sadiq-i-Tabrizi, a servitor in a confectioner's shop in Tihran who had been for two years in my service. He was fired with a desire even more burning than my own to avenge the martyrdom of his Leader. He acted too hastily, however, and failed to make certain the success of his attempt."

The words of his declaration were taken down by both the minister's interpreter and the Grand Vazir's representative, who submitted their records to Mirza Aqa Khan. The documents which were placed in his hands were chiefly responsible for Baha'u'llah's release from His imprisonment.

Azim was accordingly delivered into the hands of the ulamas, who, though themselves anxious to hasten his death, were prevented by the hesitancy of Mirza Abu'l Qasim, the Imam-Jum'ih of Tihran. Hajibu'd-Dawlih, because of the near approach of the month of Muharram, induced the ulamas to assemble on the upper floor of the barracks, where he succeeded in obtaining the presence of the Imam-Jum'ih, who still persisted in his refusal to consent to the death of Azim. He directed that the accused be brought to that place and there await the judgment that was to be pronounced against him. He was roughly conducted through the streets, overwhelmed with ridicule, and reviled by the populace. Through a subtle device which the enemy had contrived, they succeeded in obtaining a verdict for death. A siyyid armed with a club rushed at him and smashed his head. His example was followed by the people, who, with sticks, stones, and daggers, fell upon him and mutilated his body. Haji Mirza Jani also was among those who suffered martyrdom in the course of the agitation that followed the attempt on the life of the Shah. Owing to the disinclination of the Grand Vazir to harm him, he was secretly put to death.

The conflagration kindled in the capital spread to the adjoining provinces, bringing in its wake devastation and misery to countless innocent people among the subjects of the Shah. It ravaged Mazindaran, the home of Baha'u'llah, and was the signal for acts of violence which were directed mainly against all His possessions in that province. Two of the Bab's devoted disciples, Muhammad-Taqi Khan and <p638> Abdu'l-Vahhab, both residents of Nur, suffered martyrdom as the result of that turmoil.

The enemies of the Faith, finding to their disappointment that Baha'u'llah's deliverance from prison was almost assured, sought by intimidating their sovereign to involve Him ill fresh complications and thus encompass His death. The folly of Mirza Yahya, who, driven by his idle hopes, had sought to secure for himself and the band of his foolish supporters a supremacy which hitherto he had in vain laboured to obtain, served as a further pretext for the enemy to urge the Shah to take drastic measures for the destruction of whatever influence his Prisoner still retained in Mazindaran.

The alarming reports received by the Shah, who had scarcely recovered from his wounds, stirred in him a terrible thirst for revenge. He summoned the Grand Vazir and reprimanded him for having failed to maintain order and discipline among the people of his own province, who were bound to him by ties of kinship. Disconcerted by the rebuke of his sovereign, he expressed his readiness to fulfil whatever he would direct him to do. He was bidden despatch immediately to that province several regiments, with strict orders to repress with a ruthless hand the disturbers of the public peace. <p639>

The Grand Vazir, though fully aware of the exaggerated character of the reports that had been submitted to him, found himself compelled, owing to the Shah's insistence, to order the despatch of the Shah-Sun regiment, headed by Husayn-'Ali Khan-i-Shah-Sun, to the village of Takur, in the district of Nur, where the home of Baha'u'llah was situated. He gave the supreme command into the hands of his nephew, Mirza Abu-Talib Khan, brother-in-law of Mirza Hasan, who was Baha'u'llah's half-brother. Mirza Aqa Khan urged him to exercise the utmost caution and restraint while encamping in that village. "Whatever excesses," he urged him, "are committed by your men will react unfavourably on the prestige of Mirza Hasan and be the cause of affliction to your own sister." He bade him investigate the nature of these reports and not to encamp more than three days in the vicinity of that village.

The Grand Vazir afterwards summoned Husayn-'Ali Khan and exhorted him to conduct himself with the utmost circumspection and wisdom. "Mirza Abu-Talib," he said, is still young and inexperienced. I have specially chosen him owing to his kinship to Mirza Hasan. I trust that he will, for the sake of his sister, refrain from causing unnecessary injury to the inhabitants of Takur. Being superior to him in age and experience, you must set him a noble example and impress on him the necessity of serving the interests of both government and people. You must never allow him to undertake any operations without having previously consulted with you." He assured Husayn-'Ali Khan that he had issued written instructions to the chieftains of that district, calling upon them to come to his assistance whenever required.

Mirza Abu-Talib Khan, flushed with pride and enthusiasm, forgot the counsels of moderation the Grand Vazir had given him. He refused to be influenced by the pressing appeals of Husayn-'Ali Khan, who entreated him not to provoke an unnecessary conflict with the people. No sooner had he reached the pass which divided the district of Nur from the adjoining province, which was not far distant from Takur, than he ordered his men to prepare for an attack upon the people of that village. Husayn-'Ali Khan ran to him in despair and begged him to refrain from such an act. "It is <p640> for me," Mirza Abu-Talib haughtily retorted, "who am your superior, to decide what measures should be taken and in what manner I should serve my sovereign."

A sudden attack was launched upon the defenceless people of Takur. Surprised by so unexpected and fierce an onslaught, they appealed to Mirza Hasan, who asked to be introduced into the presence of Mirza Abu-Talib but was refused admittance. "Tell him," was the commander's message, that <p641> I am charged by my sovereign to order a wholesale massacre of the people of this village, to capture its women and confiscate their property. For your sake, however, I am willing to spare such women as take refuge in your house."

Mirza Hasan, indignant at this refusal, severely censured him and, denouncing the action of the Shah, returned to his home. The men of that village had meanwhile left their dwellings and sought refuge in the neighbouring mountains. Their women, abandoned to their fate, betook themselves to the home of Mirza Hasan, whom they implored to protect them from the enemy.

The first act of Mirza Abu-Talib Khan was directed against the house Baha'u'llah had inherited from the Vazir, His father, and of which He was the sole possessor. That house had been royally furnished and was decorated with vessels of inestimable value. He ordered his men to break open all its treasuries and to take away their contents. Such things as he was unable to carry away, he ordered to be destroyed. Some were shattered, others were burned. Even the rooms, which were more stately than those of the palaces of Tihran, were disfigured beyond repair; the beams were burned down and the decorations utterly ruined.

He next turned to the houses of the people, which he levelled with the ground, appropriating to himself and his men whatever valuables they contained. The entire village, despoiled and deserted by its men inhabitants, was delivered to the flames. Not able to find any able-bodied men, he ordered that a search be conducted in the neighbouring mountains. Any who were found were to be either shot or captured. All they could lay their hands upon were a few aged men and shepherds who had been unable to proceed further afield in their flight from the enemy. They discovered two men lying in the distance on the slopes of a mountain beside a running brook. Their weapons gleaming under the rays of the sun had betrayed them. Finding them asleep, they shot them both from across the brook which intervened between the assailants and their victims. They recognized them as Abdu'l-Vahhab and Muhammad-Taqi Khan. The former was shot dead, while the latter was severely wounded. They were carried into the presence of Mirza Abu-Talib, <p642> who did his best to preserve the life of the victim whom he wished, owing to his far-famed courage, to take with him to Tihran as a trophy of his victory. His efforts failed, however, for Muhammad-Taqi Khan, two days after, died from his wounds. The few men they had been able to capture were led in chains to Tihran and thrown into the same underground dungeon where Baha'u'llah had been confined. Among them was Mulla Ali-Baba, who, together with a number of his fellow-prisoners, perished in that dungeon as a result of the hardships he had endured.

The year after, this same Mirza Abu-Talib was stricken with plague and taken in a state of wretched misery to Shimiran. Shunned by even his nearest kindred, he lay on his sick-bed until this same Mirza Hasan, whom he had so haughtily insulted, offered to tend his sores and bear him company in his days of humiliation and loneliness. He was on the brink of death when the Grand Vazir visited him and found none at his bedside but the one whom he had so rudely treated. That very day that wretched tyrant expired, bitterly disappointed at the failure of all the hopes he had fondly cherished.

The commotion that had seized Tihran, the effects of which had been severely felt in Nur and the surrounding district, spread as far as Yazd and Nayriz, where a considerable number of the Bab's disciples were seized and inhumanly martyred. The whole of Persia seemed, indeed, to have felt the shock of that great convulsion. Its tide swept as far as the remotest hamlets of the distant provinces, and brought in its wake untold sufferings to the remnants of a persecuted community. Governors, no less than their subordinates, inflamed with greed and revenge, seized the occasion to enrich themselves and obtain the favour of their sovereign. Without mercy, moderation, or shame, they employed any means, however base and lawless, to extort from the innocent the benefits they themselves coveted. Forsaking every principle of justice and decency, they arrested, imprisoned, and tortured whomsoever they suspected of being a Babi, and would hasten to inform Nasiri'd-Din Shah in Tihran of the victories achieved over a detested opponent.

In Nayriz the full effects of that turmoil revealed themselves <p643> in the treatment accorded by its rulers and people to the followers of the Bab. About two months after the attempt on the life of the Shah, a young man named Mirza Ali, whose exceptional courage had earned for him the surname of Aliy-i-Sardar, distinguished himself by the extreme solicitude he extended to the survivors of the struggle which ended with the death of Vahid and his supporters. He was often seen in the darkness of the night to emerge from his shelter, carrying whatever aid was in his power to the widows and orphans who had suffered from the consequences of that tragedy. To those in need he distributed food and garments with noble generosity, tended their injuries, and comforted them in their sorrow. The sight of the continuous sufferings of these innocent ones stirred the fierce indignation of some of Mirza Ali's companions, who undertook to wreak their vengeance upon Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan, who was still dwelling in Nayriz and whom they regarded as the author of their misfortunes. Believing that he had still in his heart a desire to subject them to even further afflictions, they determined to take his life. They surprised him in the public bath, where they succeeded in accomplishing their purpose. This led to an upheaval that recalled in its concluding stages the horror of the butcheries of Zanjan.

Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan's widow pressed Mirza Na'im, who held the reins of authority in his grasp and was then residing in Shiraz, to avenge the blood of her husband, promising that she would in return bestow all her jewels upon him and would transfer to his name whatever he might desire of her possessions. Through treachery, the authorities succeeded in capturing a considerable number of the Bab's followers, many of whom were savagely beaten. All were thrown into prison, pending the receipt of instructions from Tihran. The Grand Vazir submitted the list of names he had received, together with the report that accompanied it, to the Shah, who expressed his extreme satisfaction at the success that had attended the efforts of his representative in Shiraz, and whom he amply rewarded for his signal service. He asked that all those who were captured be brought to the capital.

I shall not attempt to record the various circumstances that led to the carnage which marked the termination of <p644> that episode. I would refer my reader to the graphic and detailed account which Mirza Shafi'-i-Nayrizi has written in a separate booklet, in which he refers with accuracy and force to every detail of that moving event. Suffice it to say that no less than one hundred and eighty of the Bab's valiant disciples suffered martyrdom. A like number were wounded and, though incapacitated by their injuries, were ordered to leave for Tihran. Only twenty-eight persons among them survived the hardships of the journey to the capital. Of these twenty-eight, fifteen were taken to the gallows on the very day of their arrival. The rest were thrown into prison and made to suffer for two years the most horrible atrocities. Though eventually released, many of them perished on their way to their homes, exhausted by the trials of a long and cruel captivity.

A large number of their fellow-disciples were slain in Shiraz by order of Tahmasb-Mirza. The heads of two hundred of these victims were placed on bayonets and carried triumphantly by their oppressors to Abadih, a village in Fars. They were intending to take them to Tihran, when a royal messenger commanded them to abandon their project, whereupon they decided to bury the heads in that village.

As to the women, who were six hundred in number, half of them were released in Nayriz, while the rest were carried, <p645> each two being forced to ride together on an unsaddled horse, to Shiraz, where, after being submitted to severe tortures, they were abandoned to their fate. Many perished on their way to that city; many yielded up their lives to the afflictions they were made to endure ere they recovered their freedom. My pen shrinks in horror in attempting to describe what befell those valiant men and women who were made to suffer so severely for their Faith. The wanton barbarity that characterised the treatment meted out to them reached the lowest depths of infamy in the concluding stages of that lamentable episode. What I have attempted to recount of the horrors of the siege of Zanjan, of the indignities heaped upon Hujjat and his supporters, pales before the glaring ferocity of the atrocities perpetrated a few years later in Nayriz and Shiraz. A pen abler than mine to describe in all their tragic details these unspeakable savageries will, I trust, be found to place on record a tale which, however grim its features, must ever remain as one of the noblest evidences of the faith which the Cause of the Bab was able to inspire in His followers.[1]

[1 "Strange as it may seem, they respected the women whom they gathered and led to Mount Biyaban. There were, among them, two old men too feeble to fight, Mulla Muhammad-Musa, a fuller, and Mashhadi Baqir, a dyer. These were murdered. Mashhadi Baqir was killed by Ali Big, captain of the Nayrizi soldiers, who severed the head from the body of his victim and gave it to a child; then, covering the head of the niece of his victim with a black veil, he led her to Mirza Na'im, who was then on Mount Biyaban seated upon a stone in a garden. When Ali Big approached him, he threw the head of Baqir at him and shoved the little girl abruptly forward. She fell on her face, as he cried out, 'We have done as you wished, the Babis are no more!' "Akhund Mulla Abdu'l-Husayn ordered that the mouth of Mirza Na'im be stuffed with dirt, then a ghulam shot him in the head but the wound was not fatal. "Approximately six hundred and three women were arrested and taken to the mill called 'Takht' which is near Nayriz. One author tells the following anecdote: 'I was very young then and I was following my mother who had another son younger than I. A man, called Asadu'llah, was carrying my brother on his shoulders. The child wore a hat decorated with a few ornaments. A rider saw the hat and snatched it with such brutality that he took hold at the same time of the hair of the baby. The child was thrown about ten feet away and my poor mother found him unconscious.' "I shall not expatiate upon the horrors which followed this victory. It is enough to know that Mirza Na'im rode on, preceded and followed by men carrying the heads of the martyrs on pikes. The prisoners were prodded along with whip and sword. The women were jostled into ditches full of water. The night was spent at the caravansary in Shiraz. In the morning, the women were taken out, all entirely naked; they were kicked, stoned, whipped and spat upon. When their tormentors grew tired, they were confined for twenty days, during which time they were constantly insulted and outraged. Eighty Babis bound together in tens, were entrusted to one hundred soldiers, with Shiraz as their destination. Siyyid Mir Muhammad Abd died from exposure to cold at Khanih-gird, others expired a little further on. The guards, from time to time, would cut off the head of one of them. At last they entered Shiraz, through the gate of Sa'di. They paraded the prisoners through the streets, then they cast them into prison. The women were taken out of the school building after twenty days and separated into two groups. One group was set free, the others were sent to Shiraz with other prisoners who had lately been arrested. "On reaching Shiraz, the caravan was again divided into two groups; the women were sent to the caravansary Shah Mir Ali-Hamzih and the men to prison with the other Babis. The next day was a feast day. The governor, surrounded by all the prominent citizens of Shiraz, ordered the prisoners to be brought before him. A Nayrizi called Jalal, whom Na'im had nicknamed 'Bulbul,' revealed the names of his fellow-citizens. The first one to appear was Mulla Abdu'l-Husayn, who was commanded to curse the Bab. He refused and his head rolled on the ground. Haji son of Asghar, Ali Garm-Siri, Husayn son of Hadi Khayri, Sadiq son of Salih, and Muhammad-ibn-i-Muhsin all were executed. The women were set free and the men who survived were taken back to prison. The Shah having demanded that the prisoners be sent away, seventy-three were sent to Tihran. Twenty-two died during the journey, among whom were Mulla Abdu'l-Husayn who died at Saydan, Ali son of Karbila'i Zaman at Abadih; Akbar son of Karbila'i Muhammad at Qinarih; Hasan son of Abdu'l-Vahhab, Mulla Ali-Akbar, at Isfahan. Karbila'i Baqir son of Muhammad-Zamam, Hasan and his brother Dhu'l-Faqar, Karbila'i Naqi and Ali his son, Vali Khan, Mulla Karim, Akbar Ra'is, Ghulam-'Ali son of Pir Muhammad, Naqi and Muhammad-'Ali, sons of Muhammad, expired likewise during the course of the journey. "The others reached Tihran and, on the very day of their arrival, fifteen of them were put to death, among them Aqa Siyyid Ali who had been abandoned as dead, Karbila'i Rajab the barber, Sayfu'd-Din, Sulayman son of K. Salman, Ja'far, Murad Khayri, Husayn son of K. Baqir, Mirza Abu'l-Hasan son of Mirza Taqi, Mulla Muhammad-'Ali son of Aqa Mihdi. Twenty-three died in prison, thirteen were freed after three years, the only one who remained in Tihran, to die there a little later, was Karbila'i Zaynu'l-'Abidin." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 421-424.) "Their persecutors, having captured and killed the men, seized and slew forty women and children in the following manner: They placed them in the midst of a cave, heaped up in the cave a vast quantity of firewood, poured naphtha over the faggots strewn around, set fire to it. One of those who took part in this deed related as follows: 'After two or three days I ascended that mountain and removed the door from the cave. I saw that the fire had sunk down into the ashes; but all those women with their children were seated, each in some corner, clasping their little ones to their bosoms, and sitting round in a circle, just as they were when we left them. Some as though in despair or in mourning, had suffered their heads to sink down on their knees in grief, and all retained the postures they had assumed. I was filled with amazement, thinking that the fire had not burned them. Full of apprehension and awe, I entered. Then I saw that all were burned and charred to a cinder, yet had they never made a movement which would cause the crumbling away of the bodies. As soon as I touched them with my hand, however, they crumbled away to ashes. And all of us, when we had seen this, repented what we had done. But of what avail was this?'" (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 128-31.) "The author of the "Tarikh-i-Jadid," in concluding this narrative, takes occasion to point out how literally was fulfilled in these events the prophecy contained in the tradition referring to the signs which shall mark the appearance of the Imam Mihdi: 'In Him (shall be) the perfection of Moses, the preciousness of Jesus, and the patience of Job; His saints shall be abased in His time, and their heads shall be exchanged as presents, even as the heads of the Turk and the Daylamite are exchanged as presents; they shall be slain and burned, and shall be afraid, fearful, and dismayed; the earth shall be dyed with their blood, and lamentation and wailing shall prevail amongst their women; these are my saints indeed.' [This tradition, called Hadith-i-Jabir, is also quoted from the "Kafi," one of the principal compilations of shi'ite traditions, in the "Iqan."] When I was at Yazd in the early summer of 1888, I became acquainted with a Babi holding a position of some importance under government, two of whose ancestors had taken a prominent part in the suppression of the Nayriz insurrection. Of what he told me concerning this the following is a summary taken from my diary for May 18th, 1888: 'My maternal grandfather Mihr-'Ali Khan Shuja'u'l-Mulk and my great-uncle Mirza Na'im both took an active part in the Nayriz war--but on the wrong side. When orders came to Shiraz to quell the insurrection, my grandfather was instructed to take command of the expedition sent for that purpose. He did not like the task committed to him and communicated his reluctance to two of the ulamas, who, however, reassured him, declaring that the war on which he was about to engage was a holy enterprise sanctioned by Religion, and that he would receive reward therefor in Paradise. So he went, and what happened happened. After they had killed 750 men, they took the women and children, stripped them almost naked, mounted them on donkeys, mules, and camels, and led them through rows of heads hewn from the lifeless bodies of their fathers, brothers, sons, and husbands towards Shiraz. On their arrival there, they were placed in a ruined caravanserai just outside the Isfahan gate and opposite to an Imam-zadih, their captors taking up their quarters under some trees hard by. Here they remained a long while, subjected to many insults, and hardships, and many of them died. Now see the judgment of God on the oppressors; for of those chiefly responsible for these cruelties not one but came to a bad end and died overwhelmed with calamity. My grandfather Mihr-'Ali Khan presently fell ill and was dumb till the day of his death. Just as he was about to expire, those who stood round him saw from the movement of his lips that he was whispering something. They leant down to catch his last words and heard him murmur faintly "Babi! Babi! Babi!" three times. Then he fell back dead. My great-uncle Mirza Na'im fell into disgrace with the government and was twice fined ten thousand tumans the first time, fifteen thousand the second. But his punishment did not cease here, for he was made to suffer diverse tortures. His hands were put in the "il-chik" (the torture consists in placing pieces of wood between the victims fingers, binding them round tightly with cord. Cold water is then thrown over the cord to cause its further contraction) and his feet in the "tang-i-Qajar" (or "Qajar squeeze," an instrument of torture resembling the "boot" once used in England, for the introduction of which Persia is indebted to the dynasty which at present occupies the throne); he was made to stand bareheaded in the sun with treacle smeared over his head to attract the flies; and, after suffering these and other torments yet more painful and humiliating, he was dismissed a disgraced and ruined man.'" ("A Traveller's Narrative," Note H, pp. 191-3.)] <p646>

The confession of Azim freed Baha'u'llah from the danger to which His life had been exposed. The circumstances of the death of him who had declared himself the chief instigator of that crime served to abate the wrath with which an enraged populace clamoured for the immediate punishment of so daring an attempt. The cries of rage and vengeance, the appeals for immediate retribution, which had hitherto been focussed on Baha'u'llah were now diverted from Him. The ferocity of those claimant denunciations was, by degrees, much allayed. The conviction grew firmer in the minds of the responsible authorities in Tihran that Baha'u'llah hitherto regarded as the arch-foe of Nasiri'd-Din <p647> Shah, was by no means involved in any conspiracy against the sovereign's life. Mirza Aqa Khan was therefore encouraged to send his trusted representative, a man named Haji Ali, to the Siyah-Chal, and to present the order for His release to the Prisoner.

Upon his arrival, the sight which the emissary beheld filled him with grief and surprise. The spectacle which met his eyes was one he could scarcely believe. He wept as he saw Baha'u'llah chained to a floor that was infested with vermin, His neck weighed down by galling chains, His face laden with sorrow, ungroomed and dishevelled, breathing the pestilential atmosphere of the most terrible of dungeons. <p648> "Accursed be Mirza Aqa Khan!" he burst forth, as his eyes recognized Baha'u'llah in the gloom that surrounded Him. "God knows I had never imagined that you could have been subjected to so humiliating a captivity. I should never have thought that the Grand Vazir could have dared commit so heinous an act."

He removed the mantle from his shoulders and presented it to Baha'u'llah, entreating Him to wear it when in the presence of the minister and his counsellors. Baha'u'llah refused his request, and, wearing the dress of a prisoner, proceeded straightway to the seat of the imperial government. The first word the Grand Vazir was moved to address to his Captive was the following: "Had you chosen to take my advice, and had you dissociated yourself from the faith of the Siyyid-i-Bab, you would never have suffered the pains and indignities that have been heaped upon you." "Had you, in your turn," Baha'u'llah replied, "followed my counsels, the affairs of the government would not have reached so critical a stage."

He was immediately reminded of the conversation he had <p649> had with Him on the occasion of the Bab's martyrdom. The words, "the flame that has been kindled will blaze forth more fiercely than ever," flashed through the mind of Mirza Aqa Khan. "The warning you uttered," he remarked, "has, alas been fulfilled. What is it that you advise me now to do?" "Command the governors of the realm," was the instant reply, "to cease shedding the blood of the innocent, to cease plundering their property, to cease dishonouring their women and injuring their children. Let them cease the persecution of the Faith of the Bab; let them abandon the idle hope of wiping out its followers." <p650>

That same day orders were given, through a circular addressed to all the governors of the realm, bidding them desist from their acts of cruelty and shame. "What you have done is enough," Mirza Aqa Khan wrote them. "Cease arresting and punishing the people. Disturb no longer the peace and tranquillity of your countrymen." The Shah's government had been deliberating as to the most effective measures that should be taken to rid the country, once and for all, of the curse with which it had been afflicted. No sooner had Baha'u'llah recovered His freedom than the decision of the government was handed to Him, informing Him that within a month of the issuing of this order, He, with His family, was expected to leave Tihran for a place beyond the confines of Persia.

The Russian minister, as soon as he learned of the action which the government contemplated taking, volunteered to take Baha'u'llah under his protection, and invited Him to go to Russia. He refused the offer and chose instead to leave for Iraq. Nine months after His return from Karbila, on the first day of the month of Rabi'u'th-Thani, in the year 1269 A.H.,[1] Baha'u'llah, accompanied by the members of His family, among whom were the Most Great Branch[2] and Aqay-i-Kalim,[3] and escorted by a member of the imperial body-guard and an official representing the Russian legation, set out from Tihran on His journey to Baghdad.

[1 January 12,1853 A.D.]

[2 Abdu'l-Baha.]

[3 Mirza Musa, commonly called Aqay-i-Kalim, the ablest and most distinguished among Baha'u'llah's brothers and sisters, and His staunch and valued supporter.] <p651>



NEVER had the fortunes of the Faith proclaimed by the Bab sunk to a lower ebb than when Baha'u'llah was banished from His native land to Iraq. The Cause for which the Bab had given His life, for which Baha'u'llah had toiled and suffered, seemed to be on the very verge of extinction. Its force appeared to have been spent, its resistance irretrievably broken. Discouragements and disasters, each more devastating in its effect than the preceding one, had succeeded one another with bewildering rapidity, sapping its vitality and dimming the hope of its stoutest supporters. Indeed, to a superficial reader of the pages of Nabil's narrative, the whole story from its very beginning appears to be a mere recital of reverses and massacres, of humiliations and disappointments, each more severe than the previous one, culminating at last in the banishment of Baha'u'llah from His own country. To the sceptical reader, unwilling to recognize the celestial potency with which that Faith was endowed, the entire conception that had evolved in the mind of its Author seems to have been foredoomed to failure. The work of the Bab, so gloriously conceived, so heroically undertaken, would appear to have ended in a colossal disaster. To such a reader, the life of the ill-fated Youth of Shiraz would seem, judging from the cruel blows it sustained, to be one of the saddest and most fruitless that had ever been the lot of mortal men. That short and heroic career, which, swift as a meteor, flashed across the firmament of Persia, and seemed for a time to have brought the longed-for light of eternal salvation into the gloom that encircled the country, was plunged at last into an abyss of darkness and despair.

Every step He took, every endeavour He made, had but served to intensify the sorrows and disappointments that weighed upon His soul. The plan He had, at the very outset of His career, conceived of inaugurating His Mission with a public proclamation in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina <p652> failed to materialise as He had hoped. The Sherif of Mecca, to whom Quddus was bidden deliver His Message, accorded him a reception that betrayed by its icy indifference the contemptuous disregard in which the Cause of a Youth of Shiraz was held by the ruler of Hijaz and custodian of its Ka'bih. The project He had in mind of returning triumphantly from His pilgrimage to the cities of Karbila and Najaf, where He hoped to establish His Cause, in the very heart of that stronghold of shi'ah orthodoxy, was likewise hopelessly shattered. The programme which He had thought out, the essentials of which He had already communicated to the chosen nineteen of His disciples, remained for the most part unfulfilled. The moderation He had exhorted them to observe was forgotten in the first flush of enthusiasm that seized the early missionaries of His Faith, which behaviour was in no small measure responsible for the failure of the hopes He had so fondly cherished. The Mu'tamid, that wise and sagacious ruler, who had so ably warded off the danger with which that precious Life was threatened, and who had proved his capacity to render Him services of such distinction as few of His more modest companions could have hoped to offer, was suddenly taken from Him, leaving Him at the mercy of the perfidious Gurgin Khan, the most detestable and unscrupulous of all His enemies. The Bab's only chance of meeting Muhammad Shah--a meeting which He Himself had requested and on which He had pinned His fondest hopes --was dashed to the ground by the intervention of the cowardly and capricious Haji Mirza Aqasi, who trembled at the thought lest His contact with the sovereign, already unduly inclined to befriend that Cause, should prove fatal to his own interests. The attempts, inspired and initiated by the Bab, which two of His foremost disciples, Mulla Aliy-i-Bastami and Shaykh Sa'id-i-Hindi, had made to introduce the Faith, the one in Turkish territory and the other in India, ended in dismal failure. The first enterprise collapsed at its very outset by reason of the cruel martyrdom of its promoter, whilst the latter was productive of what might seem a negligible result, its only fruit being the conversion of a certain siyyid whose chequered career of service was brought to a sudden end in Luristan by the action of the treacherous Ildirim <p653> Mirza. The captivity to which the Bab Himself, during the greater part of the years of His ministry, was condemned; His isolation in the mountain fastnesses of Adhirbayjan from the body of His followers, who were being sorely tried by a rapacious enemy; above all, the tragedy of His own martyrdom, so intense, so terribly humiliating, would appear to have marked the lowest depths of ignominy which so noble a Cause, from the very hour of its birth, was doomed to suffer. His death, the culmination of a swift and stormy career, would seem to have set the seal of failure upon a task which, however heroic in the efforts it inspired, was impossible of achievement.

Much as He Himself had suffered, the agony He was made to endure was but a drop compared to the calamities which were to rain down upon the multitude of His avowed followers. The cup of sorrow that had touched His lips had yet to be drained to its very dregs by those who still remained after Him. The catastrophe of Shaykh Tabarsi, which robbed Him of His ablest lieutenants, Quddus and Mulla Husayn, and which engulfed no less than three hundred and thirteen of His staunch companions, came as the cruelest blow that had yet fallen upon Him, and enveloped with a shroud of darkness the closing days of His fast-ebbing life. The struggle of Nayriz, with its attendant horrors and cruelties, involving as it did the loss of Vahid, the most learned, the most influential, and the most accomplished among the followers of the Bab, was an added blow to the resources and numbers of those who continued to hold aloft the torch in their hands. The siege of Zanjan, following closely in the wake of the disaster that had befallen the Faith in Nayriz, and marked by the butcheries with which the name of that province will ever remain associated, depleted still further the ranks of the upholders of the Faith, and deprived them of the sustaining strength with which the presence of Hujjat inspired them. With him was gone the last outstanding figure among the representative leaders of the Faith who towered, by virtue of their ecclesiastical authority, their learning, their fearlessness and force of character, above the rank and file of their fellow-disciples. The flower of the <p654> Bab's followers had been mown down in a ruthless carnage, leaving behind it a vast company of enslaved women and children, who groaned beneath the yoke of an unrelenting foe. Their leaders, who, alike by their knowledge and example, had fed and sustained the flame that glowed in those valiant hearts, had also perished, their work seemingly abandoned amidst the confusion that afflicted a persecuted community.

Of all those who had shown themselves capable of carrying on the work which the Bab had handed down to His followers, Baha'u'llah alone remained.[1] All the rest had fallen by the sword of the enemy. Mirza Yahya, the nominal leader of the band that survived the Bab, had ingloriously sought refuge in the mountains of Mazindaran from the perils of the turmoil that had seized the capital. In the guise of a dervish, kashkul[2] in hand, he had deserted his companions and fled the scene of danger to the forests of Gilan. Siyyid Husayn, the Bab's amanuensis, and Mirza Ahmad, his collaborator, who were both well-versed in the teachings and implications of the newly revealed Bayan and, by virtue of their intimacy with their Master and their familiarity with the precepts of His Faith, were in a position to enlighten the understanding, and consolidate the foundations of the faith, of their companions, lay in chains in the Siyah-Chal of Tihran, cut off entirely from the body of the believers who so greatly needed their counsel, both doomed to suffer, at an early date, a cruel martyrdom. Even His own maternal uncle, who, ever since His childhood, had surrounded Him with a paternal solicitude that no father could have surpassed, who had rendered Him signal services in the early days of His sufferings in Shiraz, and who, had he been allowed to survive Him by only a few years, could have rendered <p655> inestimable services to His Cause, languished in prison, forlorn and hopeless of ever continuing the work that was so close to his heart. Tahirih, that flaming emblem of His Cause who, alike by her indomitable courage, her impetuous character, her dauntless faith, her fiery ardour and vast knowledge, seemed for a time able to win the whole womanhood of Persia to the Cause of her Beloved, fell, alas, at the very hour when victory seemed near at hand, a victim to the wrath of a calumnious enemy. The influence of her work, the course of which was so prematurely arrested, seemed to those who stood near as they lowered her into the pit that served as her grave, to have been completely extinguished. The Bab's remaining Letters of the Living either had perished by the sword or were fettered in prison, or again were leading an obscure life in some remote corner of the realm. The body of the Bab's voluminous writings suffered, for the most part, a fate no less humiliating than that which had befallen His disciples. Many of His copious works were utterly obliterated, others were torn and reduced to ashes, a few were corrupted, much was seized by the enemy, and the rest lay a mass of disorganised and undeciphered manuscripts, precariously hidden and widely scattered among the survivors of His companions.

[1 Mirza Abu'l-Fadl quotes in his "Fara'id" (pp. 50-51), the following remarkable tradition from Muhammad, which is recognized as an authentic utterance of the Prophet and to which Siyyid Abdu'l-Vahhab-i-Sha'rani refers in his work entitled "Kitabu'l-Yavaqit-iva'l-Javahir": "All of them [the companions of the Qa'im] shall be slain except One who shall reach the plain of Akka, the Banquet-Hall of God." The full text is also mentioned, according to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, by Shaykh Ibnu'l-'Arabi in his "Futuhat-i-Makkiyyih."]

[2 "'A hollow receptacle of about the size and shape of a cocoa-nut, round the orifice of which two chains are attached at four points to serve as a handle. It is used by dervishes as an alms-basket." ("A Traveller's Narrative," p. 51, note 3.)]

The Faith the Bab had proclaimed, and for which He had given His all, had indeed reached its lowest ebb. The fires kindled against it had almost consumed the fabric upon which its continued existence depended. The wings of death seemed to be hovering above it. Extermination, complete and irremediable, appeared to be threatening its very life. Amidst the shadows that were fast gathering about it, the figure of Baha'u'llah alone shone as the potential Deliverer of a Cause that was fast speeding to its end. The marks of clear vision, of courage and sagacity which He had shown on more than one occasion ever since He had risen to champion the Cause of the Bab, appeared to qualify Him, should His life and continued existence in Persia be ensured, to revive the fortunes of an expiring Faith. But this was not to be. A catastrophe, unexampled in the whole history of that Faith, precipitated a persecution fiercer than any that had <p656> hitherto taken place, and this time drew into its vortex the person of Baha'u'llah Himself. The slender hopes which the remnants of the believers still entertained were wrecked amidst the confusion that ensued. For Baha'u'llah, their only hope and the sole object of their confidence, was so struck down by the severity of that storm that no recovery could any longer be thought possible. After He had been despoiled of all His possessions in Nur and Tihran, denounced as the prime mover of a dastardly attempt upon the life of His sovereign, abandoned by His kindred and despised by His former friends and admirers, plunged into a dark and pestilential dungeon, and at last, with the members of His family, driven into hopeless exile beyond the confines of His native land, all the hopes that had centred round Him as the possible Redeemer of an afflicted Faith seemed for a moment to have completely vanished.

No wonder Nasiri'd-Din Shah, under whose eyes and by whose impulse such blows were being dealt, was already priding himself on being the wrecker of a Cause against which he had so consistently battled, and which he had at last, to outward seeming, been able to crush. No wonder he imagined, as he sat musing over the successive stages of this vast and bloody enterprise, that by the act of banishment which his hands had signed, he was sounding the death-knell of that hateful heresy which had struck such terror to the hearts of his people. To Nasiri'd-Din Shah it appeared, at that supreme moment, that the spell of that terror was broken, that the tide that had swept over his country was at last turning and bringing back to his fellow-countrymen the peace for which they cried. Now that the Bab was no more; now that the mighty pillars that sustained His Cause had been crushed into dust; now that the mass of its devotees, throughout the length and breadth of his dominion, were cowed and exhausted; now that Baha'u'llah Himself, the one remaining hope of a leaderless community, had been driven into exile and had, of His own accord, sought refuge in the neighbourhood of the stronghold of shi'ah fanaticism, the spectre that had haunted him ever since he had ascended the throne had vanished for ever. Never again, he imagined, <p657> would he hear of that detestable Movement which, if he were to believe his best counsellors, was swiftly receding into the shadows of impotence and oblivion.[1]

[1 "Excellency, After the carrying out of those energetic measures on the part of the Persian Government for the extirpation and extermination of the misguided and detestable sect of the Babis, with the details of which Your Excellency is fully acquainted [allusion is made to the great persecution of the Babis in Tihran in the summer of 1852], praise be to God, by the attention of the Imperial mind of is most potent Majesty, whose rank is as that of Jamshid, the refuge of the True Religion--may our lives be his sacrifice!--, their roots were torn up." (Extract from letter addressed by Mirza Sa'id Khan, ex-foreign minister of Persia; to the Persian ambassador in Constantinople; dated 12th of 12th Dhu'l-Hijjih, 1278 [May 10, 1862]. Facsimile and translation of the document reproduced in E. G. Browne's "Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion," p. 283.) ]

To even the followers of the Faith who were left to survive the abominations heaped upon their Cause--to even that small caravan, with perhaps a few exceptions, wending its way in the depth of winter through the snows of the mountains bordering on Iraq,[1] the Cause of the Bab, one can well imagine, might for a moment have seemed to have failed in accomplishing its purpose. The forces of darkness that had encompassed it on every side would seem to have at last triumphed over, and put out, the light which that young Prince of Glory had kindled in His land.

[1 "It was a terrible journey in rough mountain country and the travellers suffered greatly from exposure." (Dr. T. K. Cheyne's "The Reconciliation of Races and Religions," p. 121.)]

In the eyes of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, at all events, the power that had seemed for a time to have swept within its orbit the entire forces of his realm had ceased to count. Ill-starred from its very birth, it had eventually been forced to surrender to the violence of the blows which his sword had dealt. The Faith had suffered a disruption certainly well deserved. Delivered from its curse, which for many nights had robbed him of his sleep, he could now, with undivided attention, set about the task of rescuing his land from the devastating effects of that vast delusion. Henceforth his real mission, as he conceived it, was to enable both Church and State to consolidate their foundations and to reinforce their ranks against the intrusion of similar heresies, which might, in a future day, poison the life of his countrymen.

How vain were his imaginings, how vast his own delusion! The Cause he had fondly imagined to have been crushed was still living, destined to emerge from the midst of that great convulsion stronger, purer, and nobler than ever. The Cause <p658> which, to the mind of that foolish monarch, seemed to be speeding towards destruction was but passing through the fiery tests of a phase of transition that was to carry it a step further on the path of its high destiny. A new chapter in its history was being unfolded, more glorious than any that had marked its birth or its rise. The repression which that monarch had believed to have succeeded in sealing its doom was but the initial stage in an evolution destined to blossom, in the fulness of time, into a Revelation mightier than any that the Bab Himself had proclaimed. The seed His hand had sown, though subjected, for a time, to the fury of a storm of unexampled violence and though later transplanted to a foreign soil, was to continue to develop and grow, in due time, into a Tree destined to spread its shelter over all the kindreds and peoples of the earth. Though the Bab's disciples might be tortured and slain, and His companions humiliated and crushed; though His followers might dwindle in number; though the voice of the Faith itself might be silenced by the arm of violence; though despair might settle upon its fortunes; though its ablest defenders might apostatise from their faith, yet the promise embedded within the shell of His word no hand could succeed in ravishing, and no power stand in the way of its germination and growth.

Indeed, the first glimmerings of the dawning Revelation, of which the Bab had declared Himself to be the Herald, and to the approach and certainty of which He had so repeatedly alluded,[1] could already be discerned amidst the gloom that encircled Baha'u'llah in the Siyah-Chal of Tihran.[2] The <p659> force that, growing out of the momentous Revelation released by the Bab, was at a later time to unfold itself in all its glory and encompass the globe, was already pulsating in the veins of Baha'u'llah as He lay exposed in His cell to the sword of His executioner. The still voice which, in the hour of bitter agony, announced to the Prisoner the Revelation of which He was chosen to be the Mouthpiece, could not, of a certainty, have reached the ears of the monarch who was already preparing the celebration of the extinction of the Faith his Captive had championed. That imprisonment which he who had caused it, believed to have branded with infamy the fair name of Baha'u'llah, and which he regarded as a prelude to a still more humiliating banishment to Iraq, was, indeed, the very scene that witnessed the first stirrings of that Movement of which Baha'u'llah was to be the Author, a Movement which was first to be made known in the city of Baghdad and at a later time to be proclaimed from the prison-city of Akka to the Shah, no less than to the other rulers and crowned heads of the world.

[1 "But just as remarkable as his boldness in claiming Divine authority is his restraint in insisting that his authority was not final. He felt competent and commissioned to reveal much, but he felt with equal certainty that there was infinitely more yet to be revealed. Herein was his greatness. And herein was his greatest sacrifice. He thereby risked the diminution of his personal fame. But he insured the continuance of his mission.... He insured that the movement he had started would grow and expand. He himself was but 'a letter out of that most mighty book, a dewdrop from that limitless ocean.'... This was the humility of true insight. And it had its effect. His movement has grown and expanded, and it has yet a great future before it." (Sir Francis Younghusband's "The Gleam," pp. 210-11.)]

[2 "During the days when I was imprisoned in the Land of Ta [Tihran], although the galling weight of chains and the loathsome atmosphere of the prison allowed me little sleep, yet occasionally, in my moments of slumber, I felt as if something were pouring forth over breast, even as a mighty torrent, which, descending from the Summit of a lofty mountain precipitates itself over the earth. All my limbs seemed to have been set aflame. At such moments my tongue recited what mortal ears could not hear." ("The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," p. 17.)]

Little did Nasiri'd-Din Shah imagine that by the very act of pronouncing the sentence of banishment against Baha'u'llah he was helping in the unfolding of God's irrepressible Purpose and that he himself was but an instrument in the execution of that Design. Little did he imagine that as his reign was drawing to a close it would witness a revival of the very forces he had sought so strenuously to exterminate-- a revival that would manifest a vitality such as he, in the hour of darkest despair, had never believed that Faith to possess. Not only within the confines of his own realm,[1]<p660> not only throughout the adjacent territories of Iraq and Russia, but as far as India in the East,[2] as far as Egypt and European Turkey in the West, a recrudescence of the Faith such as he had never expected, awakened him from the dreams in which he had so fondly indulged. The Cause of the Bab seemed as if risen from the dead. It appeared under a form infinitely more formidable than any under which it had appeared in the past. The fresh impetus which, despite his calculations, the personality of Baha'u'llah, and, above all, the inherent strength of the Revelation which He personified, had lent to the Cause of the Bab, was one Nasiri'd Din Shah had never imagined. The rapidity with which a <p661> slumbering Faith had been revived and consolidated within his own territory; its spreading out to States beyond its confines; the stupendous claims advanced by Baha'u'llah almost in the midst of the stronghold where He had chosen to dwell; the public declaration of that claim in European Turkey, and its proclamation in challenging Epistles to the crowned heads of the earth, one of which the Shah himself was destined to receive; the enthusiasm that announcement evoked in the <p662> hearts of countless followers; the transference to the Holy Land of the centre of His Cause; the gradual relaxation of the severity of His confinement which marked the closing days of His life; the lifting of the ban that had been imposed by the Sultan of Turkey on His intercourse with visitors and pilgrims who flocked from various parts of the East to His prison; the awakening of the spirit of enquiry among the thinkers of the West; the utter disruption of the forces that had attempted to effect a schism in the ranks of His followers, and the fate that had befallen its chief instigator; above all, <p663> the sublimity of those teachings with which His published works abounded and which were being read, disseminated, and taught by an ever-increasing number of adherents in Russian Turkistan, in Iraq, in India, in Syria, and as far off as European Turkey--these were among the chief factors that convincingly revealed to the eyes of the Shah the invincible character of a Faith he believed himself to have bridled and destroyed. The futility of his efforts, however much he might attempt to conceal his feelings, was only too apparent. The Cause of the Bab, the birth and tribulations of which he had himself witnessed, and the triumphant progress of which he was now beholding, had risen phoenix-like from its ashes and was pressing forward along the road leading to undreamt-of achievements.+F1

[1 Gobineau, writing in about the year 1865, testifies as follows: "Public opinion holds that the Babis are to be found in every social class and among the members of every religion, with the exception of the Nusayris and the Christians, but it is especially the educated classes, the men of learning who are suspected of sympathy with Babism. It is believed, and with good reason, that many mullas and, among them, outstanding mujtahids, magistrates of high rank, and high court officials very close to the king, are Babis. According to a recent estimate, there would be in Tihran, a city of about eighty thousand souls, five thousand Babis. But this estimate is not very reliable and I am inclined to think that, if the Babis were to triumph in Persia, their number in the capital would be much larger, for, at that moment, one would have to add to the number of the zealous ones, whatever that number may now be, a large proportion of those who are recently in favor of the officially condemned doctrine and to whom victory would impart the courage to declare their faith openly." (Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 251.) "Half a century has not yet elapsed since Mirza Ali-Muhammad, the young Seer of Shiraz, first began to preach the religion which now counts its martyrs by hundreds and its adherents by hundreds of thousands; which seemed at one time to menace the supremacy alike of the Qajar dynasty and of the Muhammadan faith in Persia, and may still not improbably prove an important factor in the history of Western Asia." (E. G. Browne's introduction to the "Tarikh-i-Jadid," p. 7.) "Babism," writes Professor James Darmesteter, "which diffused itself in less than five years from one end of Persia to another, which was bathed in 1852 in the blood of its martyrs, has been silently progressing and propagating itself. If Persia is to be at all regenerate it will be through this new faith." (Extract from "Persia: A Historical and Literary Sketch," translated by G. K. Nariman.) "If Babism continues to grow at its present rate of progression, a time may conceivably come when it will oust Muhammadanism from the field in Persia. This, I think, it would be unlikely to do, did it appear upon the ground under the flag of a hostile faith. But since its recruits are won from the best soldiers of the garrison whom it is attacking, there is greater reason to believe that it may ultimately prevail. To those who know anything of the Persian character, so extraordinarily susceptible of religious influences as it is, it will be obvious to how many classes in that country the new creed makes successful appeal. The Sufis, or mystics, have long held that there must always be a Pir, or Prophet, visible in the flesh, and are very easily absorbed into the Babi fold. Even the orthodox Musulman, whose mind's eye has ever been turned in eager anticipation upon the vanished Imam, is amenable to the cogent reasoning, by which it is sought to prove that either the Bab, or Baha, is the Mihdi, according to all the predictions of the Qur'an and the traditions. The pure and suffering life of the Bab, his ignominious death, the heroism and martyrdom of his followers, will appeal to many others who can find no similar phenomena in the contemporaneous records of Islam." (Lord Curzon's "Persia and the Persian Question," vol. 1, p. 503.) The author, in the same chapter, commenting on the prospects of Christian missionary enterprise in Persia, writes as follows: "Persia has even been described as the most hopeful among the fields of missionary labour in the East. While conscious of the valuable work that has been and is being done by the representatives of English, French, and American Mission societies in that country, by the spread of education, by the display of charity, by the free gift of medical assistance, by the force of example, and while in no way suggesting that these pious labours should be slackened, I am unable, from such knowledge as I possess, to participate in so sanguine a forecast of the future." (p. 504.) "...In Persia, however, not the least of the obstacles with which Christian communities are confronted arise from their own sectarian differences, and the Musulmans are perfectly entitled to scoff at those who invite them to enter a flock the different members of which love each other so bitterly. Protestants squabble with Roman Catholics, Presbyterians with Episcopalians, the Protestant Nestorians look with no very friendly eye upon the Nestorians proper, and these, again, are not on the most harmonious terms with the Chaldaeans, or Catholic Nestorians. The Armenians gaze askance upon the United (or Catholic) Armenians, and both unite in retarding the work of the Protestant missions. Finally, the hostility of the Jews may, as a rule, be reckoned upon. In the various countries of the East in which I have traveled, from Syria to Japan, I have been struck by the strange and, to my mind, sorrowful phenomenon, of missionary bands waging the noblest of warfares under the banner of the King of Peace with fratricidal weapons in their hands." (Pp. 507-8.) "...If, then, the criterion of missionary enterprise in Persia be the number of converts it has made from Islam, I do not hesitate to say that the prodigious expenditure of money of honest effort, and of sacrificing toil that has been showered upon that country has met with a wholly inadequate return. Young Muhammadans have sometimes been baptised by Christian missionaries. But this must not too readily be confounded with conversion, since the bulk of the newcomers relapse into the faith of their fathers and I question if, since the day when Henry Martyn set foot in Shiraz up till the present moment, half a dozen Persian Muhammadans have genuinely embraced the Christian creed. I have myself often enquired for, but have never seen, a converted Musulman (I exclude, of course, those derelicts or orphans of Musulman parents who are brought up from childhood in Christian schools). Nor am I surprised at even the most complete demonstration of failure. Putting aside the dogmatic assumptions of Christianity (e.g. the doctrine of the Trinity and the Divinity of Christ), which are so repugnant to the Muhammadan conception of the unity of God, we cannot regard the reluctance of a Musulman to desert his faith with much astonishment when we remember that the penalty for such an act is death. The chances of conversion are remote indeed so long as the body as well as the soul of the convert is thrown into the scales But personal apprehensions, though an important are not the deciding factor in the situation. It is against the impregnable rock-wall of Islam as a system embracing every sphere, and duty, and act of life, that the waves of missionary effort beat and buffet in vain. Marvellously adapted alike to the climate, character and occupations of those countries upon which it has laid its adamantine grip, Islam holds its votary in complete thrall from the cradle to the grave. To him, it is not only religion, it is government, philosophy, and science as well. The Muhammadan conception is not so much that of a state church as, if the phrase may be permitted, of a church state. The undergirders with which society itself is warped round are not of civil, but of ecclesiastical, fabrication, and, wrapped in this superb, if paralysing creed, the Musulman lives in contented surrender of all volition, deems it his highest duty to worship God and to compel, or, where impossible, to despise those who do not worship Him in the spirit, and then dies in sure and certain hope of Paradise. So long as this all-compelling, all-absorbing code of life holds an Eastern people in its embrace, determining every duty and regulating every act of existence, and finally meting out an assured salvation missionary treasure and missionary self-denial will largely be spent in vain. Indeed, an active propaganda is, in my judgment, the worst of policies that a Christian mission in a bigoted Musulman country can adopt and the very tolerance with which I have credited the Persian government is in large measure due to the prudent abstention of the Christian missionaries from avowed proselytism." (Pp. 508-9.)]

[2 Gobineau, writing about the year 1865, gives the following testimony: "Thus Babism has won a considerable influence on the mind of Persia, and spreading beyond the Persian frontier, has overflowed into the pachalick of Baghdad and penetrated into India. Among its characteristics, one of the most striking is that, even during the life of the Bab, many of the new faith, many of its most convinced and devoted followers, have never known personally their prophet and do not seem to have attached great importance to the hearing of his instructions from his own lips. Nevertheless, they rendered him, completely and without reservation, the honors and the veneration to which, in their own eyes, he was certainly entitled." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 255.)]

[3 "The Cause of the Bab is on the road to great achievements. We have now shown how there has taken place a religious movement which absorbs the deepest attention of Central Asia, that is to say, of Persia, several regions of India and a section of Asiatic Turkey; a religious movement, therefore, truly remarkable and worthy of being studied. Through it, we witness events, manifestations, catastrophes such that one could only imagine possible in remote ages when the great religions were born. I even confess that if I were to see appear in Europe a religion like unto Babism, with advantages such as Babism possesses, with complete faith, an undaunted enthusiasm, tried courage and proven devotion, winning the respect of the indifferent, frightening its adversaries and, moreover, a tireless proselytism constantly gaining adherents in every social class, --if I were to see such a phenomenon in Europe, I would not hesitate to predict that, within a given time, power and sovereignty would of necessity belong to a group so richly endowed." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 116, 293-294.) "It seems certain that from the religious standpoint and especially from the moral one, Babism marks an advance over the teachings of Islam; one may hold with M. Vambery (French Academy, March 12, 1892) that its leader has expressed doctrines worthy of the greatest thinkers.... In any case the growth of Babism is an interesting chapter in the history of modern religions and civilization. And thus, after all is said, those who praise it are perhaps right; it may be that from Babism will come the regeneration of the Persian peoples, even of the whole of Islam which is in real need of it. Unfortunately there is seldom a national regeneration without much shedding of blood." (M. J. Balteau's "Le Babisme," p. 28.) "Now it appears to me that the history of the Babi movement must be interesting in effort ways to others besides those who are directly engaged in the study of Persian. To the student of religious thought it will afford no little matter for reflection; for here he may contemplate such personalities as by lapse of time pass into heroes and demi-gods still unobscured by myth and fable he may examine by the light of concurrent and independent testimony one of those strange outbursts of enthusiasm, faith, fervent devotion, and indomitable heroism--or fanaticism, if you will-- which we are accustomed to associate with the earlier history of the human race; he may witness in a word, the birth of a faith which may not impossibly win a place amidst the great religions of the world. To the ethnologist also it may yield food for thought as to the character of a people who, stigmatised as they often have been as selfish, mercenary, avaricious, egotistical, sordid, and cowardly, are yet capable of exhibiting under the influence of a strong religious impulse a degree of devotion, disinterestedness, generosity, unselfishness, nobility, and courage which may be paralleled in history, but can scarcely be surpassed. To the politician, too, the matter is not devoid of importance; for what changes may not be effected in a country now reckoned almost as a cypher in the balance of national forces by a religion capable of evoking so mighty a spirit? Let those who know what Muhammad made the Arabs, consider well what the Bab may yet make the Persians." (E. G. Browne's introduction to "A Traveller's Narrative," pp. 8-9.) "So here at Bahji was I installed as a guest, in the very midst of all that Babism accounts most noble and most holy; and here did I spend five most memorable days, during which I enjoyed unparalleled and unhoped-for opportunities of holding intercourse with those who are the very fountain-heads of that mighty and wondrous spirit which works with invisible but ever-increasing force for the transformation and quickening of a people who slumber in a sleep like unto death. It was in truth a strange and moving experience, but one whereof I despair of conveying any save the feeblest impression. I might, indeed, strive to describe in greater detail the faces and forms which surrounded me, the conversations to which I was privileged to listen, the solemn melodious reading of the sacred books, the general sense of harmony and content which pervaded the place, and the fragrant shady gardens whither in the afternoon we sometimes repaired; but all this was as nought in comparison with the spiritual atmosphere with which I was encompassed. Persian Muslims will tell you often that the Babis bewitch or drug their guests so that these, impelled by a fascination which they cannot resist, become similarly affected with what the aforesaid Muslims regard as a strange and incomprehensible madness. Idle and absurd as this belief is, it yet rests on a basis of fact stronger than that which supports the greater part of what they allege concerning this people. The spirit which pervades the Babis is such that it can hardly fail to affect most powerfully all subjected to its influence. It may appeal or attract: it cannot be ignored or disregarded. Let those who have not seen disbelieve me if they will; but, should that spirit once reveal itself to them, they will experience an emotion which they are not likely to forget." (Ibid., pp. 38-9.) "It will thus be seen that, in its external organisation, Babism has undergone great and radical changes since it first appeared as a proselytising force half a century ago. These changes, however, have in no wise impaired, but appear, on the contrary, to have stimulated, its propaganda, which has advanced with a rapidity inexplicable to those who can only see therein a crude form of political or even of metaphysical fermentation. The lowest estimate places the present number of Babis in Persia at half a million. I am disposed to think, from conversations with persons well qualified to judge, that the total is nearer one million. They are to be found in every walk of life, from the ministers and nobles of the Court to the scavenger or the groom, not the least arena of their activity being the Musulman priesthood itself. It will have been noticed that the movement was initiated by siyyids, hajis, and mullas--i.e. persons who, either by descent, from pious inclination, or by profession, were intimately concerned with the Muhammadan creed; and it is among even the professed votaries of the faith that they continue to make their converts. Many Babis are well known to be such, but, as long as they walk circumspectly, are free from intrusion or persecution. In the poorer walks of life the fact is, as a rule, concealed for fear of giving an excuse for the superstitious rancour of superiors. Quite recently the Babis have had great success in the camp of another enemy, having secured many proselytes among the Jewish populations of the Persian towns. I hear that during the past year they are reported to have made 150 Jewish converts in Tihran, 100 in Hamadan, 50 in Kashan, and 75 per cent of the Jews at Gulpayigan." (Lord Curzon's "Persia and the Persian Question," vol. 1, pp. 499-500.) "From that subtle race," writes Dr. J. Estlin Carpenter, "issues the most remarkable movement which modern Muhammadanism has produced.... Disciples gathered round him, and the movement was not checked by his arrest, his imprisonment for nearly six years and his final execution in 1850.... It, too, claims to be a universal teaching; it has already its noble army of martyrs and its holy hooks; has Persia, in the midst of her miseries, given birth to a religion which will go round the world?" ("Comparative Religion," pp. 70, 71.) "Once again," writes Professor E. G. Browne, "in the world's history has the East vindicated her claim to teach religion to the West, and to hold in the Spiritual World that preeminence which the Western nations hold in the Material." (Introduction to M. H. Phelps' "Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi," p. 15.)] <p664>

Little did Nabil himself imagine that within two score years of the writing of his narrative the Revelation of Baha'u'llah, the flower and fruit of all the Dispensations of the past, would have been capable of advancing thus far on the road leading to its world-wide recognition and triumph. Little did he imagine that less than forty years after the death of Baha'u'llah His Cause, bursting beyond the confines of Persia and the East, would have penetrated the furthermost regions of the globe and would have encircled the whole earth. Scarcely would he have believed the prediction had he been told that the Cause would, within that period, have implanted its banner in the heart of the American continent, would have made itself felt in the leading capitals of Europe, would have reached out to the southern confines of Africa, and would <p665> have established its outposts as far as Australasia. Hardly would his imagination, fired as it was by a conviction as to the destiny of his Faith, have carried him to a point at which he could have pictured to his mind the Tomb Shrine of the Bab, of the ultimate destination of whose remains he confesses himself to be ignorant, embosomed in the heart of Carmel, a place of pilgrimage and a beacon of light to many a visitor from the ends of the earth. Hardly could he have imagined that the humble dwelling of Baha'u'llah, lost amid the tortuous lanes of old Baghdad, would one day, as a result of the machinations of a tireless enemy, have forced itself on the attention, and become the object of the earnest deliberations, of the assembled representatives of the leading Powers of Europe. Little did he imagine that, with all the praise he, in his narrative, lavishes upon Him, there would proceed from the Most Great Branch [1] a power that within a short period would have awakened the northern States of the American continent to the glory of the Revelation bequeathed to Him by Baha'u'llah. Little did he imagine that the dynasties of those monarchs the evidences of whose tyranny he recounts so vividly in his narrative, would have tottered to their fall and suffered the very fate which their representatives had so desperately striven to inflict upon their dreaded opponents. Little did he imagine that the whole ecclesiastical hierarchy of his country, the prime mover and the willing instrument of the abominations heaped upon his Faith, would so swiftly and easily be overthrown by the very forces <p666> it had attempted to subdue. Never would he have believed that the highest institutions of sunni Islam, the Sultanate and the Caliphate,[2] those twin oppressors of the Faith of Baha'u'llah, would have been swept away so ruthlessly by the very hands of the professing adherents of the Faith of <p667> Islam. Little did he imagine that side by side with the steady expansion of the Cause of Baha'u'llah the forces of consolidation and internal administration would so progress as to present to the world the unique spectacle of a Commonwealth of peoples, world-wide in its ramifications, united in its purpose, co-ordinated in its efforts, and fired by a zeal and enthusiasm that no amount of adversity can quench.

[1 Abdu'l-Baha's title.]

[2 "The Caliphate began with the election of Abu-Bakr in A.D. 632 and lasted until A.D. 1258, when Hulagu Khan sacked Baghdad and put Mu'tasim-Bi'llah to death. For nearly three centuries after this catastrophe the title of Caliph was perpetuated in Egypt by descendants of the House of Abbas who lived under the protection of its Mameluke rulers, until in A.D. 1517 Sultan Salim, the Osmanli, having conquered the Mameluke dynasty induced the helpless Caliph to transfer to him the title and insignia." (P. M. Sykes' "A History of Persia," vol. 2, p. 25.)]

And yet who knows what achievements, greater than any that the past and the present have witnessed, may not still be in store for those into whose hands so precious a heritage has been entrusted? Who knows but that out of the turmoil which agitates the face of present-day society there may not emerge, sooner than we expect, the World-Order of Baha'u'llah, the bare outline of which is being but faintly discerned among the world-wide communities that bear His name? For, great and marvellous as have been the achievements of the past, the glory of the golden age of the Cause, whose promise lies embedded within the shell of Baha'u'llah's immortal utterance, is yet to be revealed. Fierce as may seem the onslaught of the forces of darkness that may still afflict this Cause, desperate and prolonged as may be that struggle, severe as may be the disappointments it may still experience, the ascendancy it will eventually obtain will be such as no other Faith has ever in its history achieved. The welding of the communities of East and West into the world-wide Brotherhood of which poets and dreamers have sung, and the promise of which lies at the very core of the Revelation conceived by Baha'u'llah; the recognition of His law as the indissoluble bond uniting the peoples and nations of the earth; and the proclamation of the reign of the Most Great Peace, are but a few among the chapters of the glorious tale which the consummation of the Faith of Baha'u'llah will unfold.

Who knows but that triumphs, unsurpassed in splendour, are not in store for the mass of Baha'u'llah's toiling followers? Surely, we stand too near the colossal edifice His hand has reared to be able, at the present stage of the evolution of His Revelation, to claim to be able even to conceive the full measure of its promised glory. Its past history, stained by the blood of countless martyrs, may well inspire us with the <p668> thought that, whatever may yet befall this Cause, however formidable the forces that may still assail it, however numerous the reverses it will inevitably suffer, its onward march can never be stayed, and that it will continue to advance until the very last promise, enshrined within the words of Baha'u'llah, shall have been completely redeemed. <p669>




1. The Persian Bayan

2. The Arabie Bayan

3. The Qayyumu'l-Asma'

4. The Sahifatu'l-Haramayn

5. The Dala'il-i-Sab'ih

6. Commentary on the Surih of Kawthar

7. Commentary on the Surih of Va'l-'Asr

8. The Kitab-i-Asma'

9. Sahifiy-i-Makhdhumiyyih

10. Sahifiy-i-Ja'fariyyih

11. Ziyarat-i-Shah-'Abdu'l-'Azim

12. Kitab-i-Panj-Sha'n

13. Sahifiy-i-Radaviyyih

14. Risaliy-i-'Adliyyih

15. Risaliy-i-Fiqhiyyih

16. Risaliy-i-Dhahabiyyih

17. Kitabu'r-Ruh

18. Suriy-i-Tawhid

19. Lawh-i-Hurufat

20. Tafsir-i-Nubuwat-i-Khassih

21. Risaliy-i-Furu'-i-'Adliyyih

22. Khasa'il-i-Sab'ih

23. Epistles to Muhammad Shah and Haji Mirza Aqasi

N.B. The Bab Himself states in one passage of the Persian Bayan

that His writings comprise no less than 500,000 verses.


1. Lord Curzon's "Persia and the Persian Question" (2 vols.)

(Longmans, Green and Co., London, 1892)

2. A. L. M. Nicolas' "Essai sur le Shaykhisme I"

(Librarie Paul Geuthner, Rue Mazarine, Paris, 1910)

3. A. L. M. Nicolas' "Essai sur le Shaykhisme II"

(Librairie Paul Geuthner, Rue Magazine Paris 1914)

4. A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab"

(Libraine Critique, Rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Paris, 1908)

5. Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie

Centrale" (Les Editions G. Cres et Cie., Paris, Rue de Sevres, 1928)

6. Lady Sheil's "Glimpses of Life and Manners in Persia"

(John Murray, Albemarle Street, London, 1856)

7. "The Tarikh-i-Jadid," by Mirza Husayn of Hamadan, translated from the

Persian by E. G. Browne (The University Press, Cambridge, 1893)

8. M. Clement Huart's "La Religion de Bab"

(Ernat Leroue, Rue Bonaparte, Paris, 1889) <p670>

9. "A Traveller's Narrative," translated from the Persian by E. G. Browne

(The University Press, Cambridge, 1891)

10. "Le Bayan Persan," traduit du Persan par A. L. M. Nicolas (4 vols.)

11. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1889, articles 6, 12

12. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1892, articles, 7, 9, 13

13. "Le Livre des Sept Preuves," traduction par A. L. M. Nicolas

(J. Maisonneuve, Rue de Mezieres, Paris, 1902)

14. E. G. Browne's "A Year amongst the Persians"

(Messrs. A. and C. Black, Ltd., London, 1893)

15. E. G. Browne's "A Literary History of Persia" (4 vols.)

(The University Press, Cambridge, 1924)

16. Lieutenant-Colonel P. M. Sykes' "A History of Persia" (2 vols.)

(Macmillan Co., London, 1915)

17. Clements R. Markham's "A General Sketch or the History of Persia"

(Longman's Green and Co., London, 1874)

18. R. G. Watson's "History of Persia"

19. Journal Asiatique, 1806, sixieme serie, tomes 7, 8

("Bab et les Babis," by Mirza Kazim Big)

20. M. J. Balteau's "Le Babisme"

(Lecture faite par M. J. Balteau, membre titulaire, a la seance du 22

mai, 1896. Academie Nationale de Reims. Imprimerie de

l'Academie, Reims, N. Monce, Directeur; 24 Rue Pluche, 1897)

21. Gabriel Sacy's "Du Regne de Dieu et de l'Agneau connu sous le nom de


(12 Juin, 1902)

22. J. E. Esslemont's "Baha'u'llah and the New Era"

(The Baha'i Publishing Committee, New York, 1927)

23. Muhammad Mustafa's "Risaliy-i-Amriyyih"

(Imprimerie Sa'adih, Cairo, Egypt)

24. E. G. Browne's "Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion"

(The University Press, Cambridge, 1918)

25. Mirza Abu'l-Fadl's manuscripts and notes (unpublished)

26. Mirza Abu'l-Fadl's "The Kashfu'l-Ghita'"

(Ishqabad, Russia)

27. M. H. Phelps' "Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi"

(G. P. Putnam's Sons London, 1912)

28. T. K. Cheyne's "The Reconciliation of Races and Religions"

(Adam and Charles Black, 1914)

29. Sir Francis Younghusband's "The Gleam"

(John Murray, Albemarle Street, London, 1923)

30. Samandar's manuscript (unpublished)

31. E. G. Browne's "The Persian Revolution"

(The University Press, Cambridge, 1910)

32. The Christian Commonwealth, January 22, 1913.

33. G. K. Nariman's "Persia and Parsis," Part I

(The Iran League, Bombay, 1925)

34. Valentine Chirol's "The Middle Eastern Question"

35. J. Estlin Carpenter's "Comparative Religion"

36. E. J. W. Gibb Memorial Series, vol. 15

(Luzac Co., London, 1910)

37. "The Nasikhu't-Tavarikh" (Qajarayyih volume), by Mirza Taqi Mustawfi,

Lisanu'l-Mulk, known as Sipihr

(Lithograph edition, Tihran)

38. Haji Mu'inu's-Saltanih's "History" (manuscript)

39. Mirza Abu'l-Fadl's "Kitabu'-Fara'id" (Cairo edition)

Works of Baha'u'llah:

"Kitab-i-Iqan" (Cairo edition, 1900)

"Epistle to the Son of the Wolf" (Cairo edition, 1920) <p671>

"Ishraqat" (manuscript)

"Tablets to the Kings" (manuscript)

Works of the Bab:

"Sahifatu'l-Haramayn" (manuscript)

"Qayyumu'l-Asma' " "

"Persian Bayan" "

"Arabic Bayan" "

"Dala'il-i-Sab'ih" "

Works of Abdu'l-Baha:

"Some Answered Questions" (Baha'i Publishing Society, Chicago, 1918)

"Memorials of the Faithful" (Haifa edition, 1924)

N.B. For a general and fuller bibliography, refer to:

1. Baha'i World, vol. iii, part 3

2. A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 22-53

3. E. G. Browne's "Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion,"

pp. 175-243

4. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1892, pp. 433-99, 637-710

5. "A Traveller's Narrative," pp. 173-211


"There is no fixed principle or permanence in the administrative

subdivisions of Persia. Their separation or combination is regulated by the

ability or reputation of their governors, and by the scope that may be

conceded thereto by the confidence or the fears of the sovereign.... It

should further be remarked that no principle, geographical, ethnographical,

or political, appears to be adopted in determining the borders and sizes of

the various divisions, which vary in extent from a province larger than the

whole of England, to a small and decayed town with its immediate



Administrative Division Capital

Adhirbayjan Tabriz

Khurasan and Sistan Mashhad

Tihran and Dependencies Tihran

Fars Shiraz

Isfahan and Dependencies Isfahan

Kirman and Persian Baluchistan Kirman

Arabistan Shushtar

Gilan and Talish Rasht

Mazindaran Amul

Yazd and Dependencies Yazd

Persian Gulf Littoral and Islands Bushihr

(From Lord Curzon's "Persia and the Persian Question," vol. 1, p. 437.)


1814 November . . . . . . . . . . Mr. Morier and Mr. Ellis.

1815 July . . . . . . . . . . . . Sir Henry Willock.

1826 September . . . . . . . . . Sir John Macdonald.

1830 June . . . . . . . . . . . . Sir John Campbell.

1835 November . . . . . . . . . . Sir Henry Ellis.

1836 August . . . . . . . . . . . Sir John McNeill.

1842 August . . . . . . . . . . . Sir Justin Sheil.

1847 October . . . . . . . . . . Colonel Farrant (acting).

1849 November . . . . . . . . . . Sir Justin Sheil (returned from leave).

1853 February . . . . . . . . . . Mr. Taylor Thomson (acting).

1855 April . . . . . . . . . . . Hon. A. C. Murray. <p672>

1817 August . . . . . . . . . . . General Yermoloff.

1819 April . . . . . . . . . . . M. Mazarowitch.

1823 January . . . . . . . . . . M. Ambourger (acting).

1824 July . . . . . . . . . . . . M. Mazarowitch (returned from leave).

1825 September . . . . . . . . . M. Amboureer.

1826 July . . . . . . . . . . . . Prince Menschikoff.

1828 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . M. Grebayadoff.

1831 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Prince Dolgorouki.

1833 February . . . . . . . . . . Count Simonich.

1839 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Count Meden.

1846 January . . . . . . . . . . Prince Dologorouki.

1854 September . . . . . . . . . M. Anitchkoff.

(From Clements R. Markham, C.B., F.R.S., "A General Sketch of the History

of Persia," Appendix B. Longmans, Green and Co., London, 1874.)


Muharram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 days

Safar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 "

Rabi'u'l-Avval . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 "

Rabi'u'th-Thani . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 "

Jamadiyu'-Avval . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 "

Jamadiy'th-Thani . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 "

Rajab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 "

Sha'ban . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 "

Ramadan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 "

Shavval . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 "

Dhi'l-Qa'dih . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 "

Dhi'l-Hijjih . . . . . . . . . . . . 29-30 "

Muharram 1, 1 A.H. . . . . . . . . . July 16, 622 A.D. Friday.

Muharram 1, 1260 " . . . . . . . . . . . January 22, 1844 " Monday.

Muharram 1, 1261 " . . . . . . . . . . . January 10, 1845 " Friday.

Muharram 1, 1262 " . . . . . . . . . . . December 30, 1845 " Tuesday.

Muharram 1, 1263 " . . . . . . . . . . . December 20, 1846 " Sunday.

Muharram 1, 1264 " . . . . . . . . . . . December 9, 1847 " Thursday.

Muharram 1, 1265 " . . . . . . . . . . . November 27, 1848 " Monday.

Muharram 1, 1266 " . . . . . . . . . . . November 17, 1849 " Saturday.

Muharram 1, 1267 " . . . . . . . . . . . November 6, 1850 " Wednesday.

Muharram 1, 1268 " . . . . . . . . . . . October 27, 1851 " Monday.

Muharram 1, 1269 " . . . . . . . . . . . October 15, 1852 " Friday.

Muharram 1, 1270 " . . . . . . . . . . . October 4, 1853 " Tuesday.

(From "Wustemfield-Mahler'sche Vegleichungs-Tabellen," Leipzig, 1926.) <p673>




[A box with Arabic script and their equal in transliterated English letters

appears in the space provided below the above description. Pronunciation of

the English letters appearing therein is described below.]

th [underlined] pronounced as s

dh [underlined] pronounced as z

zh [underlined] pronounced as j (French)

s [with dot beneath] pronounced as s

d [with dot beneath] pronounced as z

t [with dot beneath] pronounced as t

z [with dot beneath] pronounced as z

a as in account

a [with accent] as in arm

i as e in best

i [with accent] as ee in meet

u as o in short

u [with accent] as oo in moon

aw as in mown

The "i" added to the name of a town signifies "belonging to"; thus

Shirazi means native of Shiraz.

N.B. The spelling of the Oriental words and proper names used in this

book is according to the system of transliteration established at one of the

International Oriental Congresses. <p674>


Aba: Cloak or mantle.

Adhan: Muslim call to prayer.

A.H.: "After Hijirah. "Date of Muhammad's migration from Mecca to

Medina, and basis of Muhammadan chronology.

Akbar: "Greater."

Amir: "Lord," "prince," "commander," "governor."

Aqa: Title given by Baha'u'llah to Abdu'l-Baha.

A'zam: "The greatest."

Bab: "Gate." Title assumed by Mirza Ali-Muhammad after the

declaration of His Mission in Shiraz in May, 1844, A.D.

Baha: "Glory," "splendour," "light." Title by which Baha'u'llah

(Mirza Husayn-'Ali) is designated.

Baqiyyatu'llah: "Remnant of God." Title applied both to the Bab and to


Bayan: "Utterance," "explanation." Title given by the Bab to His

Revelation, particularly to His Books.

Big: Honorary title; lower title than Khan

Caravanserai: An inn for caravans.

Darughih: "High constable."

Dawlih: "State," "government."

Farman: "Order," "command," "royal decree."

Farrash: "Footman," "lictor," "attendant."

Farrash-Bashi: The head farrash.

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 miles. Arabicised

from the old Persian "parsang," and supposed to be derived from pieces

of stone (sang) placed on the roadside.

Haji: A Muhammadan who has performed the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Howdah: A litter carried by a camel, mule, horse, or elephant for

travelling purposes.

Il: "Clan."

Imam: Title of the twelve shi'ah successors of Muhammad. Also applied

to Muslim religious leaders.

Imam-Jum'ih: The leading imam in a town or city; chief of the mullas.

Imam-Zadih: Descendant of an imam, or his shrine.

Jubbih: An upper coat.

Ka'bih: Ancient shrine at Mecca. Now recognized as the most holy

shrine of Islam.

Kad-Khuda: Chief of a ward or parish in a town; headman of a village. <p675>

Kalantar: "Mayor."

Kalim: "One who discourses."

Karbila'i: A Muhammadan who has performed the pilgrimage to Karbila.

Khan: "Prince," "lord," "nobleman," "chieftain."

Kulah: The Persian lambskin hat worn by government employees

and civilians.

Madrisih: Religious college.

Man-Yuzhiruh'llah: "He whom God will make manifest." Title given by the

Bab to the promised One.

Mashhadi: A Muhammadan who has performed the pilgrimage to Mashhad.

Masjid: Mosque, temple, place of worship.

Maydan: A subdivision of a farsakh. A square or open place.

Mihdi: Title of the Manifestation expected by Islam.

Mihrab: The principal place in a mosque, where the imam prays with

his face turned towards Mecca.

Mi'raj: "Ascent"; used with reference to Muhammad's ascension to


Mirza: A contraction of Amir-Zadih, meaning son of Amir. When affixed

to a name, it signifies prince; when prefixed, simply Mr.

Mu'adhdhin: The one who sounds the Adhan, the Muhammadan call to


Mujtahid: Muhammadan doctor of law. Most of the mujtahids of Persia

have received their diplomas from the most eminent jurists of

Karbila and Najaf.

Mulla: Muhammadan priest.

Mustaghath: "He who is invoked"; the numerical value of which has been

assigned by the Bab as the limit of the time fixed for the advent

of the promised Manifestation.

Nabil: "Learned," "noble."

Naw-Ruz: "New Day." Name applied to the Baha'i New Year's Day;

according to the Persian calendar, the day on which the sun

enters Aries.

Nuqtih: "Point."

Pahlavan: "Athlete," "champion." Term applied to brave and muscular


Qadi: Judge: civil, criminal, and ecclesiastical

Qa'im: "He who shall arise." Title designating the promised One of


Qalyan: A pipe for smoking through water.

Qiblih: The direction to which people turn in prayer; especially Mecca,

the Qiblih of all Muhammadans.

Qurban: "Sacrifice."

Sahibu'z-Zaman: "Lord of the Age." One of the titles of the promised Qa'im.

Shahid: "Martyr." The plural of martyr is "Shuhada." <p676>

Shaykhu'l-Islam: Head of religious court, appointed to every large city by

the Shah.

Siyyid: Descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.

Surih: Name of the chapters of the Qur'an.

Tuman: A sum of money equivalent to a dollar.

Vali-'Ahd: "Heir to the throne."

Zadih: "Son."