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Title: Memorials of the Faithful
Author: `Abdu'l-Bahá, 1844-1921
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Memorials of the Faithful


by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá



Edition 1, (September 2006)



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                                 CONTENTS


Baha’i Terms of Use
Nabíl-i-Akbar
Ismu’lláhu’l-Asdaq
Mullá ‘Alí-Akbar
Shaykh Salmán
Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alí, the Afnán
Hájí Mírzá Hasan, the Afnán
Muhammad-‘Alíy-i-Isfáhání
‘Abdu’s-Sálih, the Gardener
Ustád Ismá’íl
Nabíl-i-Zarandí
Darvísh Sidq-‘Alí
Áqá Mírzá Mahmúd and Áqá Ridá
Pidar-Ján of Qazvín
Shaykh Sádiq-i-Yazdí
Sháh-Muhammad-Amín
Mashhadí Fattah
Nabíl of Qá’in
Siyyid Muhammad-Taqí Manshadí
Muhammad-‘Alí Sabbáq of Yazd
‘Abdu’l-Ghaffár of Isfáhán
‘Alí Najaf-Ábádí
Hájí ‘Abdu’r-Rahím-i-Yazdí
Hájí ‘Abdu’lláh Najaf-Ábádí
Muhammad-Hádíy-i-Sahháf
Mírzá Muhammad-Qulí
Ustád Báqir and Ustád Ahmad
Muhammad Haná-Sab
Hájí Faraju’lláh Tafríshí
Áqá Ibráhím-i-Isfáhání and His Brothers
Áqá Muhammad-Ibráhím
Zaynu’l-Ábidín Yazdí
Hájí Mullá Mihdíy-i-Yazdí
Hájí Muhammad Khán
Áqá Muhammad-Ibráhím Amír
Mírzá Mihdíy-i-Káshání
Mishkín-Qalam
Ustád ‘Alí-Akbar-i-Najjár
Shaykh ‘Alí-Akbar-i-Mazgání
Mírzá Muhammad, the Servant at the Travelers’ Hospice
Mírzá Muhammad-i-Vakíl
Hájí Muhammad-Ridáy-i-Shírází
Husayn Effendi Tabrízí
Jamshíd-i-Gurjí
Hájí Ja’far-i-Tabrízí and His Brothers
Hájí Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí, the Afnán
‘Abdu’lláh Baghdádí
Muhammad-Mustafá Baghdádí
Sulaymán Khán-i-Tunúkábání
‘Abdu’r-Rahmán, the Coppersmith
Muhammad-Ibráhím-i-Tabrízí
Muhammad-‘Alíy-i-Ardikání
Hájí Áqáy-i-Tabrízí
Qulám-‘Alíy-i-Najjár
Mírzá Mustafá Naráqí
Zaynu’l-Muqarrabín
Azím-i-Tafríshí
Mírzá Ja’far-i-Yazdí
Husayn-Áqáy-i-Tabrízí
Hájí ‘Alí-‘Askar-i-Tabrízí
Áqá ‘Alíy-i-Qazvíní
Abu’l-Qásim of Sultán-Ábád
Áqá Faraj
Shamsu’d-Duhá
Táhirih



NABÍL-I-AKBAR


There was, in the city of Najaf, among the disciples of the widely known
mujtahid, _Sh_ay_kh_ Murtadá, a man without likeness or peer. His name was
Áqá Muḥammad-i-Qá’iní, and later on he would receive, from the
Manifestation, the title of Nabíl-i-Akbar.(1) This eminent soul became the
leading member of the mujtahid’s company of disciples. Singled out from
among them all, he alone was given the rank of mujtahid—for the late
_Sh_ay_kh_ Murtadá was never wont to confer this degree.

He excelled not only in theology but in other branches of knowledge, such
as the humanities, the philosophy of the Illuminati, the teachings of the
mystics and of the _Sh_ay_kh_í School. He was a universal man, in himself
alone a convincing proof. When his eyes were opened to the light of Divine
guidance, and he breathed in the fragrances of Heaven, he became a flame
of God. Then his heart leapt within him, and in an ecstasy of joy and
love, he roared out like leviathan in the deep.

With praises showered upon him, he received his new rank from the
mujtahid. He then left Najaf and came to Ba_gh_dád, and here he was
honored with meeting Bahá’u’lláh. Here he beheld the light that blazed on
Sinai in the Holy Tree. Soon he was in such a state that he could rest
neither day nor night.

One day, on the floor of the outer apartments reserved for the men, the
honored Nabíl was reverently kneeling in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. At
that moment Ḥájí Mírzá Ḥasan-‘Amú, a trusted associate of the mujtahids of
Karbilá, came in with Zaynu’l-Ábidín _Kh_án, the Fa_kh_ru’d-Dawlih.
Observing how humbly and deferentially Nabíl was kneeling there, the Ḥájí
was astonished.

“Sir,” he murmured, “what are you doing in this place?”

Nabíl answered, “I came here for the same reason you did.”

The two visitors could not recover from their surprise, for it was widely
known that this personage was unique among mujtahids and was the most
favored disciple of the renowned _Sh_ay_kh_ Murtadá.

Later, Nabíl-i-Akbar left for Persia and went on to _Kh_urásán. The Amír
of Qá’in—Mír Álam _Kh_án—showed him every courtesy at first, and greatly
valued his company. So marked was this that people felt the Amír was
captivated by him, and indeed he was spellbound at the scholar’s
eloquence, knowledge, and accomplishments. One can judge, from this, what
honors were accorded to Nabíl by the rest, for “men follow the faith of
their kings.”

Nabíl spent some time thus esteemed and in high favor, but the love he had
for God was past all concealing. It burst from his heart, flamed out and
consumed its coverings.

A thousand ways I tried
My love to hide—
But how could I, upon that blazing pyre
Not catch fire!

He brought light to the Qá’in area and converted a great number of people.
And when he had become known far and wide by this new name, the clergy,
envious and malevolent, arose, and informed against him, sending their
calumnies on to Ṭihrán, so that Náṣiri’d-Dín _Sh_áh rose up in wrath.
Terrified of the _Sh_áh, the Amír attacked Nabíl with all his might. Soon
the whole city was in an uproar, and the populace, lashed to fury, turned
upon him.

That enraptured lover of God never gave way, but withstood them all. At
last, however, they drove him out—drove out that man who saw what they did
not—and he went up to Ṭihrán, where he was a fugitive, and homeless.

Here, his enemies struck at him again. He was pursued by the watchmen;
guards looked everywhere for him, asking after him in every street and
alley, hunting him down to catch and torture him. Hiding, he would pass by
them like the sigh of the oppressed, and rise to the hills; or again, like
the tears of the wronged, he would slip down into the valleys. He could no
longer wear the turban denoting his rank; he disguised himself, putting on
a layman’s hat, so that they would fail to recognize him and would let him
be.

In secret, with all his powers he kept on spreading the Faith and setting
forth its proofs, and was a guiding lamp to many souls. He was exposed to
danger at all times, always vigilant and on his guard. The Government
never gave up its search for him, nor did the people cease from discussing
his case.

He left, then, for Bu_kh_árá and I_sh_qábád, continuously teaching the
Faith in those regions. Like a candle, he was using up his life; but in
spite of his sufferings he was never dispirited, rather his joy and ardor
increased with every passing day. He was eloquent of speech; he was a
skilled physician, a remedy for every ill, a balm to every sore. He would
guide the Illuminati by their own philosophical principles, and with the
mystics he would prove the Divine Advent in terms of “inspiration” and the
“celestial vision.” He would convince the _Sh_ay_kh_í leaders by quoting
the very words of their late Founders, _Sh_ay_kh_ Aḥmad and Siyyid Kázim,
and would convert Islamic theologians with texts from the Qur’án and
traditions from the Imáms, who guide mankind aright. Thus he was an
instant medicine to the ailing, and a rich bestowal to the poor.

He became penniless in Bu_kh_árá and a prey to many troubles, until at the
last, far from his homeland, he died, hastening away to the Kingdom where
no poverty exists.

Nabíl-i-Akbar was the author of a masterly essay demonstrating the truth
of the Cause, but the friends do not have it in hand at the present time.
I hope that it will come to light, and will serve as an admonition to the
learned. It is true that in this swiftly passing world he was the target
of countless woes; and yet, all those generations of powerful clerics,
those _sh_ay_kh_s like Murtadá and Mírzá Habíbu’lláh and
Áyatu’lláh-i-_Kh_urásání and Mullá Asadu’lláh-i-Mazandarání—all of them
will disappear without a trace. They will leave no name behind them, no
sign, no fruit. No word will be passed down from any of them; no man will
tell of them again. But because he stood steadfast in this holy Faith,
because he guided souls and served this Cause and spread its fame, that
star, Nabíl, will shine forever from the horizon of abiding light.

It is clear that whatever glory is gained outside the Cause of God turns
to abasement at the end; and ease and comfort not met with on the path of
God are finally but care and sorrow; and all such wealth is penury, and
nothing more.

A sign of guidance, he was, an emblem of the fear of God. For this Faith,
he laid down his life, and in dying, triumphed. He passed by the world and
its rewards; he closed his eyes to rank and wealth; he loosed himself from
all such chains and fetters, and put every worldly thought aside. Of wide
learning, at once a mujtahid, a philosopher, a mystic, and gifted with
intuitive sight, he was also an accomplished man of letters and an orator
without a peer. He had a great and universal mind.

Praise be to God, at the end he was made the recipient of heavenly grace.
Upon him be the glory of God, the All-Glorious. May God shed the
brightness of the Abhá Kingdom upon his resting-place. May God welcome him
into the Paradise of reunion, and shelter him forever in the realm of the
righteous, submerged in an ocean of lights.



ISMU’LLÁHU’L-ASDAQ


Among the Hands of the Cause of God who have departed this life and
ascended to the Supreme Horizon was Jináb-i-Ismu’lláhu’l-Asdaq. Another
was Jináb-i-Nabíl-i-Akbar. Still others were Jináb-i-Mullá ‘Alí-Akbar and
Jináb-i-_Sh_ay_kh_ Muḥammad-Riḍáy-i-Yazdí. Again, among others, was the
revered martyr, Áqá Mírzá Varqá.

Ismu’lláhu’l-Asdaq was truly a servant of the Lord from the beginning of
life till his last breath. When young, he joined the circle of the late
Siyyid Kázim and became one of his disciples. He was known in Persia for
his purity of life, winning fame as Mullá Ṣádiq the saintly. He was a
blessed individual, a man accomplished, learned, and much honored. The
people of _Kh_urásán were strongly attached to him, for he was a great
scholar and among the most renowned of matchless and unique divines. As a
teacher of the Faith, he spoke with such eloquence, such extraordinary
power, that his hearers were won over with great ease.

After he had come to Ba_gh_dád and attained the presence of Bahá’u’lláh,
he was seated one day in the courtyard of the men’s apartments, by the
little garden. I was in one of the rooms just above, that gave onto the
courtyard. At that moment a Persian prince, a grandson of Fatḥ-‘Alí
_Sh_áh, arrived at the house. The prince said to him, “Who are you?”
Ismu’lláh answered, “I am a servant of this Threshhold. I am one of the
keepers of this door.” And as I listened from above, he began to teach the
Faith. The prince at first objected violently; and yet, in a quarter of an
hour, gently and benignly, Jináb-i-Ismu’lláh had quieted him down. After
the prince had so sharply denied what was said, and his face had so
clearly reflected his fury, now his wrath was changed to smiles and he
expressed the greatest satisfaction at having encountered Ismu’lláh and
heard what he had to say.

He always taught cheerfully and with gaiety, and would respond gently and
with good humor, no matter how much passionate anger might be turned
against him by the one with whom he spoke. His way of teaching was
excellent. He was truly Ismu’lláh, the Name of God, not for his fame but
because he was a chosen soul.

Ismu’lláh had memorized a great number of Islámic traditions and had
mastered the teachings of _Sh_ay_kh_ Aḥmad and Siyyid Kázim. He became a
believer in _Sh_íráz, in the early days of the Faith, and was soon widely
known as such. And because he began to teach openly and boldly, they hung
a halter on him and led him about the streets and bázárs of the city. Even
in that condition, composed and smiling, he kept on speaking to the
people. He did not yield; he was not silenced. When they freed him he left
_Sh_íráz and went to _Kh_urásán, and there, too, began to spread the
Faith, following which he traveled on, in the company of Bábu’l-Báb, to
Fort Tabarsí. Here he endured intense sufferings as a member of that band
of sacrificial victims. They took him prisoner at the Fort and delivered
him over to the chiefs of Mázindarán, to lead him about and finally kill
him in a certain district of that province. When, bound with chains,
Ismu’lláh was brought to the appointed place, God put it into one man’s
heart to free him from prison in the middle of the night and guide him to
a place where he was safe. Throughout all these agonizing trials he
remained staunch in his faith.

Think, for example, how the enemy had completely hemmed in the Fort, and
were endlessly pouring in cannon balls from their siege guns. The
believers, among them Ismu’lláh, went eighteen days without food. They
lived on the leather of their shoes. This too was soon consumed, and they
had nothing left but water. They drank a mouthful every morning, and lay
famished and exhausted in their Fort. When attacked, however, they would
instantly spring to their feet, and manifest in the face of the enemy a
magnificent courage and astonishing resistance, and drive the army back
from their walls. The hunger lasted eighteen days. It was a terrible
ordeal. To begin with, they were far from home, surrounded and cut off by
the foe; again, they were starving; and then there were the army’s sudden
onslaughts and the bombshells raining down and bursting in the heart of
the Fort. Under such circumstances to maintain an unwavering faith and
patience is extremely difficult, and to endure such dire afflictions a
rare phenomenon.(2)

Ismu’lláh did not slacken under fire. Once freed, he taught more widely
than ever. He spent every waking breath in calling the people to the
Kingdom of God. In ‘Iráq, he attained the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, and
again in the Most Great Prison, receiving from Him grace and favor.

He was like a surging sea, a falcon that soared high. His visage shone,
his tongue was eloquent, his strength and steadfastness astounding. When
he opened his lips to teach, the proofs would stream out; when he chanted
or prayed, his eyes shed tears like a spring cloud. His face was luminous,
his life spiritual, his knowledge both acquired and innate; and celestial
was his ardor, his detachment from the world, his righteousness, his piety
and fear of God.

Ismu’lláh’s tomb is in Hamadán. Many a Tablet was revealed for him by the
Supreme Pen of Bahá’u’lláh, including a special Visitation Tablet after
his passing. He was a great personage, perfect in all things.

Such blessed beings have now left this world. Thank God, they did not
linger on, to witness the agonies that followed the ascension of
Bahá’u’lláh—the intense afflictions; for firmly rooted mountains will
shake and tremble at these, and the high-towering hills bow down.

He was truly Ismu’lláh, the Name of God. Fortunate is the one who
circumambulates that tomb, who blesses himself with the dust of that
grave. Upon him be salutations and praise in the Abhá Realm.



MULLÁ ‘ALÍ-AKBAR


Yet another Hand of the Cause was the revered Mullá ‘Alí-Akbar, upon him
be the glory of God, the All-Glorious. Early in life, this illustrious man
attended institutions of higher learning and labored diligently, by day
and night, until he became thoroughly conversant with the learning of the
day, with secular studies, philosophy, and religious jurisprudence. He
frequented the gatherings of philosophers, mystics, and _Sh_ay_kh_ís,
thoughtfully traversing those areas of knowledge, intuitive wisdom, and
illumination; but he thirsted after the wellspring of truth, and hungered
for the bread that comes down from Heaven. No matter how he strove to
perfect himself in those regions of the mind, he was never satisfied; he
never reached the goal of his desires; his lips stayed parched; he was
confused, perplexed, and felt that he had wandered from his path. The
reason was that in all those circles he had found no passion; no joy, no
ecstasy; no faintest scent of love. And as he went deeper into the core of
those manifold beliefs, he discovered that from the day of the Prophet
Muḥammad’s advent until our own times, innumerable sects have arisen:
creeds differing among themselves; disparate opinions, divergent goals,
uncounted roads and ways. And he found each one, under some plea or other,
claiming to reveal spiritual truth; each one believing that it alone
followed the true path—this although the Muḥammedic sea could rise in one
great tide, and carry all those sects away to the ocean floor. “No cry
shalt thou hear from them, nor a whisper even.”(3)

Whoso ponders the lessons of history will learn that this sea has lifted
up innumerable waves, yet in the end each has dissolved and vanished, like
a shadow drifting by. The waves have perished, but the sea lives on. This
is why ‘Alí Qabl-i-Akbar could never quench his thirst, till the day when
he stood on the shore of Truth and cried:

Here is a sea with treasure to the brim;
Its waves toss pearls under the great wind’s thong.
Throw off your robe and plunge, nor try to swim,
Pride not yourself on swimming—dive headlong.

Like a fountain, his heart welled and jetted forth; meaning and truth,
like soft-flowing crystal waters, began to stream from his lips. At first,
with humility, with spiritual poverty, he garnered the new light, and only
then he proceeded to shed it abroad. For how well has it been said,

Shall he the gift of life to others bear
Who of life’s gift has never had a share?

A teacher must proceed in this way: he must first teach himself, and then
others. If he himself still walks the path of carnal appetites and lusts,
how can he guide another to the “evident signs”(4) of God?

This honored man was successful in converting a multitude. For the sake of
God he cast all caution aside, as he hastened along the ways of love. He
became as one frenzied, as a vagrant and one known to be mad. Because of
his new Faith, he was mocked at in Ṭihrán by high and low. When he walked
through the streets and bázárs, the people pointed their fingers at him,
calling him a Bahá’í. Whenever trouble broke out, he was the one to be
arrested first. He was always ready and waiting for this, since it never
failed.

Again and again he was bound with chains, jailed, and threatened with the
sword. The photograph of this blessed individual, together with that of
the great Amín, taken of them in their chains, will serve as an example to
whoever has eyes to see. There they sit, those two distinguished men, hung
with chains, shackled, yet composed, acquiescent, undisturbed.

Things came to such a pass that in the end whenever there was an uproar
Mullá ‘Alí would put on his turban, wrap himself in his ‘abá and sit
waiting, for his enemies to rouse and the farrá_sh_es to break in and the
guards to carry him off to prison. But observe the power of God! In spite
of all this, he was kept safe. “The sign of a knower and lover is this,
that you will find him dry in the sea.” That is how he was. His life hung
by a thread from one moment to the next; the malevolent lay in wait for
him; he was known everywhere as a Bahá’í—and still he was protected from
all harm. He stayed dry in the depths of the sea, cool and safe in the
heart of the fire, until the day he died.

After the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, Mullá ‘Alí continued on, loyal to the
Testament of the Light of the World, staunch in the Covenant which he
served and heralded. During the lifetime of the Manifestation, his
yearning made him hasten to Bahá’u’lláh, Who received him with grace and
favor, and showered blessings upon him. He returned, then, to Írán, where
he devoted all his time to serving the Cause. Openly at odds with his
tyrannical oppressors, no matter how often they threatened him, he defied
them. He was never vanquished. Whatever he had to say, he said. He was one
of the Hands of the Cause of God, steadfast, unshakable, not to be moved.

I loved him very much, for he was delightful to converse with, and as a
companion second to none. One night, not long ago, I saw him in the world
of dreams. Although his frame had always been massive, in the dream world
he appeared larger and more corpulent than ever. It seemed as if he had
returned from a journey. I said to him, “Jináb, you have grown good and
stout.” “Yes,” he answered, “praise be to God! I have been in places where
the air was fresh and sweet, and the water crystal pure; the landscapes
were beautiful to look upon, the foods delectable. It all agreed with me,
of course, so I am stronger than ever now, and I have recovered the zest
of my early youth. The breaths of the All-Merciful blew over me and all my
time was spent in telling of God. I have been setting forth His proofs,
and teaching His Faith.” (The meaning of teaching the Faith in the next
world is spreading the sweet savors of holiness; that action is the same
as teaching.) We spoke together a little more, and then some people
arrived and he disappeared.

His last resting-place is in Ṭihrán. Although his body lies under the
earth, his pure spirit lives on, “in the seat of truth, in the presence of
the potent King.”(5) I long to visit the graves of the friends of God,
could this be possible. These are the servants of the Blessed Beauty; in
His path they were afflicted; they met with toil and sorrow; they
sustained injuries and suffered harm. Upon them be the glory of God, the
All-Glorious. Unto them be salutation and praise. Upon them be God’s
tender mercy, and forgiveness.



SHAYKH SALMÁN


In 1266 A.H.(6) the trusted messenger, _Sh_ay_kh_ Salmán, first heard the
summons of God, and his heart leapt for joy. He was then in Hindíyán.
Irresistibly attracted, he walked all the way to Ṭihrán, where with ardent
love he secretly joined the believers. On a certain day he was passing
through the bázár with Áqá Muḥammad Taqíy-i-Ká_sh_ání, and the farrá_sh_es
followed him and discovered where he lived. The next day, police and
farrá_sh_es came looking for him and took him to the chief of police.

“Who are you?” the chief asked.

“I am from Hindíyán,” replied Salmán. “I have come to Ṭihrán and am on my
way to _Kh_urásán, for a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Imám Riḍá.”

“What were you doing yesterday,” the chief asked, “with that man in the
white robe?”

Salmán answered, “I had sold him an ‘abá the day before, and yesterday he
was to pay me.”

“You are a stranger here,” the chief said. “How could you trust him?”

“A money-changer guaranteed the payment,” Salmán replied. He had in mind
the respected believer, Áqá Muḥammad-i-Sarraf (money-changer).

The chief turned to one of his farrá_sh_es and said, “Take him to the
money-changer’s and look into it.”

When they reached there the farrá_sh_ went on ahead. “What was all this,”
he said, “about the sale of an ‘abá and your vouching for the payment?
Explain yourself.”

“I know nothing about it,” the money-changer replied. “Come along,” said
the farrá_sh_ to Salmán. “All is clear at last. You are a Bábí.”

It happened that the turban which Salmán had on his head was similar to
those worn in _Sh_ú_sh_tar. As they were passing a crossroads, a man from
_Sh_ú_sh_tar came out of his shop. He embraced Salmán and cried: “Where
have you been, _Kh_ájih Muḥammad-‘Alí? When did you arrive? Welcome!”

Salmán replied, “I came here a few days ago and now the police have
arrested me.”

“What do you want with him?” the merchant asked the farrá_sh_. “What are
you after?”

“He is a Bábí,” was the answer. “God forbid!” cried the man from
_Sh_ú_sh_tar. “I know him well. _Kh_ájih Muḥammad-‘Alí is a God-fearing
Muslim, a _Sh_í’ih, a devout follower of the Imám ‘Alí.” With this he gave
the farrá_sh_ a sum of money and Salmán was freed.

They went into the shop and the merchant began to ask Salmán how he was
faring. Salmán told him: “I am not _Kh_ájih Muḥammad-‘Alí.”

The man from _Sh_ú_sh_tar was dumbfounded. “You look exactly like him!” he
exclaimed. “You two are identical. However, since you are not he, give me
back the money I paid the farrá_sh_.”

Salmán immediately handed him the money, left, went out through the city
gate and made for Hindíyán.

When Bahá’u’lláh arrived in ‘Iráq, the first messenger to reach His holy
presence was Salmán, who then returned with Tablets addressed to the
friends in Hindíyán. Once each year, this blessed individual would set out
on foot to see his Well-Beloved, after which he would retrace his steps,
carrying Tablets to many cities, Iṣfáhán, _Sh_íráz, Ká_sh_án, Ṭihrán, and
the rest.

From the year 69 until the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh in 1309 A.H.,(7)
Salmán would arrive once a year, bringing letters, leaving with the
Tablets, faithfully delivering each one to him for whom it was intended.
Every single year throughout that long period, he came on foot from Persia
to ‘Iráq, or to Adrianople, or to the Most Great Prison at Akká; came with
the greatest eagerness and love, and then went back again.

He had remarkable powers of endurance. He traveled on foot, as a rule
eating nothing but onions and bread; and in all that time, he moved about
in such a way that he was never once held up and never once lost a letter
or a Tablet. Every letter was safely delivered; every Tablet reached its
intended recipient. Over and over again, in Iṣfáhán, he was subjected to
severe trials, but he remained patient and thankful under all conditions,
and earned from non-Bahá’ís the title of “the Bábís’ Angel Gabriel.”

Throughout his entire life, Salmán rendered this momentous service to the
Cause of God, becoming the means of its spread and contributing to the
happiness of the believers, annually bringing Divine glad tidings to the
cities and villages of Persia. He was close to the heart of Bahá’u’lláh,
Who looked upon him with especial favor and grace. Among the Holy
Scriptures, there are Tablets revealed in his name.

After the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, Salmán remained faithful to the
Covenant, serving the Cause with all his powers. Then, as before, he would
come to the Most Great Prison every year, delivering mail from the
believers, and returning with the answers to Persia. At last, in _Sh_íráz,
he winged his way to the Kingdom of glory.

From the dawn of history until the present day, there has never been a
messenger so worthy of trust; there has never been a courier to compare
with Salmán. He has left respected survivors in Iṣfáhán who, because of
the troubles in Persia, are presently in distress. It is certain that the
friends will see to their needs. Upon him be the glory of God, the
All-Glorious; unto him be salutations and praise.



MÍRZÁ MUḤAMMAD-‘ALÍ, THE AFNÁN


In the days of Bahá’u’lláh, during the worst times in the Most Great
Prison, they would not permit any of the friends either to leave the
Fortress or to come in from the outside. “Skew-Cap”(8) and the Siyyid(9)
lived by the second gate of the city, and watched there at all times, day
and night. Whenever they spied a Bahá’í traveler they would hurry away to
the Governor and tell him that the traveler was bringing in letters and
would carry the answers back. The Governor would then arrest the traveler,
seize his papers, jail him, and drive him out. This became an established
custom with the authorities and went on for a long time—indeed, for nine
years until, little by little, the practice was abandoned.

It was at such a period that the Afnán, Ḥájí Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí—that
great bough of the Holy Tree(10)—journeyed to Akká, coming from India to
Egypt, and from Egypt to Marseilles. One day I was up on the roof of the
caravanserai. Some of the friends were with me and I was walking up and
down. It was sunset. At that moment, glancing at the distant seashore, I
observed that a carriage was approaching. “Gentlemen,” I said, “I feel
that a holy being is in that carriage.” It was still far away, hardly
within sight.

“Let us go to the gate,” I told them. “Although they will not allow us to
pass through, we can stand there till he comes.” I took one or two people
with me and we left.

At the city gate I called to the guard, privately gave him something and
said: “A carriage is coming in and I think it is bringing one of our
friends. When it reaches here, do not hold it up, and do not refer the
matter to the Governor.” He put out a chair for me and I sat down.

By this time the sun had set. They had shut the main gate, too, but the
little door was open. The gatekeeper stayed outside, the carriage drew up,
the gentleman had arrived. What a radiant face he had! He was nothing but
light from head to foot. Just to look at that face made one happy; he was
so confident, so assured, so rooted in his faith, and his expression so
joyous. He was truly a blessed being. He was a man who made progress day
by day, who added, every day, to his certitude and faith, his luminous
quality, his ardent love. He made extraordinary progress during the few
days that he spent in the Most Great Prison. The point is that when his
carriage had come only part of the way from Haifa to Akká, one could
already perceive his spirit, his light.

After he had received the endless bounties showered on him by Bahá’u’lláh,
he was given leave to go, and he traveled to China. There, over a
considerable period, he spent his days mindful of God and in a manner
conformable to Divine good pleasure. Later he went on to India, where he
died.

The other revered Afnán and the friends in India felt it advisable to send
his blessed remains to ‘Iráq, ostensibly to Najaf, to be buried near the
Holy City; for the Muslims had refused to let him lie in their graveyard,
and his body had been lodged in a temporary repository for safekeeping.
Áqá Siyyid Asadu’lláh, who was in Bombay at the time, was deputized to
transport the remains with all due reverence to ‘Iráq. There were hostile
Persians on the steamship and these people, once they reached Bú_sh_ihr,
reported that the coffin of Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí the Bábí was being carried
to Najaf for burial in the Vale of Peace, near the sacred precincts of the
Shrine, and that such a thing was intolerable. They tried to take his
blessed remains off the ship, but they failed; see what the hidden Divine
decrees can bring about.

His body came as far as Baṣrá. And since that was a period when the
friends had to remain in concealment, Siyyid Asadu’lláh was obliged to
proceed as if he were going on with the burial in Najaf, meanwhile hoping
in one way or another to effect the interment near Ba_gh_dád. Because,
although Najaf is a holy city and always shall be, still the friends had
chosen another place. God, therefore, stirred up our enemies to prevent
the Najaf burial. They swarmed in, attacking the quarantine station to lay
hold of the body and either bury it in Baṣrá or throw it into the sea or
out on the desert sands.

The case took on such importance that in the end it proved impossible to
bring the remains to Najaf, and Siyyid Asadu’lláh had to carry them on to
Ba_gh_dád. Here, too, there was no burial place where the Afnán’s body
would be safe from molestation at enemy hands. Finally the Siyyid decided
to carry it to the shrine of Persia’s Salmán the Pure,(11) about five
farsa_kh_s out of Ba_gh_dád, and bury it in Ctesiphon, close to the grave
of Salmán, beside the palace of the Sásáníyán kings. The body was taken
there and that trust of God was, with all reverence, laid down in a safe
resting-place by the palace of Naw_sh_íraván.

And this was destiny, that after a lapse of thirteen hundred years, from
the time when the throne city of Persia’s ancient kings was trampled down,
and no trace of it was left, except for rubble and hills of sand, and the
very palace roof itself had cracked and split so that half of it toppled
to the ground—this edifice should win back the kingly pomp and splendor of
its former days. It is indeed a mighty arch. The width of its entry-way is
fifty-two paces and it towers very high.

Thus did God’s grace and favor encompass the Persians of an age long gone,
in order that their ruined capital should be rebuilt and flourish once
again. To this end, with the help of God, events were brought about which
led to the Afnán’s being buried here; and there is no doubt that a proud
city will rise up on this site. I wrote many letters about it, until at
last the holy dust could be laid to rest in this place. Siyyid Asadu’lláh
would write me from Baṣrá and I would answer him. One of the public
functionaries there was completely devoted to us, and I directed him to do
all he could. Siyyid Asadu’lláh informed me from Ba_gh_dád that he was at
his wits’ end, and had no idea where he could consign this body to the
grave. “Wherever I might bury it,” he wrote, “they will dig it up again.”

At last, praised be God, it was laid down in the very spot to which time
and again the Blessed Beauty had repaired; in that place honored by His
footsteps, where He had revealed Tablets, where the believers of Ba_gh_dád
had been in His company; that very place where the Most Great Name was
wont to stroll. How did this come about? It was due to the Afnán’s purity
of heart. Lacking this, all those ways and means could never have been
brought to bear. Verily, God is the Mover of heaven and earth.

I loved the Afnán very much. Because of him, I rejoiced. I wrote a long
Visitation Tablet for him and sent it with other papers to Persia. His
burial site is one of the holy places where a magnificent
Ma_sh_riqu’l-A_dh_kár must be raised up. If possible, the actual arch of
the royal palace should be restored and become the House of Worship. The
auxiliary buildings of the House of Worship should likewise be erected
there: the hospital, the schools and university, the elementary school,
the refuge for the poor and indigent; also the haven for orphans and the
helpless, and the travelers’ hospice.

Gracious God! That royal edifice was once splendidly decked forth and
fair. But there are spiders’ webs today, where hung the curtains of gold
brocade, and where the king’s drums beat and his musicians played, the
only sound is the harsh cries of kites and crows. “This is verily the
capital of the owl’s realm, where thou wilt hear no sound, save only the
echo of his repeated calls.” That is how the barracks were, when we came
to Akká. There were a few trees inside the walls, and on their branches,
as well as up on the battlements, the owls cried all night long. How
disquieting is the hoot of an owl; how it saddens the heart.

From earliest youth until he grew helpless and old, that sacred bough of
the Holy Tree, with his smiling face, shone out like a lamp in the midst
of all. Then he leapt and soared to undying glory, and plunged into the
ocean of light. Upon him be the breathings of his Lord, the All-Merciful.
Upon him, lapped in the waters of grace and forgiveness, be the mercy and
favor of God.



ḤÁJÍ MÍRZÁ ḤASAN, THE AFNÁN


Among the most eminent of those who left their homeland to join
Bahá’u’lláh was Mírzá Ḥasan, the great Afnán, who during the latter days
won the honor of emigrating and of receiving the favor and companionship
of his Lord. The Afnán, related to the Báb, was specifically named by the
Supreme Pen as an offshoot of the Holy Tree. When still a small child, he
received his portion of bounty from the Báb, and showed forth an
extraordinary attachment to that dazzling Beauty. Not yet adolescent, he
frequented the society of the learned, and began to study sciences and
arts. He reflected day and night on the most abstruse of spiritual
questions, and gazed in wonderment at the mighty signs of God as written
in the Book of Life. He became thoroughly versed even in such material
sciences as mathematics, geometry, and geography; in brief, he was well
grounded in many fields, thoroughly conversant with the thought of ancient
and modern times.

A merchant by profession, he spent only a short period of the day and
evening at his business, devoting most of his time to discussion and
research. He was truly erudite, a great credit to the Cause of God amongst
leading men of learning. With a few concise phrases, he could solve
perplexing questions. His speech was laconic, but in itself a kind of
miracle.

Although he first became a believer in the days of the Báb, it was during
the days of Bahá’u’lláh that he caught fire. Then his love of God burned
away every obstructing veil and idle thought. He did all he could to
spread the Faith of God, becoming known far and wide for his ardent love
of Bahá’u’lláh.

I am lost, O Love, possessed and dazed,
Love’s fool am I, in all the earth.
They call me first among the crazed,
Though I once came first for wit and worth...

After the ascension of the Báb, he had the high honor of serving and
watching over the revered and saintly consort of the blessed Lord. He was
in Persia, mourning his separation from Bahá’u’lláh, when his
distinguished son became, by marriage, a member of the Holy Household. At
this, the Afnán rejoiced. He left Persia and hastened to the sheltering
favor of his Well-Beloved. He was a man amazing to behold, his face so
luminous that even those who were not believers used to say that a
heavenly light shone from his forehead.

He went away for a time and sojourned in Beirut, where he met the noted
scholar, _Kh_ájih Findík. This personage warmly praised the erudition of
the great Afnán in various circles, affirming that an individual of such
wide and diverse learning was rare throughout the East. Later on, the
Afnán returned to the Holy Land, settling near the Mansion of Bahjí and
directing all his thoughts toward aspects of human culture. Much of the
time he would occupy himself with uncovering the secrets of the heavens,
contemplating in their detail the movements of the stars. He had a
telescope with which he would make his observations every night. He lived
a happy life, carefree and light of heart. In the neighborhood of
Bahá’u’lláh his days were blissful, his nights bright as the first morning
in spring.

But then came the Beloved’s departure from this world. The Afnán’s peace
was shattered, his joy was changed to grief. The Supreme Affliction was
upon us, separation consumed us, the once bright days turned black as
night, and all those roses of other hours were dust and rubble now. He
lived on for a little while, his heart smoldering, his eyes shedding their
tears. But he could not bear the longing for his Well-Beloved, and in a
little while his soul gave up this life and fled to the eternal one;
passed into the Heaven of abiding reunion and was immersed beneath an
ocean of light. Upon him be most great mercy, plenteous bounty, and every
blessing, as the ages and cycles roll on. His honored tomb is in Akká at
the Man_sh_íyyih.



MUḤAMMAD-‘ALÍY-I-IṢFÁHÁNÍ


Muḥammad-‘Alí of Iṣfáhán was among the earliest of believers, guided to
the Faith from its very beginning. He was one of the mystics; his house
was a gathering place for them, and the philosophers. Noble, high-minded,
he was one of Iṣfáhán’s most respected citizens, and served as a host and
sanctuary for every stranger, rich or poor. He had verve, an excellent
disposition, was forbearing, affable, generous, a boon companion; and it
was known throughout the city that he enjoyed a good time.

Then he was led to embrace the Faith and caught fire from the Sinaitic
Tree. His house became a teaching center, dedicated to the glory of God.
Day and night the believers flocked there, as to a lamp lit by heavenly
love. Over a long period, the sacred verses were chanted in that house and
the clear proofs set forth. Although this was widely known, Muḥammad-‘Alí
was not molested, because he was a kinsman of the Imám-Jum’ih of Iṣfáhán.
Finally, however, things came to such a pass that the Imám-Jum’ih himself
sent him away, telling him: “I can protect you no longer. You are in grave
danger. The best thing for you is to leave here, and go on a journey.”

He left his home then, went to ‘Iráq, and entered the presence of the
world’s Desired One. He spent some time there, progressing every day; he
had little to live on, but was happy and content. A man of excellent
disposition, he was congenial to believers and others alike.

When Bahá’u’lláh and His retinue left Ba_gh_dád for Constantinople,
Muḥammad-‘Alí was in His company, and continued on with Him to the Land of
Mystery, Adrianople. Not one to be inconstant, he maintained his
characteristic immutability of heart. Whatever happened, he remained the
same. In Adrianople as well, his days passed happily, under the protection
of Bahá’u’lláh. He would carry on some business which, however trifling,
would bring in surprisingly abundant returns.

From Adrianople, Muḥammad-‘Alí accompanied Bahá’u’lláh to the fortress of
Akká, was put in jail there, and was numbered among Bahá’u’lláh’s fellow
captives for the rest of his life, achieving that greatest of all
distinctions, to be in prison with the Blessed Beauty.

He spent his days in utter bliss. Here, too, he carried on a small
business, which occupied him from morning till noon. In the afternoons he
would take his samovar, wrap it in a dark-colored pouch made from a
saddlebag, and go off somewhere to a garden or meadow, or out in a field,
and have his tea. Sometimes he would be found at the farm of Mazra’ih, or
again in the Ridván Garden; or, at the Mansion, he would have the honor of
attending upon Bahá’u’lláh.

Muḥammad-‘Alí would carefully consider every blessing that came his way.
“How delicious my tea is today,” he would comment. “What perfume, what
color! How lovely this meadow is, and the flowers so bright!” He used to
say that everything, even air and water, had its own special fragrance.
For him the days passed in indescribable delight. Even kings were not so
happy as this old man, the people said. “He is completely free of the
world,” they would declare. “He lives in joy.” It also happened that his
food was of the very best, and that his home was situated in the very best
part of Akká. Gracious God! Here he was, a prisoner, and yet experiencing
comfort, peace and joy.

Muḥammad-‘Alí was past eighty when he finally departed to eternal light.
He had been the recipient of many Tablets from Bahá’u’lláh, and of endless
bounty, under all conditions. Upon him be the glory of God the Most
Glorious. Upon him be myriads of heavenly blessings; may God favor him
with gladness forever and ever. His luminous grave is in Akká.



‘ABDU’S-ṢÁLIḤ, THE GARDENER


Among those who emigrated and were companions in the Most Great Prison was
Áqá ‘Abdu’s-Ṣáliḥ. This excellent soul, a child of early believers, came
from Iṣfáhán. His noble-hearted father died, and this child grew up an
orphan. There was none to rear or care for him and he was the prey of
anyone who chose to do him harm. At last he became adolescent, and older
now, sought out his Well-Beloved. He emigrated to the Most Great Prison
and here, at the Ridván, achieved the honor of being appointed gardener.
At this task he was second to none. In his faith, too, he was staunch,
loyal, worthy of trust; as to his character, he was an embodiment of the
sacred verse, “Of a noble nature art thou.”(12) That is how he won the
distinction of being gardener at the Ridván, and of thus receiving the
greatest bounty of all: almost daily, he entered the presence of
Bahá’u’lláh.

For the Most Great Name was held prisoner and confined nine years in the
fortress-town of Akká; and at all times, both in the barracks and
afterward, from without the house, the police and farrá_sh_es had Him
under constant guard. The Blessed Beauty lived in a very small house, and
He never set foot outside that narrow lodging, because His oppressors kept
continual watch at the door. When, however, nine years had elapsed, the
fixed and predetermined length of days was over; and at that time, against
the rancorous will of the tyrant, ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd, and all his minions,
Bahá’u’lláh proceeded out of the fortress with authority and might, and in
a kingly mansion beyond the city, made His home.

Although the policy of Sulṭán ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd was harsher than ever;
although he constantly insisted on his Captive’s strict confinement—still,
the Blessed Beauty now lived, as everyone knows, with all power and glory.
Some of the time Bahá’u’lláh would spend at the Mansion, and again, at the
farm village of Mazra’ih; for a while He would sojourn in Haifa, and
occasionally His tent would be pitched on the heights of Mount Carmel.
Friends from everywhere presented themselves and gained an audience. The
people and the government authorities witnessed it all, yet no one so much
as breathed a word. And this is one of Bahá’u’lláh’s greatest miracles:
that He, a captive, surrounded Himself with panoply and He wielded power.
The prison changed into a palace, the jail itself became a Garden of Eden.
Such a thing has not occurred in history before; no former age has seen
its like: that a man confined to a prison should move about with authority
and might; that one in chains should carry the fame of the Cause of God to
the high heavens, should win splendid victories in both East and West, and
should, by His almighty pen, subdue the world. Such is the distinguishing
feature of this supreme Theophany.

One day the government leaders, pillars of the country, the city’s
‘ulamás, leading mystics and intellectuals came out to the Mansion. The
Blessed Beauty paid them no attention whatever. They were not admitted to
His presence, nor did He inquire after any of them. I sat down with them
and kept them company for some hours, after which they returned whence
they had come. Although the royal farmán specifically decreed that
Bahá’u’lláh was to be held in solitary confinement within the Akká
fortress, in a cell, under perpetual guard; that He was never to set foot
outside; that He was never even to see any of the
believers—notwithstanding such a farmán, such a drastic order, His tent
was raised in majesty on the heights of Mount Carmel. What greater display
of power could there be than this, that from the very prison, the banner
of the Lord was raised aloft, and rippled out for all the world to see!
Praised be the Possessor of such majesty and might; praised be He,
weaponed with the power and the glory; praised be He, Who defeated His
foes when He lay captive in the Akká prison!

To resume: ‘Abdu’s-Ṣáliḥ lived under a fortunate star, for he regularly
came into the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. He enjoyed the distinction of
serving as gardener for many years, and he was at all times loyal, true,
and strong in faith. He was humble in the presence of every one of the
believers; in all that time he never hurt nor offended any one. And at the
last he left his garden and hastened to the encompassing mercy of God.

The Ancient Beauty was well pleased with ‘Abdu’s-Ṣáliḥ, and after his
ascension revealed a Visitation Tablet in his honor, also delivering an
address concerning him, which was taken down and published together with
other Scriptures.

Upon him be the glory of the All-Glorious! Upon him be God’s gentleness
and favor in the Exalted Realm.



USTÁD ISMÁ’ÍL


Yet another from amongst that blessed company was Ustád Ismá’íl, the
builder. He was the construction overseer of Farru_kh_ _Kh_án
(Amínu’d-Dawlih) in Ṭihrán, living happily and prosperously, a man of high
standing, well regarded by all. But he lost his heart to the Faith, and
was enraptured by it, till his holy passion consumed every intervening
veil. Then he cast caution aside, and became known throughout Ṭihrán as a
pillar of the Bahá’ís.

Farru_kh_ _Kh_án ably defended him at first. But as time went on, he
summoned him and said, “Ustád, you are very dear to me and I have given
you my protection and have stood by you as best I could. But the _Sh_áh
has found out about you and you know what a bloodthirsty tyrant he is. I
am afraid that he will seize you without warning, and he will hang you.
The best thing for you is to go on a journey. Leave this country, go
somewhere else, and escape from this peril.”

Composed, happy, Ustád gave up his work, closed his eyes to his
possessions, and left for ‘Iráq, where he lived in poverty. He had
recently taken a bride, and loved her beyond measure. Her mother arrived,
and by subterfuge, obtained his permission to conduct the daughter back to
Ṭihrán, supposedly for a visit. As soon as she reached Kirman_sh_áh, she
went to the mujtahid, and told him that because her son-in-law had
abandoned his religion, her daughter could not remain his lawful wife. The
mujtahid arranged a divorce, and wedded the girl to another man. When word
of this reached Ba_gh_dád, Ismá’íl, steadfast as ever, only laughed. “God
be praised!” he said. “Nothing is left me on this pathway. I have lost
everything, including my bride. I have been able to give Him all I
possessed.”

When Bahá’u’lláh departed from Ba_gh_dád, and traveled to Rumelia, the
friends remained behind. The inhabitants of Ba_gh_dád then rose up against
those helpless believers, sending them away as captives to Mosul. Ustád
was old and feeble, but he left on foot, with no provisions for his
journey, crossed over mountains and deserts, valleys and hills, and in the
end arrived at the Most Great Prison. At one time, Bahá’u’lláh had written
down an ode of Rúmí’s for him, and had told him to turn his face toward
the Báb and sing the words, set to a melody. And so as he wandered through
the long dark nights, Ustád would sing these lines:

I am lost, O Love, possessed and dazed,
Love’s fool am I, in all the earth.
They call me first among the crazed,
Though I once came first for wit and worth.

O Love, who sellest me this wine,(13)
O Love, for whom I burn and bleed,
Love, for whom I cry and pine—
Thou the Piper, I the reed.

If Thou wishest me to live,
Through me blow Thy holy breath.
The touch of Jesus Thou wilt give
To me, who’ve lain an age in death.

Thou, both End and Origin,
Thou without and Thou within—
From every eye Thou hidest well,
And yet in every eye dost dwell.

He was like a bird with broken wings but he had the song and it kept him
going onward to his one true Love. By stealth, he approached the Fortress
and went in, but he was exhausted, spent. He remained for some days, and
came into the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, after which he was directed to look
for a lodging in Haifa. He got himself to Haifa, but he found no haven
there, no nest or hole, no water, no grain of corn. Finally he made his
home in a cave outside the town. He acquired a little tray and on this he
set out rings of earthenware, and some thimbles, pins and other trinkets.
Every day, from morning till noon, he peddled these, wandering about. Some
days his earnings would amount to twenty paras,(14) some days thirty; and
forty on his best days. Then he would go home to the cave and content
himself with a piece of bread. He was always voicing his thanks, always
saying, “Praise be to God that I have attained such favor and grace; that
I have been separated from friend and stranger alike, and have taken
refuge in this cave. Now I am of those who gave their all, to buy the
Divine Joseph in the market place. What bounty could be any greater than
this!”

Such was his condition, when he died. Many and many a time, Bahá’u’lláh
was heard to express His satisfaction with Ustád Ismá’íl. Blessings hemmed
him round, and the eye of God was on him. Salutations be unto him, and
praise. Upon him be the glory of the All-Glorious.



NABÍL-I-ZARANDÍ


Still another of those who emigrated from their native land to be near
Bahá’u’lláh was the great Nabíl.(15) In the flower of youth he bade
farewell to his family in Zarand and with Divine aid began to teach the
Faith. He became a chief of the army of lovers, and on his quest he left
Persian ‘Iráq for Mesopotamia, but could not find the One he sought. For
the Well-Beloved was then in Kurdistán, living in a cave at Sar-Galú; and
there, entirely alone in that wasteland, with no companion, no friend, no
listening soul, He was communing with the beauty that dwelt in His own
heart. All news of Him was completely cut off; ‘Iráq was eclipsed, and in
mourning.

When Nabíl discovered that the flame which had once been kindled and
tended there was almost out, that the believers were few, that Yaḥyá(16)
had crawled into a secret hole where he lay torpid and inert, and that a
wintry cold had taken over—he found himself obliged to leave, bitterly
grieving, for Karbilá. There he stayed until the Blessed Beauty returned
from Kurdistán, making His way to Ba_gh_dád. At that time there was
boundless joy; every believer in the country sprang to life; among them
was Nabíl, who hastened to the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, and became the
recipient of great bestowals. He spent his days in gladness now, writing
odes to celebrate the praises of his Lord. He was a gifted poet, and his
tongue most eloquent; a man of mettle, and on fire with passionate love.

After a time he returned to Karbilá, then came back to Ba_gh_dád and from
there went on to Persia. Because he associated with Siyyid Muḥammad he was
led into error and sorely afflicted and tried; but like the shooting
stars, he became as a missile to drive off satanic imaginings,(17) and he
repulsed the evil whisperers and went back to Ba_gh_dád, where he found
rest in the shade of the Holy Tree. He was later directed to visit
Kirman_sh_áh. He returned again, and on every journey was enabled to
render a service.

Bahá’u’lláh and His retinue then left Ba_gh_dád, the “Abode of Peace,” for
Constantinople, the “City of Islám.” After His departure, Nabíl put on the
dress of a dervish, and set out on foot, catching up with the convoy along
the way. In Constantinople he was directed to return to Persia and there
teach the Cause of God; also to travel throughout the country, and
acquaint the believers in its cities and villages with all that had taken
place. When this mission was accomplished, and the drums of “Am I not your
Lord?” were rolling out—for it was the “year eighty”(18)— Nabíl hurried to
Adrianople, crying as he went, “Yea verily Thou art! Yea verily!” and
“Lord, Lord, here am I!”

He entered Bahá’u’lláh’s presence and drank of the red wine of allegiance
and homage. He was then given specific orders to travel everywhere, and in
every region to raise the call that God was now made manifest: to spread
the blissful tidings that the Sun of Truth had risen. He was truly on
fire, driven by restive love. With great fervor he would pass through a
country, bringing this best of all messages and reviving the hearts. He
flamed like a torch in every company, he was the star of every assemblage,
to all who came he held out the intoxicating cup. He journeyed as to the
beat of drums and at last he reached the Akká fortress.

In those days the restrictions were exceptionally severe. The gates were
shut, the roads closed off. Wearing a disguise, Nabíl arrived at the Akká
gate. Siyyid Muḥammad and his wretched accomplice immediately hurried to
the Governorate and informed against the traveler. “He is a Persian,” they
reported. “He is not, as he seems, a man of Bu_kh_árá. He has come here to
seek for news of Bahá’u’lláh.” The authorities expelled him at once.

Nabíl, despairing, withdrew to the town of Safád. Later he came on to
Haifa, where he made his home in a cave on Mount Carmel. He lived apart
from friend and stranger alike, lamenting night and day, moaning and
chanting prayers. There he remained as a recluse, and waited for the doors
to open. When the predestined time of captivity was over, and the gates
were flung wide, and the Wronged One issued forth in beauty, in majesty
and glory, Nabíl hastened to Him with a joyful heart. Then he used himself
up like a candle, burning away with the love of God. Day and night he sang
the praises of the one Beloved of both worlds and of those about His
threshold, writing verses in the pentameter and hexameter forms, composing
lyrics and long odes. Almost daily, he was admitted to the presence of the
Manifestation.(19)

This went on until the day Bahá’u’lláh ascended. At that supreme
affliction, that shattering calamity, Nabíl sobbed and trembled and cried
out to Heaven. He found that the numerical value of the word
“_sh_idád”—year of stress—was 309, and it thus became evident that
Bahá’u’lláh foretold what had now come to pass.(20)

Utterly cast down, hopeless at being separated from Bahá’u’lláh, fevered,
shedding tears, Nabíl was in such anguish that anyone seeing him was
bewildered. He struggled on, but the only desire he had was to lay down
his life. He could suffer no longer; his longing was aflame in him; he
could stand the fiery pain no more. And so he became king of the cohorts
of love, and he rushed into the sea.

Before that day when he offered himself up, he wrote out the year of his
death in the one word: “Drowned.”(21) Then he threw down his life for the
Well-Beloved, and was released from his despair, and no longer shut away.

This distinguished man was erudite, wise, and eloquent of speech. His
native genius was pure inspiration, his poetic gift like a crystal stream.
In particular his ode “Bahá, Bahá!” was written in sheer ecstasy.
Throughout all his life, from earliest youth till he was feeble and old,
he spent his time serving and worshiping the Lord. He bore hardships, he
lived through misfortunes, he suffered afflictions. From the lips of the
Manifestation he heard marvelous things. He was shown the lights of
Paradise; he won his dearest wish. And at the end, when the Daystar of the
world had set, he could endure no more, and flung himself into the sea.
The waters of sacrifice closed over him; he was drowned, and he came, at
last, to the Most High.

Upon him be abundant blessings; upon him be tender mercies. May he win a
great victory, and a manifest grace in the Kingdom of God.



DARVÍSH ṢIDQ-‘ALÍ


Áqá Ṣidq-‘Alí was yet one more of those who left their native land,
journeyed to Bahá’u’lláh and were put in the Prison. He was a dervish; a
man who lived free and detached from friend and stranger alike. He
belonged to the mystic element and was a man of letters. He spent some
time wearing the dress of poverty, drinking the wine of the Rule and
traveling the Path,(22) but unlike the other Súfís he did not devote his
life to dusty ha_sh_í_sh_; on the contrary, he cleansed himself of their
vain imaginings and only searched for God, spoke of God, and followed the
path of God.

He had a fine poetic gift and wrote odes to sing the praises of Him Whom
the world has wronged and rejected. Among them is a poem written while he
was a prisoner in the barracks at Akká, the chief couplet of which reads:

A hundred hearts Thy curling locks ensnare,
And it rains hearts when Thou dost toss Thy hair.

That free and independent soul discovered, in Ba_gh_dád, a trace of the
untraceable Beloved. He witnessed the dawning of the Daystar above the
horizon of ‘Iráq, and received the bounty of that sunrise. He came under
the spell of Bahá’u’lláh, and was enraptured by that tender Companion.
Although he was a quiet man, one who held his peace, his very limbs were
like so many tongues crying out their message. When the retinue of
Bahá’u’lláh was about to leave Ba_gh_dád he implored permission to go
along as a groom. All day, he walked beside the convoy, and when night
came he would attend to the horses. He worked with all his heart. Only
after midnight would he seek his bed and lie down to rest; the bed,
however, was his mantle, and the pillow a sun-dried brick.

As he journeyed, filled with yearning love, he would sing poems. He
greatly pleased the friends. In him the name(23) bespoke the man: he was
pure candor and truth; he was love itself; he was chaste of heart, and
enamored of Bahá’u’lláh. In his high station, that of groom, he reigned
like a king; indeed he gloried over the sovereigns of the earth. He was
assiduous in attendance upon Bahá’u’lláh; in all things, upright and true.

The convoy of the lovers went on; it reached Constantinople; it passed to
Adrianople, and finally to the Akká prison. Ṣidq-‘Alí was present
throughout, faithfully serving its Commander.

While in the barracks, Bahá’u’lláh set apart a special night and He
dedicated it to Darví_sh_ Ṣidq-‘Alí. He wrote that every year on that
night the dervishes should bedeck a meeting place, which should be in a
flower garden, and gather there to make mention of God. He went on to say
that “dervish” does not denote those persons who wander about, spending
their nights and days in fighting and folly; rather, He said, the term
designates those who are completely severed from all but God, who cleave
to His laws, are firm in His Faith, loyal to His Covenant, and constant in
worship. It is not a name for those who, as the Persians say, tramp about
like vagrants, are confused, unsettled in mind, a burden to others, and of
all mankind the most coarse and rude.

This eminent dervish spent his whole life-span under the sheltering favor
of God. He was completely detached from worldly things. He was attentive
in service, and waited upon the believers with all his heart. He was a
servant to all of them, and faithful at the Holy Threshold.

Then came that hour when, not far from his Lord, he stripped off the cloak
of life, and to physical eyes passed into the shadows, but to the mind’s
eye betook himself to what is plain as day; and he was seated there on a
throne of lasting glory. He escaped from the prison of this world, and
pitched his tent in a wide and spacious land. May God ever keep him close
and bless him in that mystic realm with perpetual reunion and the beatific
vision; may he be wrapped in tiers of light. Upon him be the glory of God,
the All-Glorious. His grave is in Akká.



ÁQÁ MÍRZÁ MAḤMÚD AND ÁQÁ RIḌÁ


These two blessed souls, Mírzá Maḥmúd of Ká_sh_án and Áqá Riḍá of
_Sh_íráz, were like two lamps lit with God’s love from the oil of His
knowledge. Encompassed by Divine bestowals from childhood on, they
succeeded in rendering every kind of service for fifty-five years. Their
services were countless, beyond recording.

When the retinue of Bahá’u’lláh left Ba_gh_dád for Constantinople, He was
accompanied by a great crowd of people. Along the way, they met with
famine conditions. These two souls strode along on foot, ahead of the
howdah in which Bahá’u’lláh was riding, and covered a distance of seven or
eight farsa_kh_s every day. Wayworn and faint, they would reach the
halting-place; and yet, weary as they were, they would immediately set
about preparing and cooking the food, and seeing to the comfort of the
believers. The efforts they made were truly more than flesh can bear.
There were times when they had not more than two or three hours sleep out
of the twenty-four; because, once the friends had eaten their meal, these
two would be busy collecting and washing up the dishes and cooking
utensils; this would take them till midnight, and only then would they
rest. At daybreak they would rise, pack everything, and set out again, in
front of the howdah of Bahá’u’lláh. See what a vital service they were
able to render, and for what bounty they were singled out: from the start
of the journey, at Ba_gh_dád, to the arrival in Constantinople, they
walked close beside Bahá’u’lláh; they made every one of the friends happy;
they brought rest and comfort to all; they prepared whatever anyone asked.

Áqá Riḍá and Mírzá Maḥmúd were the very essence of God’s love, utterly
detached from all but God. In all that time no one ever heard either of
them raise his voice. They never hurt nor offended anyone. They were
trustworthy, loyal, true. Bahá’u’lláh showered blessings upon them. They
were continually entering His presence and He would be expressing His
satisfaction with them.

Mírzá Maḥmúd was a youth when he arrived in Ba_gh_dád from Ká_sh_án. Áqá
Riḍá became a believer in Ba_gh_dád. The spiritual condition of the two
was indescribable. There was in Ba_gh_dád a company of seven leading
believers who lived in a single, small room, because they were destitute.
They could hardly keep body and soul together, but they were so spiritual,
so blissful, that they thought themselves in Heaven. Sometimes they would
chant prayers all night long, until the day broke. Days, they would go out
to work, and by nightfall one would have earned ten paras, another perhaps
twenty paras, others forty or fifty. These sums would be spent for the
evening meal. On a certain day one of them made twenty paras, while the
rest had nothing at all. The one with the money bought some dates, and
shared them with the others; that was dinner, for seven people. They were
perfectly content with their frugal life, supremely happy.

These two honored men devoted their days to all that is best in human
life: they had seeing eyes; they were mindful and aware; they had hearing
ears, and were fair of speech. Their sole desire was to please
Bahá’u’lláh. To them, nothing was a bounty at all, except service at His
Holy Threshold. After the time of the Supreme Affliction, they were
consumed with sorrow, like candles flickering away; they longed for death,
and stayed firm in the Covenant and labored hard and well to spread that
Daystar’s Faith. They were close and trusted companions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá,
and could be relied on in all things. They were always lowly, humble,
unassuming, evanescent. In all that long period, they never uttered a word
which had to do with self.

And at the last, during the absence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, they took their
flight to the Kingdom of unfading glory. I sorrowed much because I was not
with them when they died. Although absent in body, I was there in my
heart, and mourning over them; but to outward seeming I did not bid them
good-by; this is why I grieve.

Unto them both be salutations and praise; upon them be compassion and
glory. May God give them a home in Paradise, under the Lote-Tree’s shade.
May they be immersed in tiers of light, close beside their Lord, the
Mighty, the All-Powerful.



PIDAR-JÁN OF QAZVÍN


The late Pidar-Ján was among those believers who emigrated to Ba_gh_dád.
He was a godly old man, enamored of the Well-Beloved; in the garden of
Divine love, he was like a rose full-blown. He arrived there, in
Ba_gh_dád, and spent his days and nights communing with God and chanting
prayers; and although he walked the earth, he traveled the heights of
Heaven.

To obey the law of God, he took up a trade, for he had nothing. He would
bundle a few pairs of socks under his arm and peddle them as he wandered
through the streets and bázárs, and thieves would rob him of his
merchandise. Finally he was obliged to lay the socks across his
outstretched palms as he went along. But he would get to chanting a
prayer, and one day he was surprised to find that they had stolen the
socks, laid out on his two hands, from before his eyes. His awareness of
this world was clouded, for he journeyed through another. He dwelt in
ecstasy; he was a man drunken, bedazzled.

For some time, that is how he lived in ‘Iráq. Almost daily he was admitted
to the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. His name was ‘Abdu’lláh but the friends
bestowed on him the title of Pidar-Ján—Father Dear—for he was a loving
father to them all. At last, under the sheltering care of Bahá’u’lláh, he
took flight to the “seat of truth, in the presence of the potent
king.”(24)

May God make fragrant his sepulcher with the outpouring rains of His mercy
and cast upon him the eye of Divine compassion. Salutations be unto him,
and praise.



SHAYKH ṢÁDIQ-I-YAZDÍ


Another of those who emigrated to Ba_gh_dád was _Sh_ay_kh_ Ṣádiq of Yazd,
a man esteemed, and righteous as his name, Ṣádiq.(25) He was a towering
palm in the groves of Heaven, a star flaming in the skies of the love of
God.

It was during the ‘Iráq period that he hastened to the presence of
Bahá’u’lláh. His detachment from the things of this world and his
attachment to the life of the spirit are indescribable. He was love
embodied, tenderness personified. Day and night, he commemorated God.
Utterly unconscious of this world and all that is therein, he dwelt
continually on God, remaining submerged in supplications and prayers. Most
of the time, tears poured from his eyes. The Blessed Beauty singled him
out for special favor, and whenever He turned His attention toward Ṣádiq,
His loving-kindness was clear to see.

On a certain day they brought word that Ṣádiq was at the point of death. I
went to his bedside and found him breathing his last. He was suffering
from ileus, an abdominal pain and swelling. I hurried to Bahá’u’lláh and
described his condition. “Go,” He said. “Place your hand on the distended
area and speak the words: ‘O Thou the Healer!’”(26)

I went back. I saw that the affected part had swollen up to the size of an
apple; it was hard as stone, in constant motion, twisting, and coiling
about itself like a snake. I placed my hand upon it; I turned toward God
and, humbly beseeching Him, I repeated the words, “O Thou the Healer!”
Instantly the sick man rose up. The ileus vanished; the swelling was
carried off.

This personified spirit lived contentedly in ‘Iráq until the day when
Bahá’u’lláh’s convoy wended its way out of Ba_gh_dád. As bidden, Ṣádiq
remained behind in that city. But his longing beat so passionately within
him that after the arrival of Bahá’u’lláh at Mosul, he could endure the
separation no more. Shoeless, hatless, he ran out alongside the courier
going to Mosul; ran and ran until, on that barren plain, with mercy all
about him, he fell to his rest.

May God give him to drink from “a wine cup tempered at the camphor
fountain,”(27) and send down crystal waters on his grave; may God perfume
his dust in that desert place with musk, and cause to descend there range
on range of light.



SHÁH-MUḤAMMAD-AMÍN


_Sh_áh-Muḥammad, who had the title of Amín, the Trusted One, was among the
earliest of believers, and most deeply enamored. He had listened to the
Divine summons in the flower of his youth, and set his face toward the
Kingdom. He had ripped from his gaze the veils of idle suppositions and
had won his heart’s desire; neither the fancies current among the people
nor the reproaches of which he was the target turned him back. Unshaken,
he stood and faced a sea of troubles; staunch with the strength of the
Advent day, he confronted those who tried to thwart him and block his
path. The more they sought to instill doubts in his mind, the stronger he
became; the more they tormented him, the more progress he made. He was a
captive of the face of God, enslaved by the beauty of the All-Glorious; a
flame of God’s love, a jetting fountain of the knowledge of Him.

Love smoldered in his heart, so that he had no peace; and when he could
bear the absence of the Beloved One no more, he left his native home, the
province of Yazd. He found the desert sands like silk under his feet;
light as the wind’s breath, he passed over the mountains and across the
endless plains, until he stood at the door of his Love. He had freed
himself from the snare of separation, and in ‘Iráq, he entered the
presence of Bahá’u’lláh.

Once he made his way into the home of the Darling of mankind, he was
emptied of every thought, released from every concern, and became the
recipient of boundless favor and grace. He passed some days in ‘Iráq and
was directed to return to Persia. There he remained for a time,
frequenting the believers; and his pure breathings stirred each one of
them anew, so that each one yearned over the Faith, and became more
restless, more impatient than before.

Later he arrived at the Most Great Prison with Mírzá Abu’l-Ḥasan, the
second Amín. On this journey he met with severe hardships, for it was
extremely difficult to find a way into the prison. Finally he was received
by Bahá’u’lláh in the public baths. Mírzá Abu’l-Ḥasan was so overwhelmed
at the majestic presence of his Lord that he shook, stumbled, and fell to
the floor; his head was injured and the blood flowed out.

Amín, that is _Sh_áh-Muḥammad, was honored with the title of the Trusted
One, and bounties were showered upon him. Full of eagerness and love,
taking with him Tablets from Bahá’u’lláh, he hastened back to Persia,
where, at all times worthy of trust, he labored for the Cause. His
services were outstanding, and he was a consolation to the believers’
hearts. There was none to compare with him for energy, enthusiasm and
zeal, and no man’s services could equal his. He was a haven amidst the
people, known everywhere for devotion to the Holy Threshold, widely
acclaimed by the friends.

He never rested for a moment. Not one night did he spend on a bed of ease,
never did he lay down his head on comfort’s pillow. He was continuously in
flight, soaring as the birds do, running like a deer, guesting in the
desert of oneness, alone and swift. He brought joy to all the believers;
to all, his coming was good news; to every seeker, he was a sign and
token. He was enamored of God, a vagrant in the desert of God’s love. Like
the wind, he traveled over the face of the plains, and he was restive on
the heights of the hills. He was in a different country every day, and in
yet another land by nightfall. Never did he rest, never was he still. He
was forever rising up to serve.

But then they took him prisoner in Á_dh_irbayján, in the town of
Míyándu’áb. He fell a prey to some ruthless Kurds, a hostile band who
asked no questions of the innocent, defenseless man. Believing that this
stranger, like other foreigners, wished ill to the Kurdish people, and
taking him for worthless, they killed him.

When news of his martyrdom reached the Prison, all the captives grieved,
and they shed tears for him, resigned to God and undefended as he was in
his last hour. Even on the countenance of Bahá’u’lláh, there were visible
tokens of grief. A Tablet, infinitely tender, was revealed by the Supreme
Pen, commemorating the man who died on that calamitous plain, and many
other Tablets were sent down concerning him.

Today, under the shadowing mercy of God, he dwells in the bright Heavens.
He communes with the birds of holiness, and in the assemblage of splendors
he is immersed in light. The memory and praise of him shall remain, till
the end of time, in the pages of books and on the tongues and lips of men.

Unto him be salutations and praise; upon him be the glory of the
All-Glorious; upon him be the most great mercy of God.



MASHHADÍ FAṬṬAḤ


Ma_sh_hadí Faṭṭaḥ was personified spirit. He was devotion itself. Brother
to Ḥájí ‘Alí-‘Askar—of the same pure lineage—through the latter he came
into the Faith. Like the twins, Castor and Pollux, the two kept together
in one spot, and both were illumined with the light of belief.

In all things, the two were united as a pair; they shared the same
certitude and faith, the same conscience, and made their way out of
Á_dh_irbayján to Adrianople, emigrating at the same time. In every
circumstance of their life, they lived as one individual; their
disposition, their aims, their religion, character, behavior, faith,
certitude, knowledge—all were one. Even in the Most Great Prison, they
were constantly together.

Ma_sh_hadí Faṭṭaḥ possessed some merchandise; this was all he owned in the
world. He had entrusted it to persons in Adrianople, and later on those
unrighteous people did away with the goods. Thus, in the pathway of God,
he lost whatever he possessed. He passed his days, perfectly content, in
the Most Great Prison. He was utter selflessness; from him, no one ever
heard a syllable to indicate that he existed. He was always in a certain
corner of the prison, silently meditating, occupied with the remembrance
of God; at all times spiritually alert and mindful, in a state of
supplication.

Then came the Supreme Affliction. He could not tolerate the anguish of
parting with Bahá’u’lláh, and after Bahá’u’lláh’s passing, he died of
grief. Blessed is he; again, blessed is he. Glad tidings to him; again,
glad tidings to him. Upon him be the glory of the All-Glorious.



NABÍL OF QÁ’IN


This distinguished man, Mullá Muḥammad-‘Alí,(28) was one of those whose
hearts were drawn to Bahá’u’lláh before the Declaration of the Báb; it was
then that he drank the red wine of knowledge from the hands of the
Cupbearer of grace. It happened that a prince, who was the son of Mír
Asadu’lláh _Kh_án, prince of Qá’in, was commanded to remain as a political
hostage in Ṭihrán. He was young, far away from his loving father, and
Mullá Muḥammad-‘Alí was his tutor and guardian. Since the youth was a
stranger in Ṭihrán, the Blessed Beauty showed him special kindness. Many a
night the young prince was Bahá’u’lláh’s guest at the mansion, and Mullá
Muḥammad-‘Alí would accompany him. This was prior to the Declaration of
the Báb.

It was then that this chief of all trusted friends was captivated by
Bahá’u’lláh, and wherever he went, spread loving praise of Him. After the
way of Islám, he also related the great miracles which he had, with his
own eyes, seen Bahá’u’lláh perform, and the marvels he had heard. He was
in ecstasy, burning up with love. In that condition, he returned to Qá’in
with the prince.

Later on that eminent scholar, Áqá Muḥammad of Qá’in (whose title was
Nabíl-i-Akbar) was made a mujtahid, a doctor of religious law, by the late
_Sh_ay_kh_ Murtadá; he left, then, for Ba_gh_dád, became an ardent
follower of Bahá’u’lláh, and hastened back to Persia. The leading divines
and mujtahids were well aware of and acknowledged his vast scholarly
accomplishments, the breadth of his learning, and his high rank. When he
reached Qá’in, he began openly to spread the new Faith. The moment Mullá
Muḥammad-‘Alí heard the name of the Blessed Beauty, he immediately
accepted the Báb. “I had the honor,” he said, “of meeting the Blessed
Beauty in Ṭihrán. The instant I saw Him, I became His slave.”

In his village of Sar-_Ch_áh, this gifted, high-minded man began to teach
the Faith. He guided in his own family and saw to the others as well,
bringing a great multitude under the law of the love of God, leading each
one to the path of salvation.

Up to that time he had always been a close companion of Mír Álam _Kh_án,
the Governor of Qá’in, had rendered him important services, and had
enjoyed the Governor’s respect and trust. Now that shameless prince turned
against him in a rage on account of his religion, seized his property and
plundered it; for the Amír was terrified of Náṣiri’d-Dín _Sh_áh. He
banished Nabíl-i-Akbar and ruined Nabíl of Qá’in. After throwing him in
prison and torturing him, he drove him out as a homeless vagrant.

To Nabíl, the sudden calamity was a blessing, the sacking of his earthly
goods, the expulsion into the desert, was a kingly crown and the greatest
favor God could grant him. For some time he remained in Ṭihrán, to outward
seeming a pauper of no fixed abode, but inwardly rejoicing; for this is
the characteristic of every soul who is firm in the Covenant.

He had access to the society of the great and knew the condition of the
various princes. He would, therefore, frequent some of them and give them
the message. He was a consolation to the hearts of the believers and as a
drawn sword to the enemies of Bahá’u’lláh. He was one of those of whom we
read in the Qur’án: “For the Cause of God shall they strive hard; the
blame of the blamer shall they not fear.”(29) Day and night he toiled to
promote the Faith, and with all his might to spread abroad the clear signs
of God. He would drink and drink again of the wine of God’s love, was
clamorous as the storm clouds, restless as the waves of the sea.

Permission came, then, for him to visit the Most Great Prison; for in
Ṭihrán, as a believer, he had become a marked man. They all knew of his
conversion; he had no caution, no patience, no reserve; he cared nothing
for reticence, nothing for dissimulation. He was utterly fearless and in
terrible danger.

When he arrived at the Most Great Prison, the hostile watchers drove him
off, and try as he might he found no way to enter. He was obliged to leave
for Nazareth, where he lived for some time as a stranger, alone with his
two sons, Áqá Qulám-Ḥusayn and Áqá ‘Alí-Akbar, grieving and praying. At
last a plan was devised to introduce him into the fortress and he was
summoned to the prison where they had immured the innocent. He came in
such ecstasy as cannot be described, and was admitted to the presence of
Bahá’u’lláh. When he entered there and lifted his eyes to the Blessed
Beauty he shook and trembled and fell unconscious to the floor.
Bahá’u’lláh spoke words of loving-kindness to him and he rose again. He
spent some days hidden in the barracks, after which he returned to
Nazareth.

The inhabitants of Nazareth wondered much about him. They told one another
that he was obviously a great and distinguished man in his own country, a
notable and of high rank; and they asked themselves why he should have
chosen such an out-of-the-way corner of the world as Nazareth and how he
could be contented with such poverty and hardship.

When, in fulfillment of the promise of the Most Great Name, the gates of
the Prison were flung wide, and all the friends and travelers could enter
and leave the fortress-town in peace and with respect, Nabíl of Qá’in
would journey to see Bahá’u’lláh once in every month. However, as
commanded by Him, he continued to live in Nazareth, where he converted a
number of Christians to the Faith; and there he would weep, by day and
night, over the wrongs that were done to Bahá’u’lláh.

His means of livelihood was his business partnership with me. That is, I
provided him with a capital of three krans;(30) with it he bought needles,
and this was his stock-in-trade. The women of Nazareth gave him eggs in
exchange for his needles and in this way he would obtain thirty or forty
eggs a day: three needles per egg. Then he would sell the eggs and live on
the proceeds. Since there was a daily caravan between Akká and Nazareth,
he would refer to Áqá Riḍá each day, for more needles. Glory be to God! He
survived two years on that initial outlay of capital; and he returned
thanks at all times. You can tell how detached he was from worldly things
by this one fact: the Nazarenes used to say it was plain to see from the
old man’s manner and behavior that he was very rich, and that if he lived
so modestly it was only because he was a stranger in a strange
place—hiding his wealth by setting up as a peddler of needles.

Whenever he came into the presence of Bahá’u’lláh he received still more
evidences of favor and love. For all seasons, he was a close friend and
companion to me. When sorrows attacked me I would send for him, and then I
would rejoice just to see him again. How wonderful his talk was, how
attractive his society. Bright of face he was; free of heart; loosed from
every earthly tie, always on the wing. Toward the end he made his home in
the Most Great Prison, and every day he entered the presence of
Bahá’u’lláh.

On a certain day, walking through the bázár with his friends, he met a
gravedigger named Ḥájí Aḥmad. Although in the best of health, he addressed
the gravedigger and laughingly told him: “Come along with me.” Accompanied
by the believers and the gravedigger he made for Nabíyu’lláh Ṣáliḥ. Here
he said: “O Ḥájí Aḥmad, I have a request to make of you: when I move on,
out of this world and into the next, dig my grave here, beside the Purest
Branch.(31) This is the favor I ask.” So saying, he gave the man a gift of
money.

That very evening, not long after sunset, word came that Nabíl of Qá’in
had been taken ill. I went to his home at once. He was sitting up, and
conversing. He was radiant, laughing, joking, but for no apparent reason
the sweat was pouring off his face—it was rushing down. Except for this he
had nothing the matter with him. The perspiring went on and on; he
weakened, lay in his bed, and toward morning, died.

Bahá’u’lláh would refer to him with infinite grace and loving-kindness,
and revealed a number of Tablets in his name. The Blessed Beauty was wont,
after Nabíl’s passing, to recall that ardor, the power of that faith, and
to comment that here was a man who had recognized Him, prior to the advent
of the Báb.

All hail to him for this wondrous bestowal. “Blessedness awaiteth him and
a goodly home... And God will single out for His mercy whomsoever He
willeth.”(32)



SIYYID MUḤAMMAD-TAQÍ MANSHADÍ


Muḥammad-Taqí came from the village of Man_sh_ad. When still young, he
learned of the Faith of God. In holy ecstasy, his mind turned Heavenward,
and his heart was flooded with light. Divine grace descended upon him; the
summons of God so enraptured him that he threw the peace of Man_sh_ad to
the winds. Leaving his kinsfolk and children, he set out over mountains
and desert plains, passed from one halting-place to the next, came to the
seashore, crossed over the sea and at last reached the city of Haifa. From
there he hastened on to Akká and entered the presence of Bahá’u’lláh.

In the early days he opened a small shop in Haifa and carried on some
trifling business. God’s blessing descended upon it, and it prospered.
That little corner became the haven of the pilgrims. When they arrived,
and again at their departure, they were guests of the high-minded and
generous Muḥammad-Taqí. He also helped to manage the affairs of the
believers, and would get together their means of travel. He proved
unfailingly reliable, loyal, worthy of trust. Ultimately he became the
intermediary through whom Tablets could be sent away and mail from the
believers could come in. He performed this service with perfect
dependability, accomplishing it in a most pleasing way, scrupulously
despatching and receiving the correspondence at all times. Trusted by
everyone, he became known in many parts of the world, and received
unnumbered bounties from Bahá’u’lláh. He was a treasury of justice and
righteousness, entirely free from any attachment to worldly things. He had
accustomed himself to a very spare way of life, caring nothing for food or
sleep, comfort or peace. He lived all alone in a single room, passed the
nights on a couch of palm branches, and slept in a corner. But to the
travelers, he was a spring in the desert; for them, he provided the
softest of pillows, and the best table he could afford. He had a smiling
face and by nature was spiritual and serene.

After the Daystar of the Supreme Concourse had set, Siyyid Man_sh_adí
remained loyal to the Covenant, a sharp sword confronting the violators.
They tried every ruse, every deceit, all their subtlest expedients; it is
beyond imagining how they showered favors on him and what honors they paid
him, what feasts they prepared, what pleasures they offered, all this to
make a breach in his faith. Yet every day he grew stronger than before,
continued to be staunch and true, kept free from every unseemly thought,
and shunned whatever went contrary to the Covenant of God. When they
finally despaired of shaking his resolve, they harassed him in every
possible way, and plotted his financial ruin. He remained, however, the
quintessence of constancy and trust.

When, at the instigation of the violators, ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd began his
opposition to me, I was obliged to send Man_sh_adí away to Port Sa’íd,
because he was widely known among the people as the distributor of our
mail. I then had to relay the correspondence to him through intermediaries
who were unknown, and he would send the letters on as before. In this way
the treacherous and the hostile were unable to take over the mail. During
the latter days of ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd, when a commission of investigation
appeared and—urged on by those familiars-turned-strangers—made plans to
tear out the Holy Tree by the roots; when they determined to cast me into
the depths of the sea or banish me to the Fezzan, and this was their
settled purpose; and when the commission accordingly tried their utmost to
get hold of some document or other, they failed. In the thick of all that
turmoil, with all the pressures and restraints, and the foul attacks of
those persons who were pitiless as Yazíd,(33) still the mail went through.

For many long years, Siyyid Man_sh_adí befittingly performed this service
in Port Sa’íd. The friends were uniformly pleased with him. In that city
he earned the gratitude of travelers, placed those who had emigrated in
his debt, brought joy to the local believers. Then the heavy heat of Egypt
proved too much for him; he took to his bed, and in a raging fever, cast
off the robe of life. He abandoned Port Sa’íd for the Kingdom of Heaven,
and rose up to the mansions of the Lord.

Siyyid Man_sh_adí was the essence of virtue and intellect. His qualities
and attainments were such as to amaze the most accomplished minds. He had
no thought except of God, no hope but to win the good pleasure of God. He
was the embodiment of “Keep all my words of prayer and praise confined to
one refrain; make all my life but servitude to Thee.”

May God cool his feverish pain with the grace of reunion in the Kingdom,
and heal his sickness with the balm of nearness to Him in the Realm of the
All-Beauteous. Upon him be the glory of God the Most Glorious.



MUḤAMMAD-‘ALÍ SABBÁQ OF YAZD


Early in youth, Muḥammad-‘Alí Sabbáq became a believer while in ‘Iráq. He
tore away hindering veils and doubts, escaped from his delusions and
hastened to the welcoming shelter of the Lord of Lords. A man to outward
seeming without education, for he could neither read nor write, he was of
sharp intelligence and a trustworthy friend. Through one of the believers,
he was brought into the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, and was soon widely known
to the public as a disciple. He found himself a corner to live in, close
beside the house of the Blessed Beauty, and mornings and evenings would
enter the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. For a time he was supremely happy.

When Bahá’u’lláh and His retinue left Ba_gh_dád for Constantinople, Áqá
Muḥammad-‘Alí was of that company, and fevered with the love of God. We
reached Constantinople; and since the Government obliged us to settle in
Adrianople we left Muḥammad-‘Alí in the Turkish capital to assist the
believers as they came and went through that city. We then went on to
Adrianople. This man remained alone and he suffered intense distress for
he had no friend nor companion nor anyone to care for him.

After two years of this he came on to Adrianople, seeking a haven in the
loving-kindness of Bahá’u’lláh. He went to work as a peddler, and when the
great rebellion(34) began and the oppressors drove the friends to the
extreme of adversity, he too was among the prisoners and was exiled with
us to the fortress at Akká.

He spent a considerable time in the Most Great Prison, after which
Bahá’u’lláh desired him to leave for Sidon, where he engaged in trade.
Sometimes he would return and be received by Bahá’u’lláh, but otherwise he
stayed in Sidon. He lived respected and trusted, a credit to all. When the
Supreme Affliction came upon us, he returned to Akká and passed the
remainder of his days near the Holy Tomb.

The friends, one and all, were pleased with him, and he was cherished at
the Holy Threshold; in this state he soared to abiding glory, leaving his
kin to mourn. He was a kind man, an excellent one: content with God’s will
for him, thankful, a man of dignity, long-suffering. Upon him be the glory
of the All-Glorious. May God send down, upon his scented tomb in Akká,
tiers of celestial light.



‘ABDU’L-GHAFFÁR OF IṢFÁHÁN


Another of those who left their homeland to become our neighbors and
fellow prisoners was ‘Abdu’l-_Gh_affár of Iṣfáhán. He was a highly
perceptive individual who, on commercial business, had traveled about Asia
Minor for many years. He made a journey to ‘Iráq, where Áqá Muḥammad-‘Alí
of Sád (Iṣfáhán) brought him into the shelter of the Faith. He soon ripped
off the bandage of illusions that had blinded his eyes before, and he rose
up, winging to salvation in the Heaven of Divine love. With him, the veil
had been thin, almost transparent, and that is why, as the first word was
imparted, he was immediately released from the world of idle imaginings
and attached himself to the One Who is clear to see.

On the journey from ‘Iráq to the Great City, Constantinople,
‘Abdu’l-_Gh_affár was a close and agreeable companion. He served as
interpreter for the entire company, for he spoke excellent Turkish, a
language in which none of the friends was proficient. The journey came
peacefully to an end and then, in the Great City, he continued on, as a
companion and friend. The same was true in Adrianople and also when, as
one of the prisoners, he accompanied us to the city of Haifa.

Here, the oppressors determined to send him to Cyprus. He was terrified
and shouted for help, for he longed to be with us in the Most Great
Prison.(35) When they held him back by force, from high up on the ship he
threw himself into the sea. This had no effect whatever on the brutal
officers. After dragging him from the water they held him prisoner on the
ship, cruelly restraining him, and carrying him away by force to Cyprus.
He was jailed in Famagusta, but one way or another managed to escape and
hastened to Akká. Here, protecting himself from the malevolence of our
oppressors, he changed his name to ‘Abdu’lláh. Sheltered within the
loving-kindness of Bahá’u’lláh, he passed his days at ease, and happy.

But when the world’s great Light had set, to shine on forever from the
All-Luminous Horizon, ‘Abdu’l-_Gh_affár was beside himself and a prey to
anguish. He no longer had a home. He left for Damascus and spent some time
there, pent up in his sorrow, mourning by day and night. He grew weaker
and weaker. We despatched Ḥájí Abbás there, to nurse him and give him
treatment and care, and send back word of him every day. But
‘Abdu’l-_Gh_affár would do nothing but talk, unceasingly, at every hour,
with his nurse, and tell how he longed to go his way, into the mysterious
country beyond. And at the end, far from home, exiled from his Love, he
set out for the Holy Threshold of Bahá’u’lláh.

He was truly a man long-suffering, and mild; a man of good character, good
acts, and goodly words. Greetings and praise be unto him, and the glory of
the All-Glorious. His sweet-scented tomb is in Damascus.



‘ALÍ NAJAF-ÁBÁDÍ


Also among the emigrants and near neighbors was Áqá ‘Alí Najaf-Ábádí. When
this spiritual young man first listened to the call of God he set his lips
to the holy cup and beheld the glory of the Speaker on the Mount. And
when, by grace of the light, he had attained positive knowledge, he
journeyed to the Most Great Prison, where he witnessed the substance of
knowledge itself, and arrived at the high station of indubitable truth.

For a long time he remained in and about the sacred city; he became the
proverbial Habíbu’lláh the Merchant, and spent his days relying upon God,
in supplication and prayer. He was a man meek, quiet, uncomplaining,
steadfast; in all things pleasing, worthy of praise. He won the approval
of all the friends and was accepted and welcome at the Holy Threshold.
During his latter days, when he felt that a happy end was in store for
him, he again presented himself at the holy city of the Most Great Prison.
Upon arrival he fell ill, weakened, passed his hours in supplicating God.
The breath of life ceased within him, the gates of flight to the supreme
Kingdom were flung wide, he turned his eyes away from this world of dust
and went onward to the Holy Place.

‘Alí Najaf-Ábádí was tender and sensitive of heart, at all times mindful
of God and remembering Him, and toward the close of his life detached,
without stain, free from the contagion of this world. Sweetly, he gave up
his corner of the earth, and pitched his tent in the land beyond. May God
send upon him the pure savors of forgiveness, brighten his eyes with
beholding the Divine Beauty in the Kingdom of Splendors, and refresh his
spirit with the musk-scented winds that blow from the Abhá Realm. Unto him
be salutation and praise. His sweet and holy dust lies in Akká. Ma_sh_hadí
Ḥusayn and Ma_sh_hadí Muḥammad-i-Á_dh_irbayjání

Ma_sh_hadí Ḥusayn and Ma_sh_hadí Muḥammad were both from the province of
Á_dh_irbayján. They were pure souls who took the great step in their own
country: they freed themselves from friend and stranger alike, escaped
from the superstitions that had blinded them before, strengthened their
resolve, and bowed themselves down before the grace of God, the Lord of
Life. They were blessed souls, loyal, unsullied in faith; evanescent,
submissive, poor, content with the will of God, in love with His guiding
Light, rejoicing over the great message. They left their province and
traveled to Adrianople. Here beside the holy city they lived for quite a
time in the village of Qumrúq-Kilísá. By day, they supplicated God and
communed with Him; by night, they wept, bemoaning the plight of Him Whom
the world hath wronged.

When the exile to Akká was under way, they were not present in the city
and thus were not arrested. Heavy of heart, they continued on in that
area, shedding their tears. Once they had obtained a definite report from
Akká, they left Rumelia and came here: two excellent souls, loyal bondsmen
of the Blessed Beauty. It is impossible to tell how translucent they were
of heart, how firm in faith.

They lived outside Akká in Bá_gh_-i-Firdaws, worked as farmers, and spent
their days returning thanks to God because once again they had won their
way to the neighborhood of grace and love. But they were natives of
Á_dh_irbayján, accustomed to the cold, and they could not endure the local
heat. Furthermore, this was during our early days in Akká, when the air
was noxious, and the water unwholesome in the extreme. They both fell ill
of a chronic, high fever. They bore it cheerfully, with amazing patience.
During their days of illness, despite the assault of the fever, the
violence of their ailment, the raging thirst, the restlessness, they
remained inwardly at peace, rejoicing at the Divine glad tidings. And at a
time when they were offering thanks with all their heart, they hurried
away from this world and entered the other; they escaped from this cage
and were released into the garden of immortality. Upon them be the mercy
of God, and may He be well pleased with them. Unto them be salutations and
praise. May God bring them into the Realm that abides forever, to delight
in reunion with Him, to bask in the Kingdom of Splendors. Their two
luminous tombs are in Akká.



ḤÁJÍ ‘ABDU’R-RAḤÍM-I-YAZDÍ


Ḥájí ‘Abdu’r-Raḥím of Yazd was a precious soul, from his earliest years
virtuous and God-fearing, and known among the people as a holy man,
peerless in observing his religious duties, mindful as to his acts. His
strong religious faith was an indisputable fact. He served and worshiped
God by day and night, was sound, mild, compassionate, a loyal friend.

Because he was fully prepared, at the very moment when he heard the
summons from the Supreme Horizon—heard the drumbeats of “Am I not your
Lord?”—he instantly cried out, “Yea, verily!” With his whole being, he
became enamored of the splendors shed by the Light of the World. Openly
and boldly he began to confirm his family and friends. This was soon known
throughout the city; to the eyes of the evil ‘ulamás, he was now an object
of hate and contempt. Incurring their wrath, he was despised by those
creatures of their own low passions. He was molested and harassed; the
inhabitants rioted, and the evil ‘ulamás plotted his death. The government
authorities turned on him as well, hounded him, even subjected him to
torture. They beat him with clubs, and whipped him. All this went on, by
day and night.

He was forced, then, to abandon his home and go out of the city, a
vagrant, climbing the mountains, crossing over the plains, until he came
to the Holy Land. But so weak he was, and wasted away, that whoever saw
him thought he was breathing his last; when he reached Haifa, Nabíl of
Qá’in hurried to Akká, and desired me to summon the Ḥájí at once, because
he was in his death agony and failing fast.

“Let me go to the Mansion,” I said, “and ask leave.” “It would take too
long,” he said. “And then ‘Abdu’r-Raḥím will never see Akká. I long for
him to have this bounty; for him at least to see Akká, and die. I beg of
You, send for him at once!”

Complying with his wish, I summoned ‘Abdu’r-Raḥím. When he came, I could
hardly detect in him a whisper of life. At times he would open his eyes,
but he spoke no word. Still, the sweet savors of the Most Great Prison
restored the vital spark, and his yearning to meet Bahá’u’lláh breathed
life into him again. I looked in on him the next morning and found him
cheerful and refreshed. He asked permission to attend upon Bahá’u’lláh.
“It all depends,” I answered, “on whether He grants you leave. God
willing, you shall be singled out for this cherished gift.”

A few days later, permission came, and he hastened to the presence of
Bahá’u’lláh. When ‘Abdu’r-Raḥím entered there, the spirit of life was
wafted over him. On his return, it was clear that this Ḥájí had become a
different Ḥájí entirely: he was in the bloom of health. Nabíl was
dumbfounded, and said: “How life-giving, to a true believer, is this
prison air!”

For some time, ‘Abdu’r-Raḥím lived in the neighborhood. He spent his hours
remembering and praising God; he chanted prayers, and carefully attended
to his religious duties. Thus he saw few people. This servant paid special
attention to his needs, and ordered a light diet for him. But it all came
to an end with the Supreme Affliction, the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh. There
was anguish then, and the noise of loud weeping. With his heart on fire,
his eyes raining tears, he struggled weakly to move about; so his days
went by, and always, he longed to make his exit from this rubbish heap,
the world. At last he broke away from the torment of his loss, and hurried
on to the Realm of God, and came to the assemblage of Divine splendor in
the Kingdom of Lights.

Unto him be salutations and praise, and mercy ineffable. May God scatter
on his resting-place rays from the mysterious Realm.



ḤÁJÍ ‘ABDU’LLÁH NAJAF-ÁBÁDÍ


Once he had become a believer, Ḥájí ‘Abdu’lláh left his native Persia,
hastened to the Holy Land, and under the sheltering grace of Bahá’u’lláh
found peace of heart. He was a man confident, steadfast and firm; certain
of the manifold bounties of God; of an excellent disposition and
character.

He spent his days in friendly association with the other believers. Then
for a while he went to _Gh_awr, near Tiberias, where he farmed, both
tilling the soil and devoting much of his time to supplicating and
communing with God. He was an excellent man, high-minded and unsullied.

Later he returned from _Gh_awr, settled near Bahá’u’lláh in Junayna, and
came often into His presence. His eyes were fixed on the Abhá Kingdom;
sometimes he would shed tears and moan, again he would rejoice, glad
because he had achieved his supreme desire. He was completely detached
from all but God, happy in God’s grace. He would keep a vigil most of the
night, remaining in a state of prayer. Then death came at the appointed
hour, and in the shadowing care of Bahá’u’lláh he ascended, hurried away
from this world of dust to the high Firmament, soared upward to the secret
land. Unto him be salutations, mercy and praise, in the neighborhood of
his exalted Lord.



MUḤAMMAD-HÁDÍY-I-ṢAḤḤÁF


Yet one more among those who emigrated and came to settle near Bahá’u’lláh
was the bookbinder, Muḥammad-Hádí. This noted man was from Iṣfáhán, and as
a binder and illuminator of books he had no peer. When he gave himself up
to the love of God he was alert on the path and fearless. He abandoned his
home and began a dreadful journey, passing with extreme hardship from one
country to another until he reached the Holy Land and became a prisoner.
He stationed himself by the Holy Threshold, carefully sweeping it and
keeping watch. Through his constant efforts, the square in front of
Bahá’u’lláh’s house was at all times swept, sprinkled and immaculate.

Bahá’u’lláh would often glance at that plot of ground, and then He would
smile and say: “Muḥammad-Hádí has turned the square in front of this
prison into the bridalbower of a palace. He has brought pleasure to all
the neighbors and earned their thanks.”

When his sweeping, sprinkling and tidying was done, he would set to work
illuminating and binding the various books and Tablets. So his days went
by, his heart happy in the presence of the Beloved of mankind. He was an
excellent soul, righteous, true, worthy of the bounty of being united with
his Lord, and free of the world’s contagion.

One day he came to me and complained of a chronic ailment. “I have
suffered from chills and fever for two years,” he said, “The doctors have
prescribed a purgative, and quinine. The fever stops a few days; then it
returns. They give me more quinine, but still the fever returns. I am
weary of this life, and can no longer do my work. Save me!”

“What food would you most enjoy?” I asked him. “What would you eat with
great appetite?”

“I don’t know,” he said. Jokingly, I named off the different dishes. When
I came to barley soup with whey (á_sh_-i-ka_sh_k), he said, “Very good!
But on condition there is braised garlic in it.”

I directed them to prepare this for him, and I left. The next day he
presented himself and told me: “I ate a whole bowlful of the soup. Then I
laid my head on my pillow and slept peacefully till morning.”

In short, from then on he was perfectly well for about two years.

One day a believer came to me and said: “Muḥammad-Hádí is burning up with
fever.” I hurried to his bedside and found him with a fever of 42
Centigrade. He was barely conscious. “What has he done?” I asked. “When he
became feverish,” was the reply, “he said that he knew from experience
what he should do. Then he ate his fill of barley soup with whey and
braised garlic; and this was the result.”

I was astounded at the workings of fate. I told them: “Because, two years
ago, he had been thoroughly purged and his system was clear; because he
had a hearty appetite for it, and his ailment was fever and chills, I
prescribed the barley soup. But this time, with the different foods he has
had, with no appetite, and especially with a high fever, there was no
reason to diagnose the previous chronic condition. How could he have eaten
the soup!” They answered, “It was fate.” Things had gone too far;
Muḥammad-Hádí was past saving.

He was a man short of stature, lofty of station and mind. His heart was
pure, his soul luminous. During all those days when he served the Holy
Threshold, he was loved by the friends and favored by God. From time to
time, a smile on His lips, the Blessed Beauty would speak to him,
expressing kindness and grace.

Muḥammad-Hádí was loyal always, and he accounted all things other than
God’s good pleasure as fiction and fable, nothing more. Blessed is he for
this gift bestowed upon him, glad tidings to him for the place to which he
shall be led; may it do him good, this wine-cup tempered at the camphor
fountain, and may all his strivings meet with thanks and be acceptable to
God.(36)



MÍRZÁ MUḤAMMAD-QULÍ


Jináb-i-Mírzá Muḥammad-Qulí(37) was a loyal brother of the Blessed Beauty.
This great man was known even from his childhood for nobility of soul. He
was newly born when his distinguished father passed away, and thus it came
about that from the beginning to the end of his days, he spent his life in
the sheltering arms of Bahá’u’lláh. He was detached from every selfish
thought, averse to every mention except to whatever concerned the Holy
Cause. He was reared in Persia under the care of Bahá’u’lláh, and in ‘Iráq
as well, especially favored by Him. In the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, it was
he who would pass around the tea; and he waited upon his Brother at all
times, by day and night. He was always silent. He always held fast to the
Covenant of “Am I not your Lord?” He was encompassed by loving-kindness
and bounty; day and night he had access to the presence of Bahá’u’lláh; he
was invariably patient and forbearing, until in the end he reached the
very heights of Divine favor and acceptance.

He kept always to his own way of being. He traveled in the company of
Bahá’u’lláh; from ‘Iráq to Constantinople he was with the convoy and at
the halting-places it was his task to pitch the tents. He served with the
greatest diligence, and did not know the meaning of lethargy or fatigue.
In Constantinople as well, and later in the Land of Mystery, Adrianople,
he continued on, in one and the same invariable condition.

With his peerless Lord, he then was exiled to the Akká fortress, condemned
by order of the Sulṭán to be imprisoned forever.(38) But he accepted in
the same spirit all that came his way—comfort and torment, hardship and
respite, sickness and health; eloquently, he would return thanks to the
Blessed Beauty for His bounties, uttering praise with a free heart and a
face that shone like the sun. Each morning and evening he waited upon
Bahá’u’lláh, delighting in and sustained by His presence; and mostly, he
kept silent.

When the Beloved of all mankind ascended to the Kingdom of Splendors,
Mírzá Muḥammad-Qulí remained firm in the Covenant, shunning the craft, the
malice and hypocrisy which then appeared, devoting himself entirely to
God, supplicating and praying. To those who would listen he gave wise
advice; and he called to mind the days of the Blessed Beauty and grieved
over the fact that he himself lived on. After the departure of
Bahá’u’lláh, he did not draw an easeful breath; he kept company with no
one, but stayed by himself most of the time, alone in his small refuge,
burning with the fires of separation. Day by day he grew feebler, more
helpless, until at the last he soared away to the world of God. Upon him
be peace; upon him be praise and mercy, in the gardens of Heaven. His
luminous grave is in Naqíb, by Tiberias.



USTÁD BÁQIR AND USTÁD AḤMAD


And again among those who left their homeland were two carpenters, Ustád
Báqir and Ustád Aḥmad. These two were brothers, of pure lineage, and
natives of Ká_sh_án. From the time when both became believers each held
the other in his embrace. They harkened to the voice of God, and to His
cry of “Am I not your Lord?” they replied, “Yea, verily!”

For a time they stayed on in their own country, occupied with the
remembrance of God, characterized by faith and knowledge, respected by
friend and stranger alike, known to all for righteousness and
trustworthiness, for austerity of life and the fear of God. When the
oppressor stretched forth his hands against them, and tormented them
beyond endurance, they emigrated to ‘Iráq, to the sheltering care of
Bahá’u’lláh. They were two most blessed souls. For some time they remained
in ‘Iráq, praying in all lowliness, and supplicating God.

Then Ustád Aḥmad departed for Adrianople, while Ustád Báqir remained in
‘Iráq and was taken as a prisoner to Mosul. Ustád Aḥmad went on with the
party of Bahá’u’lláh to the Most Great Prison, and Ustád Báqir emigrated
from Mosul to Akká. Both of the brothers were under the protection of God
and free from every earthly bond. In the prison, they worked at their
craft, keeping to themselves, away from friend and stranger alike.
Tranquil, dignified, confident, strong in faith, sheltered by the
All-Merciful, they happily spent their days. Ustád Báqir was the first to
die, and some time afterward his brother followed him.

These two were firm believers, loyal, patient, at all times thankful, at
all times supplicating God in lowliness, with their faces turned in His
direction. During that long stay in the prison they were never neglectful
of duty, never at fault. They were constantly joyful, for they had drunk
deep of the holy cup; and when they soared upward, out of the world, the
friends mourned over them and asked that by the grace of Bahá’u’lláh, they
should be favored and forgiven. These two were embosomed in bounty, and
Divinely sustained, and the Blessed Beauty was well pleased with them
both; with this provision for their journey, they set out for the world to
come. Upon them both be the glory of God the All-Glorious; to each be a
seat of truth(39) in the Kingdom of Splendors.



MUḤAMMAD HANÁ-SAB


This man of dignity and rank, Áqá Muḥammad, was yet another among those
who abandoned their homes, and was one of the earliest believers. From the
dawn tide, he was widely known as a lover of the Most Great Light. He was
then in Iṣfáhán, and he shut his eyes to this world and the next as
well,(40) and opened them to the beauty of Him Who is the embodiment of
all that is lovable.(41)

Áqá Muḥammad could no longer find rest, for he had come alive through the
musk-laden breathings of God; his heart was alight, he could inhale the
holy fragrance, he had an eye to see, an ear to hear. He guided a number
of souls, remaining true and loyal to the great Cause. He endured terrible
persecution and torment, but did not falter. Then he found favor in the
eyes of the King of Martyrs and became a trusted attendant of the Beloved
of Martyrs,(42) serving them for some years. He was confirmed in his work,
so that on many occasions the King of Martyrs expressed satisfaction with
him, saying, “This man is one of those souls who are at rest; he is indeed
well-pleased with his Lord, and well-pleasing unto Him.(43) His faith is
unalloyed, he loves God, he has a good character, and leads a good life.
He is also an agreeable companion, and an eloquent one.”

After the King of Martyrs was put to death, Áqá Muḥammad stayed on for a
time in Iṣfáhán, consumed with mourning for him. Finally he emigrated to
the Most Great Prison, where he was received by Bahá’u’lláh, and won the
high honor of sweeping the ground about the Threshold. He was patient,
forbearing, a true friend and companion. Then the Supreme Affliction came
upon us, and Áqá Muḥammad was in such anguish that he was unable to rest
for a moment. At every dawn he would rise and would sweep the ground about
the house of Bahá’u’lláh, his tears pouring down like rain, chanting
prayers as he worked.

What a holy being he was, how great a man! He could not bear the
separation very long, but died, and hastened onward to the world of
lights, to the assemblage where the beauty of God is unveiled. May God
shed upon his grave rays from the realm of forgiveness, and lull his
spirit in the heart of Paradise. May God exalt his station in the gardens
above. His bright tomb is in Akká.



ḤÁJÍ FARAJU’LLÁH TAFRÍSHÍ


Yet another of those who came out of their homeland to live in the
neighborhood of Bahá’u’lláh was Faraju’lláh of Tafrí_sh_. This blessed
individual was from earliest youth the servant of Bahá’u’lláh, and with
his esteemed father, Áqá Lutfu’lláh, he emigrated from Persia to
Adrianople. Áqá Lutfu’lláh was a staunch believer, lovingly devoted to the
Blessed Beauty. Patient, long-suffering, completely indifferent to this
world and its vanities, he lived content in the neighborhood of
Bahá’u’lláh; and then humbly at the Threshold, with a contrite heart, he
abandoned this fleeting life and soared away to the boundless realms
beyond. His sweet-scented dust is in Adrianople.

As for Ḥájí Faraju’lláh, he lived on in that city, until the day when
merciless oppressors banished Bahá’u’lláh to Akká, and in His company the
Ḥájí came here to the Most Great Prison. Later on, when hardship was
changed into ease, he engaged in trade, becoming a partner to
Muḥammad-‘Alí of Iṣfáhán. For some time he prospered and was happy. Then
he was given leave to go, and journeyed to India, where he spent a long
period before he winged his way into the gardens of forgiveness, and
entered the precincts of ineffable mercy.

This servant of the Blessed Beauty was one with the believers in their
afflictions and calamities; he had his share of the anguish. The favors of
Bahá’u’lláh compassed him about, and he rejoiced in that boundless grace.
He was among the companions, a close associate of the friends, and he had
a docile heart. Although his body was thin and sickly, he was thankful,
accepted it, was patient, and endured the trials of God’s path. Unto him
be greetings and praise; may he receive Heavenly gifts and blessings; upon
him be the glory of God the All-Glorious. His pure sepulcher is in Bombay,
India.



ÁQÁ IBRÁHÍM-I-IṢFÁHÁNÍ AND HIS BROTHERS


And among those who emigrated and came to settle in the Holy Land was Áqá
Ibráhím, one of four honored brothers: Muḥammad-Ṣádiq; Muḥammad-Ibráhím;
Áqá Habíbu’lláh; and Muḥammad-‘Alí. These four lived in Ba_gh_dád with
their paternal uncle, Áqá Muḥammad-Riḍá, known as Árid. They all lived in
the same house, and remained together day and night. Bird-like, they
shared the one nest; and they were always fresh and full of grace, like
flowers in a bed.

When the Ancient Beauty arrived in ‘Iráq their house was in the
neighborhood of His, and thus they had the joy of watching Him as He came
and went. Little by little the manner of that Lord of hearts, what He did
and what He did not do, and the sight of His lovesome face, had its
effect; they began to thirst after the Faith and to seek His grace and
favor. They presented themselves at the door of His house, as if they were
flowers blooming there; and they were soon enamored of the light that
shone out from His brow, captives of the beauty of that dear Companion.
They needed no teacher, then; by themselves, they saw through the veils
that had blinded them before, and won the supreme desire of their hearts.

As commanded by the Blessed Beauty, Mírzá Javád of Tur_sh_íz went to their
house one night. Mírzá Javád had hardly opened his mouth when they
accepted the Faith. They did not hesitate for an instant, for they had
amazing receptivity. This is what is meant by the Qur’ánic verse:
“...whose oil would well nigh shine out, even though fire touched it not!
It is light upon light.”(44) That is, this oil is so fully prepared, so
ready to be lit, that it almost catches fire of itself, though no flame be
at hand; which means that the capacity for faith, and the deserving it,
can be so great, that without the communication of a single word the light
shines forth. This is how it was with those pure-hearted men; truly they
were loyal, staunch, and devoted to God.

The eldest brother, Muḥammad-Ṣádiq, accompanied Bahá’u’lláh from ‘Iráq to
Constantinople, and from there to Adrianople, where he lived happily for
some time, close to his Lord. He was humble, long-suffering, thankful;
there was always a smile on his lips; he was light of heart, and his soul
was in love with Bahá’u’lláh. Later he was given leave to return to ‘Iráq,
for his family was there, and he remained in that city for a while,
dreaming and remembering.

Then a great calamity occurred in ‘Iráq, and all four brothers with their
noble uncle were taken prisoner. Victimized, captive, they were brought to
Mosul. The uncle, Áqá Muḥammad-Riḍá, was an old man, illumined of mind,
spiritual of heart, a man detached from all worldly things. He had been
extremely rich in ‘Iráq, enjoying comforts and pleasures, but now in
Hadba—Mosul—he became the chief victim among the prisoners, and suffered
dire need. He was destitute, but remained dignified, patient, content, and
thankful. Keeping to himself in an out-of-the-way place, he praised God
day and night until he died. He gave up his heart to his heart’s Love,
burst from the shackles of this inconstant world and ascended to the
Kingdom that endures forever. May God immerse him in the waters of
forgiveness, make him to enter the garden of His compassion and good
pleasure, and keep him in Paradise till the end of time.

As for Muḥammad-Ṣádiq, he too, in Mosul, was subjected to hardships on
God’s path. He too was a soul at rest, well-pleased with his Lord and
well-pleasing unto Him. In the end he too replied to the voice of the King
of Glory: “Lord, here am I!” and came to fulfill the verses: “O thou soul
who art well-assured, return unto thy Lord, well-pleased, and
well-pleasing unto Him. Enter thou among My servants; enter Thou My
Paradise.”(45)

And Muḥammad-‘Alí, once he was freed from captivity, hastened from Mosul
to the Holy Land, to the precincts of inexhaustible grace. Here he still
lives. Although he suffers hardship, his heart is at peace. As for his
brother Ibráhím, referred to above, he also came on from Mosul to Akká,
but to a region close by. There with patience, calm, contentment, but
difficulty, he engaged in trade, meanwhile mourning the ascension of
Bahá’u’lláh by day and night. Lowly and contrite, with his face turned
toward the mysterious realms of God, he wore his life away. At the end,
consumed by the years, hardly able to move about, he came to Haifa, where
he found a corner of the travelers’ hospice to live in, and spent his time
humbly calling upon God, entreating Him, offering praise. Little by
little, eaten away with age, his person began its dissolution, and at the
end he stripped off the garment of flesh and with his unclothed spirit
took flight to the realm of the All-Merciful. He was transported out of
this dark life into the shining air, and was plunged in a sea of lights.
May God brighten his grave with spreading rays, and lull his spirit with
the fannings of Divine compassion. Upon him be the mercy of God, and His
good pleasure.

As for Áqá Habíbu’lláh, he too was made a captive in ‘Iráq and was
banished away to Mosul. For a long time, he lived in that city, subjected
to hardships, but remaining content, and his faith increasing day by day.
When famine came to Mosul life was harder than ever on the outsiders, but
in the remembrance of God their hearts were at rest,(46) and their souls
ate of food from Heaven. Thus they endured it all with astonishing
patience, and the people wondered at those strangers in their midst who
were neither distressed nor terrified as the others were, and who
continued to offer praise day and night. “What amazing trust,” the people
said, “they have in God!”

Habíb was a man with a great store of patience and a joyous heart. He
accustomed himself to exile and he lived in a state of yearning love.
After the departure from Ba_gh_dád, the prisoners of Mosul were constantly
made mention of by Bahá’u’lláh; with regard to them, He expressed His
infinite favor. A few years afterward, Habíb hastened away to the
encompassing mercy of God, and found a nest and refuge on the boughs of
the celestial Tree. There, in the Paradise of all delights, with wondrous
songs he poured out his praise of the bountiful Lord.



ÁQÁ MUḤAMMAD-IBRÁHÍM


Muḥammad-Ibráhím, who bore the title of Mansúr—Victorious—was a
coppersmith. This man of God, yet another among the emigrants and
settlers, was a native of Ká_sh_án. In the early flowering of his youth he
recognized the newborn Light and drank deep of the holy cup that is
“tempered at the camphor fountain.”(47) He was a man of pleasing
disposition, full of zest and the joy of life. As soon as the light of
faith was lit in his heart, he left Ká_sh_án, journeyed to Ba_gh_dád, and
was honored with coming into the presence of Bahá’u’lláh.

Áqá Muḥammad had a fine poetic gift, and he would create verses like
stringed pearls. In Zawrá—that is, Ba_gh_dád, the Abode of Peace—he was on
amicable terms with friend and stranger alike, ever striving to show forth
loving-kindness to all. He brought his brothers from Persia to Ba_gh_dád,
and opened a shop for arts and crafts, applying himself to the welfare of
others. He, too, was taken prisoner and exiled from Ba_gh_dád to Mosul,
after which he journeyed to Haifa, where day and night, lowly and humble,
he chanted prayers and supplications and centered his thoughts on God.

He remained a long time in Haifa, successfully serving the believers
there, and most humbly and unobtrusively seeing to the travelers’ needs.
He married in that city, and fathered fine children. To him every day was
a new life and a new joy, and whatever money he made he spent on strangers
and friends. After the slaying of the King of Martyrs, he wrote an elegy
to memorialize that believer who had fallen on the field of anguish, and
recited his ode in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh; the lines were touching in
the extreme, so that all who were there shed tears, and voices were raised
in grief.

Áqá Muḥammad continued to live out his life, high of aim, unvarying as to
his inner condition, with fervor and love. Then he welcomed death,
laughing like a rose suddenly full-blown, and crying, “Here am I!” Thus he
quitted Haifa, exchanging it for the world above. From this narrow slip of
land he hastened upward to the Well-Beloved, soared out of this dust heap
to pitch his tent in a fair and shining place. Blessings be unto him, and
a goodly home.(48) May God sheathe him in mercies; may he rest under the
tabernacles of forgiveness and be brought into the gardens of Heaven.



ZAYNU’L-ÁBIDÍN YAZDÍ


One of the emigrants who died along the way to the Holy Land was
Zaynu’l-Ábidín of Yazd. When, in Man_sh_ad, this devoted man first heard
the cry of God, he was awakened to restless life. A holy passion stirred
him, his soul was made new. The light of guidance flamed from the lamp of
his heart; the love of God sparked a revolution in the country of his
inner self. Carried away by love for the Loved One’s beauty, he left the
home that was dear to him and set out for the Desired Land.

As he traveled along with his two sons, gladdened by hopes of the meeting
that would be his, he paused on every hilltop, in every plain, village and
hamlet to visit with the friends. But the great distance stretching out
before him changed to a sea of troubles, and although his spirit yearned,
his body weakened, and at the end he sickened and turned helpless; all
this when he was without a home.

Sick as he was, he did not renounce the journey, nor fail in his resolve;
he had amazing strength of will, and was determined to keep on; but the
illness worsened with every passing day, until at last he winged his way
to the mercy of God, and yielded up his soul in a longing unfulfilled.

Although to outward eyes he never drained the cup of meeting, never gazed
upon the beauty of Bahá’u’lláh, still he achieved the very spirit of
spiritual communion; he is accounted as one of those who attained the
Presence, and for him the reward of those who reached that Presence is
fixed and ordained. He was a stainless soul, faithful, devoted and true.
He never drew a breath except in righteousness, and his single desire was
to worship his Lord. He walked the ways of love; he was known to all for
steadfast loyalty and pure intent. May God fill up reunion’s cup for him
in a fair country, make him to enter the everlasting Kingdom, and console
his eyes with beholding the lights of that mysterious Realm.



ḤÁJÍ MULLÁ MIHDÍY-I-YAZDÍ


Yet another who left his homeland was Mullá Mihdí of Yazd. Although to all
appearances this excellent man was not of the learned class, he was an
expert in the field of Muslim sacred traditions and an eloquent
interpreter of orally transmitted texts. Persevering in his devotions,
known for holy practices and nightly communings and vigils, his heart was
illumined, and he was spiritual of mind and soul. He spent most of his
time repeating communes, performing the obligatory prayers, confessing his
failings and supplicating the Lord. He was one of those who penetrate
mysteries, and was a confidant of the righteous. As a teacher of the Faith
he was never at a loss for words, forgetting, as he taught, all restraint,
pouring forth one upon another sacred traditions and texts.

When news of him spread around the town and he was everywhere charged, by
prince and pauper alike, with bearing this new name, he freely declared
his adherence and on this account was publicly disgraced. Then the evil
‘ulamás of Yazd rose up, issuing a decree that he must die. Since the
mujtahid, Mullá Báqir of Ardikán, refused to confirm the sentence of those
dark divines, Mullá Mihdí lived on, but was forced to leave his native
home. With his two sons, one the great martyr-to-be, Jináb-i-Varqá, and
the other Jináb-i-Ḥusayn, he set out for the country of his Well-Beloved.
In every town and village along the way, he ably spread the Faith,
adducing clear arguments and proofs, quoting from and interpreting the
sacred traditions and evident signs.(49) He did not rest for a moment;
everywhere he shed abroad the attar of the love of God, and diffused the
sweet breathings of holiness. And he inspired the friends, making them
eager to teach others in their turn, and to excel in knowledge.

He was an eminent soul, with his heart fixed on the beauty of God. From
the day he was first created and came into this world, he single-mindedly
devoted all his efforts to acquiring grace for the day he should be born
into the next.(50) His heart was illumined, his mind spiritual, his soul
aspiring, his destination Heaven. He was imprisoned along his way; and as
he crossed the deserts and climbed and descended the mountain slopes he
endured terrible, uncounted hardships. But the light of faith shone from
his brow and in his breast the longing was aflame, and thus he joyously,
gladly passed over the frontiers until at last he came to Beirut. In that
city, ill, restive, his patience gone, he spent some days. His yearning
grew, and his agitation was such that weak and sick as he was, he could
wait no more.

He set out on foot for the house of Bahá’u’lláh. Because he lacked proper
shoes for the journey, his feet were bruised and torn; his sickness
worsened; he could hardly move, but still he went on; somehow he reached
the village of Mazra’ih and here, close by the Mansion, he died. His heart
found his Well-Beloved One, when he could bear the separation no more. Let
lovers be warned by his story; let them know how he gambled away his life
in his yearning after the Light of the World. May God give him to drink of
a brimming cup in the everlasting gardens; in the Supreme Assemblage, may
God shed upon his face rays of light. Upon him be the glory of the Lord.
His sanctified tomb is in Mazra’ih, beside Akká. His Eminence Kalím (Mírzá
Músá)

Jináb-i-Mírzá Músá was the true brother of Bahá’u’lláh, and from earliest
childhood he was reared in the sheltering embrace of the Most Great Name.
He drank in the love of God with his mother’s milk; when yet a suckling,
he showed an extraordinary attachment to the Blessed Beauty. At all times
he was the object of Divine grace, favor and loving-kindness. After their
distinguished father died, Mírzá Músá was brought up by Bahá’u’lláh,
growing to maturity in the haven of His care. Day by day, the youth’s
servitude and devotion increased. In all things, he lived according to the
commandments, and he was entirely severed from any thoughts of this world.

Like a bright lamp, he shone out in that Household. He wished neither rank
nor office, and had no worldly aims at all. His one supreme desire was to
serve Bahá’u’lláh, and for this reason he was never separated from his
Brother’s presence. No matter what torments the others inflicted, his
loyalty equaled the cruelty of the rest, for he had drunk the wine of
unadulterated love.

Then the voice was heard, crying out of _Sh_íráz, and from a single
utterance of Bahá’u’lláh’s his heart was filled with light, and from a
single gust that blew over the gardens of faith, he caught the fragrance.
At once, he began to serve the friends. He had an extraordinary attachment
to me, and was at all times concerned for my well-being. In Ṭihrán he
occupied himself day and night with propagating the Faith and gradually
became well known to everyone; habitually he spent his time in the company
of blessed souls.

Bahá’u’lláh then left Ṭihrán, journeying to ‘Iráq, and of His brothers the
two who were in His company were Áqáy-i-Kalím(51) and Mírzá Muḥammad-Qulí.
They turned their faces away from Persia and the Persians, and closed
their eyes to comfort and peace; in the Beloved’s path they chose with all
their hearts to bear whatever calamity should be their lot.

Thus they arrived in ‘Iráq. During the days when Bahá’u’lláh had vanished
from sight, that is, when He was on the journey to Kurdistán, Áqáy-i-Kalím
lived on the edge of an abyss; his life was constantly in danger, and each
day that passed was worse than the one before; still, he bore it all, and
knew no fear. When at last the Blessed Beauty returned out of Kurdistán,
Áqáy-i-Kalím resumed his post by the Holy Threshold, rendering every
service within his power. For this he became known far and wide. At the
time when Bahá’u’lláh left Ba_gh_dád for Constantinople, Áqáy-i-Kalím was
with Him and continued to serve along the way, as he did on the further
journey from Constantinople to Adrianople.

It was during the sojourn in this latter city that he detected from Mírzá
Yaḥyá the odor of rebellion. Day and night he tried to make him mend his
ways, but all to no avail. On the contrary, it was astonishing how, like a
deadly poison, the temptings and satanic suggestions of Siyyid Muḥammad
worked on Mírzá Yaḥyá, so that Áqáy-i-Kalím finally abandoned hope. Even
then he never ceased trying, thinking that somehow, perhaps, he could
still the tempest and rescue Mírzá Yaḥyá from the gulf. His heart was worn
away with despair and grief. He tried everything he knew. At last he had
to admit the truth of these words of Saná’í:

If to the fool my lore you’d bring,
Or think my secrets can be told
To him who is not wise—
Then to the deaf go harp and sing,
Or stand before the blind and hold
A mirror to his eyes.

When all hope was gone, he ended the relationship, saying: “O my brother,
if others are in doubt as to this affair, you and I both know the truth.
Have you forgotten the loving-kindness of Bahá’u’lláh, and how He trained
us both? What care He took with your lessons and your penmanship; how
constantly He saw to your spelling and your composition, and encouraged
you to practice the different calligraphic styles; He even guided your
copy with His own blessed fingers. Who does not know how He showered
favors on you, how He brought you up in the haven of His embrace. Is this
your thanks for all His tenderness—that you plot with Siyyid Muḥammad and
desert the shelter of Bahá’u’lláh? Is this your loyalty? Is this the right
return for all His love?” The words had no effect whatever; on the
contrary, with each passing day, Mírzá Yaḥyá disclosed a greater measure
of his concealed intent. Then at the end, the final rupture took place.

From Adrianople, Áqáy-i-Kalím went on with the convoy of Bahá’u’lláh, to
the fortress of Akká. His name was specifically listed in the Sulṭán’s
decree, and he was condemned to perpetual banishment.(52) He devoted all
his time in the Most Great Prison to serving Bahá’u’lláh, and had the
honor of being continually in his Brother’s presence, also keeping company
with the believers; until at last he left this world of dust and hastened
to the holy world above, dying with lowliness and contrition, as he
supplicated his Lord.

It happened that during the Ba_gh_dád period, the well-known Íl_kh_ání,
son of Músá _Kh_án-i-Qazvíní, received through Siyyid Javád-i-Tabátabá’í
an audience with Bahá’u’lláh. Siyyid Javád on that occasion made a plea in
the Íl_kh_ání’s behalf, saying: “This Íl_kh_ání, ‘Alí-Qulí _Kh_án,
although a sinner and a lifelong creature of his passions, has now
repented. He stands before You with regret as to his former ways, and from
this day forward he will not so much as draw a breath that might be
contrary to Your good pleasure. I beg of You, accept his repentance; make
him the object of Your grace and favor.”

Bahá’u’lláh replied: “Because he has chosen you as intercessor, I will
hide away his sins, and I will take steps to bring him comfort and peace
of mind.”

The Íl_kh_ání had been a man of unlimited wealth, but he had wasted it all
on the desires of the flesh. He was now destitute, to such a point that he
did not even dare to step outside his house, because of the creditors
waiting there to fall upon him. Bahá’u’lláh directed him to go to Umar
Pá_sh_á, the Governor of Damascus, and obtain from him a letter of
recommendation to Constantinople. The Íl_kh_ání complied, and he received
every assistance from the Governor of Ba_gh_dád. After utter despair, he
began to hope again, and left for Constantinople. When he arrived at
Díyárbakr(53) he penned a letter on behalf of two Armenian merchants.
“These two are about to leave for Ba_gh_dád,” his letter said. “They have
shown me every courtesy, and have also asked me for an introduction. I had
no refuge or shelter except Your bounty; thus I beg of You to show them
favor.” The superscription, that is, the address he had written on the
envelope was: “To His Eminence Bahá’u’lláh, Leader of the Bábís.” The
merchants presented this letter to Bahá’u’lláh at the head of the bridge,
and when He inquired about it their reply was: “In Díyárbakr, the
Íl_kh_ání gave us particulars as to this Cause.” Then they accompanied Him
to His house.

When the Blessed Beauty entered the family apartments, Áqáy-i-Kalím was
there to meet Him. Bahá’u’lláh cried out, “Kalím, Kalím! The fame of the
Cause of God has reached as far as Díyárbakr!” And He was smiling,
jubilant.

Mírzá Músá was indeed a true brother to the Blessed Beauty; this is why he
remained steadfast, under all conditions, to the very end. Unto him be
praise and salutations, and the breath of life, and glory; upon him be
mercy and grace.



ḤÁJÍ MUḤAMMAD KHÁN


Another of those who left their homes and came to settle in the
neighborhood of Bahá’u’lláh was Ḥájí Muḥammad _Kh_án. This distinguished
man, a native of Sístán, was a Balú_ch_. When he was very young, he caught
fire and became a mystic—an árif, or adept. As a wandering dervish,
completely selfless, he went out from his home and, following the dervish
rule, traveled about in search of his mur_sh_íd, his perfect leader. For
he yearned, as the Qalandar dervishes would say, to discover that “priest
of the Magi,” or spiritual guide.

Far and wide, he carried on his search. He would speak to everyone he met.
But what he longed for was the sweet scent of the love of God, and this he
was unable to detect in anyone, whether Gnostic or philosopher, or member
of the _Sh_ay_kh_í sect. All he could see in the dervishes was their
tufted beards, and their palms-up religion of beggary. They were
“dervish”—poor in all save God—in name only; all they cared about, it
seemed to him, was whatever came to hand. Nor did he find illumination
among the Illuminati; he heard nothing from them but idle argument. He
observed that their grandiloquence was not eloquence and that their
subtleties were but windy figures of speech. Truth was not there; the core
of inner meaning was absent. For true philosophy is that which produces
rewards of excellence, and among these learned men there was no such fruit
to be found; at the peak of their accomplishment, they became the slaves
of vice, led an unconcerned life and were given over to personal
characteristics that were deserving of blame. To him, of all that
constitutes the high, distinguishing quality of humankind, they were
devoid.

As for the _Sh_ay_kh_í group, their essence was gone, only the dregs
remained; the kernel of them had vanished, leaving the shell behind; most
of their dialectics was lumber and superfluities by now.

Thus at the very moment when he heard the call from the Kingdom of God, he
shouted, “Yea, verily!” and he was off like the desert wind. He traveled
over vast distances, arrived at the Most Great Prison and attained the
presence of Bahá’u’lláh. When his eyes fell upon that bright Countenance
he was instantly enslaved. He returned to Persia so that he could meet
with those people who professed to be following the Path, those friends of
other days who were seeking out the Truth, and deal with them as his
loyalty and duty required.

Both going and returning, the Ḥájí betook himself to each one of his
friends, foregathered with them, and let each one hear the new song from
Heaven. He reached his homeland and set his family’s affairs in order,
providing for all, seeing to the security, happiness and comfort of each
one. After that he bade them all goodby. To his relatives, his wife,
children, kin, he said: “Do not look for me again; do not wait for my
return.”

He took up a staff and wandered away; over the mountains he went, across
the plains, seeking and finding the mystics, his friends. On his first
journey, he went to the late Mírzá Yúsúf _Kh_án (Mustawfíyu’l-Mámalík), in
Ṭihrán. When he had said his say, Yúsúf _Kh_án expressed a wish, and
declared that should it be fulfilled, he would believe; the wish was to be
given a son. Should such a bounty become his, Yúsúf _Kh_án would be won
over. The Ḥájí reported this to Bahá’u’lláh, and received a firm promise
in reply. Accordingly, when the Ḥájí met with Yúsúf _Kh_án on his second
journey, he found him with a child in his arms. “Mírzá,” the Ḥájí cried,
“praise be to God! Your test has demonstrated the Truth. You snared your
bird of joy.” “Yes,” answered Yúsúf _Kh_án, “the proof is clear. I am
convinced. This year, when you go to Bahá’u’lláh, say that I implore His
grace and favor for this child, so that it may be kept safe in the
sheltering care of God.”

Ḥájí Muḥammad then went to the blissful future martyr, the King of
Martyrs, and asked him to intercede, so that he, the Ḥájí, might be
allowed to keep watch at the doorway of Bahá’u’lláh. The King of Martyrs
sent in this request by letter, after which Ḥájí _Kh_án duly arrived at
the Most Great Prison and made his home in the neighborhood of his loving
Friend. He enjoyed this honor for a long time, and later, in the Mazra’ih
garden as well, he was very frequently in Bahá’u’lláh’s presence. After
the Beloved had ascended, Ḥájí _Kh_án remained faithful to the Covenant
and Testament, shunning the hypocrites. At last, when this servant was
absent on the journeys to Europe and America, the Ḥájí made his way to the
travelers’ hospice at the Hazíratu’l-Quds; and here, beside the Shrine of
the Báb, he took his flight to the world above.

May God refresh his spirit with the musk-scented air of the Abhá Paradise,
and the sweet savors of holiness that blow from the highest Heaven. Unto
him be greetings and praise. His bright tomb is in Haifa.



ÁQÁ MUḤAMMAD-IBRÁHÍM AMÍR


Muḥammad-Ibráhím Amír came from Nayríz. He was a blessed person; he was
like a cup filled with the red wine of faith. At the time when he was
first made captive by the tender Loved One, he was in the flower of his
youth. Then he fell a prey to the oppressors, and following the upheaval
in Nayríz and all the suffering, his persecutors laid hold of him. Three
farrá_sh_es pinned his arms and tied his hands behind him; but the Amír by
main strength burst his bonds, snatched a dagger from a farrá_sh_’s belt,
saved himself and ran away to ‘Iráq. There he engaged in writing down the
sacred verses and later won the honor of serving at the Holy Threshold.
Constant and steadfast, he remained on duty day and night. During the
journey from Ba_gh_dád to Constantinople, from there to Adrianople, and
from there to the Most Great Prison, he was always at hand to serve. He
married the handmaid of God, Habíbih, who also served at the Threshold,
and his daughter Badí’ih became the helpmeet of the late Ḥusayn-Áqá
Qahvih-_ch_í.

Thus the Amír was steadfast in service throughout his life; but after the
ascension of Bahá’u’lláh his health steadily declined, and at last he left
this world of dust behind him and hastened away to the unsullied world
above. May God illumine the place where he rests with rays from the
all-highest Realm. Unto him be salutations and praise. His bright shrine
is in Akká.



MÍRZÁ MIHDÍY-I-KÁSHÁNÍ


This honored man, Mírzá Mihdí, was from Ká_sh_án. In early youth, under
his father’s tutelage, he had studied sciences and arts, and had become
skilled in composing both prose and verse, as well as in producing
calligraphy in the style known as _sh_ikastih.(54) He was singled out from
his fellows, head and shoulders above the rest. When still a child, he
learned of the Lord’s Advent, caught fire with love, and became one of
those who “gave their all to purchase Joseph.” He was chief of the
yearning seekers, lord of lovers; eloquently, he began to teach the Faith,
and to prove the validity of the Manifestation.

He made converts; and because he yearned after God, he became a
laughingstock in Ká_sh_án, disparaged by friend and stranger alike,
exposed to the taunts of his faithless companions. One of them said: “He
has lost his mind.” And another: “He is a public disgrace. Fortune has
turned against him. He is done for.” The bullies mocked him, and spared
him nothing. When life became untenable, and open war broke out, he left
his homeland and journeyed to ‘Iráq, the focal center of the new Light,
where he gained the presence of all mankind’s Beloved.

He spent some time here, in the friends’ company, composing verses that
sang the praises of Bahá’u’lláh. Later he was given leave to return home,
and went back to live for a while in Ká_sh_án. But again, he was plagued
by yearning love, and could bear the separation no more. He returned,
therefore, to Ba_gh_dád, bringing with him his respected sister, the third
consort(55) .

Here he remained, under the bountiful protection of Bahá’u’lláh, until the
convoy left ‘Iráq for Constantinople, at which time Mírzá Mihdí was
directed to remain behind and guard the Holy House. Restless, consumed
with longing, he stayed on. When the friends were banished from Ba_gh_dád
to Mosul, he was among the prisoners, a victim along with the others. With
the greatest hardship, he got to Mosul, and here fresh calamities awaited
him; he was ill almost all the time, he was an outcast, and destitute.
Still he endured it for a considerable period, was patient, retained his
dignity, and continually offered thanks. Finally he could bear the absence
of Bahá’u’lláh no longer. He sought permission, was granted leave to come,
and set out for the Most Great Prison.

Because the way was long and hard, and he suffered cruelly on the journey,
when he finally reached the Akká prison he was almost helpless, and worn
to the bone. It was during the time when the Blessed Beauty was imprisoned
within the citadel, at the center of the barracks. Despite the terrible
hardships, Mírzá Mihdí spent some days here, in great joy. To him, the
calamities were favors, the tribulations were Divine Providence, the
chastisement abounding grace; for he was enduring all this on the pathway
of God, and seeking to win His good pleasure. His illness worsened; from
day to day he failed; then at the last, under sheltering grace, he took
his flight to the inexhaustible mercy of the Lord.

This noble personage had been honored among men, but for God’s love he
lost both name and fame. He bore manifold misfortunes with never a
complaint. He was content with God’s decrees, and walked the ways of
resignation. The glance of Bahá’u’lláh’s favor was upon him; he was close
to the Divine Threshold. Thus, from the beginning of his life till the
end, he remained in one and the same inner state: immersed in an ocean of
submission and consent. “O my Lord, take me, take me!” he would cry, until
at last he soared away to the world that no man sees.

May God cause him to inhale the sweet scent of holiness in the highest
Paradise, and refresh him with the crystalline wine cup, tempered at the
camphor fountain.(56) Unto him be salutations and praise. His fragrant
tomb is in Akká.



MISHKÍN-QALAM


Among the exiles, neighbors, and prisoners there was also a second Mír
Imád,(57) the eminent calligrapher, Mi_sh_kín-Qalam.(58) He wielded a
musk-black pen, and his brows shone with faith. He was among the most
noted of mystics, and had a witty and subtle mind. The fame of this
spiritual wayfarer reached out to every land. He was the leading
calligrapher of Persia and well known to all the great; he enjoyed a
special position among the court ministers of Ṭihrán, and with them he was
solidly established.(59) He was famed throughout Asia Minor; his pen was
the wonder of all calligraphers, for he was adept at every calligraphic
style. He was besides, for human virtues, a bright star.

This highly accomplished man first heard of the Cause of God in Iṣfáhán,
and the result was that he set out to find Bahá’u’lláh. He crossed the
great distances, measured out the miles, climbing mountains, passing over
deserts and over the sea, until at last he came to Adrianople. Here he
reached the heights of faith and assurance; here he drank the wine of
certitude. He responded to the summons of God, he attained the presence of
Bahá’u’lláh, he ascended to that apogee where he was received and
accepted. By now he was reeling to and fro like a drunkard in his love for
God, and because of his violent desire and yearning, his mind seemed to
wander. He would be raised up, and then cast down again; he was as one
distracted. He spent some time under the sheltering grace of Bahá’u’lláh,
and every day new blessings were showered upon him. Meanwhile he produced
his splendid calligraphs; he would write out the Most Great Name, Yá
Bahá’u’l-Abhá, O Thou Glory of the All-Glorious, with marvelous skill, in
many different forms, and would send them everywhere.(60)

He was then directed to go on a journey to Constantinople, and set out
with Jináb-i-Sáyyah. When he reached that Great City, the leading Persians
and Turks received him with every honor at first, and they were captivated
by his jet black, calligraphic art. He, however, began boldly and
eloquently to teach the Faith. The Persian ambassador lurked in ambush;
betaking himself to the Sulṭán’s vazírs he slandered Mi_sh_kín-Qalam.
“This man is an agitator,” the ambassador told them, “sent here by
Bahá’u’lláh to stir up trouble and make mischief in this Great City. He
has already won over a large company, and he intends to subdue still more.
These Bahá’ís turned Persia upside down; now they have started in on the
capital of Turkey. The Persian Government put 20,000 of them to the sword,
hoping by this tactic to quench the fires of sedition. You should awaken
to the danger; soon this perverse thing will blaze up here as well. It
will consume the harvest of your life; it will burn up the whole world.
Then you can do nothing, for it will be too late.”

Actually that mild and submissive man, in that throne city of Asia Minor,
was occupied solely with his calligraphy and his worship of God. He was
striving to bring about not sedition but fellowship and peace. He was
seeking to reconcile the followers of different faiths, not to drive them
still further apart. He was of service to strangers and was helping to
educate the native people. He was a refuge to the hapless and a horn of
plenty to the poor. He invited all comers to the oneness of humankind; he
shunned hostility and malice.

The Persian ambassador, however, wielded enormous power, and he had
maintained close ties with the ministers for a very long time. He
prevailed on a number of persons to insinuate themselves into various
gatherings and there to make every kind of false charge against the
believers. Urged on by the oppressors, spies began to surround
Mi_sh_kín-Qalam. Then, as instructed by the ambassador, they carried
reports to the Prime Minister, stating that the individual in question was
stirring up mischief day and night, that he was a trouble maker, a rebel
and a criminal. The result was, they jailed him and they sent him away to
Gallipoli, where he joined our own company of victims. They despatched him
to Cyprus and ourselves to the Akká prison. On the island of Cyprus,
Jináb-i-Mi_sh_kín was held prisoner in the citadel at Famagusta, and in
this city he remained, a captive, from the year 85 till 94.

When Cyprus passed out of Turkish hands, Mi_sh_kín-Qalam was freed and
betook himself to his Well-Beloved in the city of Akká, and here he lived
encompassed by the grace of Bahá’u’lláh, producing his marvelous
calligraphs and sending them about. He was at all times joyous of spirit,
ashine with the love of God, like a candle burning its life away, and he
was a consolation to all the believers.

After the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, Mi_sh_kín-Qalam remained loyal,
solidly established in the Covenant. He stood before the violators like a
brandished sword. He would never go half way with them; he feared no one
but God; not for a moment did he falter, nor ever fail in service.

Following the ascension he made a journey to India, where he associated
with the lovers of truth. He spent some time there, making fresh efforts
every day. When I learned that he was getting helpless, I sent for him at
once and he came back to this Most Great Prison, to the joy of the
believers, who felt blessed to have him here again. He was at all times my
close companion. He had amazing verve, intense love. He was a compendium
of perfections: believing, confident, serene, detached from the world, a
peerless companion, a wit—and his character like a garden in full bloom.
For the love of God, he left all good things behind; he closed his eyes to
success, he wanted neither comfort nor rest, he sought no wealth, he
wished only to be free from the defilement of the world. He had no ties to
this life, but spent his days and nights supplicating and communing with
God. He was always smiling, effervescing; he was spirit personified, love
embodied. For sincerity and loyalty he had no match, nor for patience and
inner calm. He was selflessness itself, living on the breaths of the
spirit.

If he had not been in love with the Blessed Beauty, if he had not set his
heart on the Realm of Glory, every worldly pleasure could have been his.
Wherever he went, his many calligraphic styles were a substantial capital,
and his great accomplishment brought him attention and respect from rich
and poor alike. But he was hopelessly enamored of man’s one true Love, and
thus he was free of all those other bonds, and could float and soar in the
spirit’s endless sky.

Finally, when I was absent, he left this darksome, narrow world and
hastened away to the land of lights. There, in the haven of God’s
boundless mercy, he found infinite rewards. Unto him be praise and
salutations, and the Supreme Companion’s tender grace.



USTÁD ‘ALÍ-AKBAR-I-NAJJÁR


Ustád ‘Alí-Akbar, the Cabinet-Maker,(61) was numbered among the just, a
prince of the righteous. He was one of Persia’s earliest believers and a
leading member of that company. From the beginning of the Cause a trusted
confidant, he loosed his tongue to proclaim the Faith. He informed himself
as to its proofs, and went deep into its Scriptures. He was also a gifted
poet, writing odes in eulogy of Bahá’u’lláh.

Exceptionally skilled in his craft, Ustád produced highly ingenious work,
fashioning carpentry that, for intricacy and precision, resembled mosaic
inlay. He was expert in mathematics as well, solving and explaining
difficult problems.

From Yazd, this revered man traveled to ‘Iráq, where he achieved the honor
of entering the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, and received abundant grace. The
Blessed Beauty showered favors upon Ustád ‘Alí, who entered His presence
almost every day. He was one of those who were exiled from Ba_gh_dád to
Mosul, and he endured severe hardships there. He remained a long time in
Mosul, in extremely straitened circumstances but resigned to the will of
God, always in prayer and supplication, and with a thankful tongue.

Finally he came from Mosul to the Holy Shrine and here by the tomb of
Bahá’u’lláh he would meditate and pray. In the dark of the night, restless
and uneasy, he would lament and cry out; when he was supplicating God his
heart burned within him; his eyes would shed their tears, and he would
lift up his voice and chant. He was completely cut off from this dust
heap, this mortal world. He shunned it, he asked but one thing—to soar
away; and he hoped for the promised recompense to come. He could not bear
for the Light of the World to have disappeared, and what he sought was the
paradise of reunion with Him, and what his eyes hungered to behold was the
glory of the Abhá Realm. At last his prayer was answered and he rose
upward into the world of God, to the gathering-place of the splendors of
the Lord of Lords.

Upon him be God’s benediction and praise, and may God bring him into the
abode of peace, as He has written in His book: “For them is an abode of
peace with their Lord.”(62) “And to those who serve Him, is God full of
kindness.”(63)



SHAYKH ‘ALÍ-AKBAR-I-MAZGÁNÍ


This chief of free souls, of wanderers for the love of God, was only an
infant when, in Mazgán, he was suckled at the breast of grace. He was a
child of the eminent scholar, _Sh_ay_kh_-i-Mazgání; his noble father was
one of the leading citizens of Qamsar, near Ká_sh_án, and for piety,
holiness, and the fear of God he had no peer. This father embodied all the
qualities that are worthy of praise; moreover his ways were pleasing, his
disposition good, he was an excellent companion, and for all these things
he was well known. When he threw off restraint and openly declared himself
a believer, the faithless, whether friend or stranger, turned their backs
on him and began to plot his death. But he continued to further the Cause,
to alert the people’s hearts, and to welcome the newcomers as generously
as ever. Thus in Ká_sh_án the fame of his strong faith reached as high as
the Milky Way. Then the pitiless aggressors rose up, plundered his
possessions and killed him.

‘Alí-Akbar, the son of him who had laid down his life in the pathway of
God, could live in that place no longer. Had he remained, he too, like his
father, would have been put to the sword. He passed some time in ‘Iráq,
and received the honor of being in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. Then he
went back to Persia, but again he longed to look upon Bahá’u’lláh, and
with his wife he set out over the deserts and mountains, sometimes riding,
sometimes on foot, measuring off the miles, passing from one shore to the
other, reaching the Holy Place at last and in the shade of the Divine
Lote-Tree finding safety and peace.

When the beauty of the Desired One had vanished from this world,
‘Alí-Akbar remained loyal to the Covenant and prospered under the grace of
God. By disposition and because of the intense love in his heart, he
yearned to write poetry, to fashion odes and _gh_azáls, but he lacked both
meter and rhyme:

I planned a poem, but my Beloved told me,
“Plan only this, that thine eyes should behold Me.”

With rapturous longing, his heart desired the realms of his compassionate
Lord; consumed by burning love, he left this world at last, and pitched
his tent in the world above. May God send down upon his grave, from the
Kingdom of His forgiveness, a heavy rain(64) of blessings, bestow a great
victory upon him, and grant him mercies, pressed down and running over, in
the retreats of Heaven.



MÍRZÁ MUḤAMMAD, THE SERVANT AT THE TRAVELERS’ HOSPICE


This youth of God was from Iṣfáhán, and from an early age was known to its
leading divines for his excellent mind. He was of gentle birth, his family
was known and respected, and he was an accomplished scholar. He had
profited from philosophy and history alike, from sciences and arts, but he
thirsted after the secret of reality, and longed for knowledge of God. His
feverish thirst was not allayed by the arts and sciences, however limpid
those waters. He kept on seeking, seeking, carrying on debates in
gatherings of learned men until at last he discovered the meaning of his
longing dream, and the enigma, the inviolable secret, lay open before him.
Suddenly he caught the scent of fresh flowers from the gardens of the
splendor of God, and his heart was ashine with a ray from the Sun of
Truth. Whereas before, he was like a fish taken from the water, now he had
come to the wellspring of eternal life; before, he was a questing moth;
now he had found the candle flame. A true seeker after truth, he was
instantly revived by the supreme Glad Tidings; his heart’s eye was
brightened by the new dawn of guidance. So blinding was the fire of Divine
love that he turned his face away from his life, its peace, its blessings,
and set out for the Most Great Prison.

In Iṣfáhán he had enjoyed every comfort, and the world was good to him.
Now his yearning for Bahá’u’lláh freed him from all other bonds. He passed
over the long miles, suffered intense hardships, exchanged a palace for a
prison, and in the Akká fortress assisted the believers and attended upon
and served Bahá’u’lláh. He who had been waited upon, now waited on others;
he who had been the master was now the servant, he who had once been a
leader was now a captive. He had no rest, no leisure, day or night. To the
travelers he was a trusted refuge; to the settlers, a companion without
peer. He served beyond his strength, for he was filled with love of the
friends. The travelers were devoted to him, and the settlers grateful. And
because he was continuously busy, he kept silent at all times.

Then the Supreme Affliction came upon us and the absence of Bahá’u’lláh
was not to be endured. Mírzá Muḥammad could not stay quiet, day or night.
He wasted away, like a candle burning down; from the fiery anguish, his
liver and heart were inflamed, and his body could bear no more. He wept
and supplicated day and night, yearning to soar away to that undiscovered
country. “Lord, free me, free me from this absence,” he would cry, “let me
drink of reunion’s cup, find me a lodging in the shelter of Thy mercy,
Lord of Lords!”

At last he quit this dust heap, the earth, and took his flight to the
world that has no end. May it do him good, that cup brimming with the
grace of God, may he eat with healthy relish of that food which gives life
to heart and soul. May God lead him to that happy journey’s end and grant
him an abundant share in the gifts which shall then be bestowed.(65)



MÍRZÁ MUḤAMMAD-I-VAKÍL


One of the captives who were sent on from Ba_gh_dád to Mosul was Mírzá
Muḥammad-i-Vakíl. This righteous soul was among those who became believers
in Ba_gh_dád. It was there he drank from the cup of resignation to the
will of God and sought his rest in the shade of the celestial Tree. He was
a man high-minded and worthy of trust. He was also an extremely capable
and energetic administrator of important affairs, famous in ‘Iráq for his
wise counsel. After he became a believer, he was distinguished by the
title of Vakíl—deputy. It happened in this way:

There was a notable in Ba_gh_dád by the name of Ḥájí Mírzá Hádí, the
jeweler. He had a distinguished son, Áqá Mírzá Músá, who had received from
Bahá’u’lláh the title “Letter of Eternity.” This son had become a staunch
believer. As for his father, the Ḥájí, he was a princely individual known
for his lavish open-handedness not only in Persia and ‘Iráq but as far
away as India. To begin with he had been a Persian vazír; but when he saw
how the late Fatḥ-‘Alí _Sh_áh eyed worldly riches, particularly the
worldly riches of Persian vazírs, and how he snatched whatever they had
accumulated, and how, not content with confiscating their costly vanities
and lumber, he punished and tortured them right and left, calling it a
legal penalty—the Ḥájí dreaded that he too might be catapulted into the
abyss. He abandoned his position as vazír, and his mansion, and fled to
Ba_gh_dád. Fatḥ-‘Alí _Sh_áh demanded that the Governor of Ba_gh_dád, Dávúd
Pá_sh_á, send him back, but the Pá_sh_á was a man of courage and the Ḥájí
was widely known for his able mind. Accordingly, the Pá_sh_á respected and
helped him and the Ḥájí set up in business as a jeweler. He lived with
pomp and splendor, like a great prince. He was one of the most remarkable
men of his time, for within his palace he carried on a life of
gratification and opulence, but he left his pomp, style and retinue
behind, occupied himself with his business affairs and realized great
profits.

The door of his house was always open. Turks and Persians, neighbors,
strangers from far places, all were his honored guests. Most of Persia’s
great, when they came on pilgrimage to the Holy Shrines, would stop at his
house, where they would find a banquet laid out, and every luxury ready to
hand. The Ḥájí was, indeed, more distinguished than Persia’s Grand Vazír;
he outshone all the vazírs for magnificence, and as the days passed by he
dispensed ever more largesse to all who came and went. He was the pride of
the Persians throughout ‘Iráq, the glory of his fellow nationals. Even on
the Turkish vazírs and ministers and the grandees of Ba_gh_dád he bestowed
gifts and favors; and for intelligence and perceptivity he had no equal.

Because of the Ḥájí’s advancing years, toward the end of his days his
business affairs declined. Still, he made no change in his way of life.
Exactly as before, he continued to live with elegance. The prominent would
borrow heavily from him, and never pay him back. One of them, the mother
of Áqá _Kh_án Maḥallátí, borrowed 100,000 túmans(66) from him and did not
repay one penny, for she died soon after. The Íl-_Kh_án, ‘Alí-Qulí _Kh_án,
was another debtor; another was Sayfu’d-Dawlih, a son of Fatḥ-‘Alí _Sh_áh;
another, Valíyyih, a daughter of Fatḥ-‘Alí _Sh_áh; these are only a few
examples out of many, from among the Turkish amírs and the great of Persia
and ‘Iráq. All these debts remained unpaid and irrecoverable.
Nevertheless, that eminent and princely man continued to live exactly as
before.

Toward the close of his life he conceived a remarkable love for
Bahá’u’lláh, and most humbly, would enter His presence. I remember him
saying one day, to the Blessed Beauty, that in the year 1250 and something
over, Mírzá Mawkab the famed astrologer visited the Shrines. “One day he
said to me,” the Ḥájí continued, “‘Mírzá, I see a strange, a unique
conjunction in the stars. It has never occurred before. It proves that a
momentous event is about to take place, and I am certain that this event
can be nothing less than the Advent of the promised Qá’im.’”

Such was the situation of that illustrious prince when he passed away,
leaving as heirs a son and two daughters. Thinking him to be as wealthy as
ever, the people believed that his heirs would inherit millions, for
everyone knew his way of life. The Persian diplomatic representative, the
latter-day mujtahids, and the faithless judge all sharpened their teeth.
They started a quarrel among the heirs, so that in the resulting turmoil
they themselves would make substantial gains. With this in view they did
whatever they could to ruin the heirs, the idea being to strip the
inheritors bare, while the Persian diplomat, the mujtahids, and the judge
would accumulate the spoils.

Mírzá Músá was a staunch believer; his sisters, however, were from a
different mother, and they knew nothing of the Cause. One day the two
sisters, accompanied by the son-in-law of the late Mírzá Siyyid Riḍá, came
to the house of Bahá’u’lláh. The two sisters entered the family apartments
while the son-in-law settled down in the public reception rooms. The two
girls then said to Bahá’u’lláh: “The Persian envoy, the judge, and the
faithless mujtahids have destroyed us. Toward the close of his life, the
late Ḥájí trusted no one but Yourself. We ourselves have been remiss and
we should have sought Your protection before; in any case we come now to
implore Your pardon and help. Our hope is that You will not send us away
despairing, and that through Your favor and support we shall be saved.
Deign, then, to look into this affair, and to overlook our past mistakes.”

Replying, the Blessed Beauty declared with finality that intervention in
affairs of this kind was abhorrent to Him. They kept on pleading with Him,
however. They remained a whole week in the family apartments, clamoring
every morning and evening for favor and grace. “We will not lift our heads
from off this Threshold,” they said. “We will seek sanctuary here in this
house; we will remain here, by the door of Him Who guards the angels,
until He shall deign to look into our concerns and to save us from our
oppressors.”

Each day, Bahá’u’lláh would counsel them, saying, “Matters of this kind
are in the hands of the mujtahids and the government authorities. We do
not interfere in such affairs.” But they kept on with their importunities,
insisting, imploring, begging for help. It happened that the house of
Bahá’u’lláh was bare of worldly goods, and these ladies, accustomed to the
best of everything, could hardly be satisfied with bread and water. Food
had to be procured for them on credit. Briefly, from every direction,
there were problems.

Finally one day Bahá’u’lláh summoned me to His presence. “These esteemed
ladies,” He said, “with all their exactions, have put Us to considerable
inconvenience. There is no help for it—you will have to see to this case.
But you must solve this entire, complicated matter in a single day.”

The next morning, accompanied by Áqáy-i-Kalím, I went to the house of the
late Ḥájí. We called in appraisers and they collected all the jewels in an
upper apartment; the ledgers and account books having to do with the
properties were placed in a second room; the costly furnishings and art
objects of the house in a third. A number of jewelers then went to work
and set a value on the gems. Other experts appraised the house, the shops,
the gardens, the baths. As soon as they began their work I came out and
posted someone in each room so that the appraisers could duly complete
their tasks. By this time it was nearly noon. We then had luncheon, after
which the appraisers were directed to divide everything into two equal
parts, so that lots could be cast; one part would be that of the
daughters, and one that of the son, Mírzá Músá.(67) I then went to bed,
for I was ill. In the afternoon I rose, had tea, and repaired to the
family apartments of the mansion. Here I observed that the goods had been
divided into three parts. I said to them: “My instructions were that
everything should be divided into two parts. How is it that there are
three?” The heirs and other relatives answered as one: “A third must
certainly be set aside. That is why we have divided everything into three.
One share is for Mírzá Músá, one for the two daughters, and the third we
place at Your disposal; this third is the portion of the deceased and You
are to expend it in any way You see fit.”

Greatly disturbed, we told them, “Such a thing is out of the question.
This you must not require, for it cannot be complied with. We gave our
word to Bahá’u’lláh that not so much as a copper coin would be accepted.”
But they, too, swore upon oath that it must be as they wished, that they
would agree to nothing else. This servant answered: “Let us leave this
matter for the present. Is there any further disagreement among you?”
“Yes,” said Mírzá Músá, “what has become of the money that was left?”
Asked the amount, he answered: “Three hundred thousand túmans.” The
daughters said: “There are two possibilities: either this money is here in
the house, in some coffer, or buried hereabouts—or else it is in other
hands. We will give over the house and all its contents to Mírzá Músá. We
two will leave the house, with nothing but our veils. If anything turns up
we, as of now, freely accord it to him. If the money is elsewhere, it has
no doubt been deposited in someone’s care; and that person, well aware of
the breach of trust, will hardly come forward, deal honorably by us, and
return it—rather, he will make off with it all. Mírzá Músá must establish
a satisfactory proof of what he says; his claim alone is not evidence.”
Mírzá Músá replied: “All the property was in their hands; I knew nothing
of what was going on—I had no hint of it. They did whatever they pleased.”

In short, Mírzá Músá had no clear proof of his claim. He could only ask,
“Is such a thing possible, that the late Ḥájí had no ready funds?” Since
the claim was unsupported, I felt that pursuing it further would lead to a
scandal and produce nothing of value. Accordingly I bade them: “Cast the
lots.” As for the third share, I had them put it in a separate apartment,
close it off, and affix a seal to the door. The key I brought to
Bahá’u’lláh. “The task is done,” I said. “It was accomplished only through
Your confirmations. Otherwise it could not have been completed in a year.
However, a difficulty has arisen.” I described in detail the claim of
Mírzá Músá and the absence of any proof. Then I said, “Mírzá Músá is
heavily in debt. Even should he expend all he has, still he could not pay
off his creditors. It is best, therefore, if You Yourself will accept the
heirs’ request, since they persist in their offer, and bestow that share
on Mírzá Músá. Then he could at least free himself from his debts and
still have something left over.”

On the following day the heirs appeared and implored the Blessed Beauty to
have me accept the third share. “This is out of the question,” He told
them. Then they begged and entreated Him to accept that share Himself and
expend it for charitable purposes of His own choice. He answered: “There
is only one purpose for which I might expend that sum.” They said, “That
is no concern of ours, even if You have it thrown into the sea. We will
not loose our hold from the hem of Your garment and we will not cease our
importunities until You accede to our request.” Then He told them, “I have
now accepted this third share; and I have given it to Mírzá Músá, your
brother, but on the condition that, from this day forward, he will speak
no more of any claim against yourselves.” The heirs were profuse in their
thanks. And so this weighty and difficult case was settled in a single
day. It left no residue of complaints, no uproar, no further quarrels.

Mírzá Músá did his best to urge some of the jewels on me, but I refused.
Finally he requested that I accept a single ring. It was a precious ring,
set with a costly pomegranate ruby, a flawless sphere, and unique. All
around the central stone, it was gemmed with diamonds. This too I refused,
although I had no ‘abá to my back and nothing to wear but a cotton tunic
that bespoke the antiquity of the world, nor did I own a copper coin. As
Háfiz would say: “An empty purse, but in our sleeve a hoard.”

Grateful for the bounty he had received, Mírzá Músá offered Bahá’u’lláh
everything he possessed: orchards, lands, estates—but it was refused. Then
he appointed the ‘ulamás of ‘Iráq to intercede for him. They hastened to
Bahá’u’lláh in a body and begged Him to accept the proffered gifts. He
categorically refused. They respectfully told Him: “Unless You accept, in
a very short time Mírzá Músá will scatter it all to the winds. For his own
good, he should not have access to this wealth.”

Then in his own hand, Mírzá Músá penned deeds of gift, made out according
to each of the five creeds, in Arabic and Persian; two copies he made, and
chose the ‘ulamás as his witnesses. Through certain ‘ulamás of Ba_gh_dád,
among them the famed scholar ‘Abdu’s-Salám Effendi, and the erudite and
widely known Siyyid Dávúd Effendi, he presented the deed of gift to
Bahá’u’lláh. The Blessed Beauty told them: “We are appointing Mírzá Músá
himself as Our deputy.”

After Bahá’u’lláh’s departure for Rumelia, Mírzá Músá, with a promissory
note, purchased from the Government the tithes of Hindíyyih, a district
near Karbilá, and suffered a terrible loss, close to 100,000 túmans. The
Government confiscated his properties and sold them for next to nothing.
When told of the matter, Bahá’u’lláh said, “Do not speak of this, ever
again. Do not so much as utter a word about those estates.” Meanwhile the
exile from Adrianople to Akká took place. Mírzá Muḥammad went to the
Government authorities and said to them: “I am the deputy (vakíl) of
Bahá’u’lláh. These properties do not belong to Mírzá Músá. How is it that
you have taken them over?” But he had no documents to support him, for the
title deeds were in Akká, and on this account the Government rejected his
claim. However, in the process, he became known to all as Mírzá Muḥammad
the Deputy. This is how he received the title.

When we were in Adrianople, Mírzá Músá sent on the ruby ring, through
Siyyid ‘Alí-Akbar, and the Blessed Beauty directed us to accept it. After
we reached Akká the believers fell ill, and lay suffering in their beds. I
sent the ring to India, to one of the friends, asking him to sell it with
all possible speed and forward the proceeds to us in Akká to be expended
on the sick. That blessed individual never sent us a penny. Two years
later he wrote to say that he had sold the ring for twenty-five pounds and
had spent that sum on the pilgrims. This, when the ring was of such great
value. I made no complaint. Rather, I praised God, thanking Him that out
of all that wealth not a fleck of dust had settled on my robe.

Mírzá Muḥammad was taken prisoner and sent away from Ba_gh_dád to Mosul,
where he fell a prey to fearful ills. He had been rich; in God’s path he
was now poor. He had enjoyed his ease and comfort; now, for the love of
God, he suffered pain and toil. He lived on for a time in Mosul,
suppliant, resigned, and lowly. And then, severed from all save God,
irresistibly drawn by the gentle gales of the Lord, he rose out of this
dark world to the land of light. Unto him be salutations and praise. May
God shed down upon him the waters of forgiveness, and open before his
grave the gates of Heaven.



ḤÁJÍ MUḤAMMAD-RIḌÁY-I-SHÍRÁZÍ


Ḥájí Muḥammad-Riḍá came from _Sh_íráz. He was a man spiritually minded,
lowly, contrite, the embodiment of serenity and faith. When the call of
God was lifted up, that needy soul hurried into the shelter of heavenly
grace. As soon as he heard the summons, “Am I not your Lord?” he cried
out: “Yea, verily!”(68) and became as a lamp to the people’s feet.

For a long time he served the Afnán, Ḥájí Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí, and was his
loyal and close companion, trusted in all things. Later, following a
journey to distant countries, he went to the Holy Land, and there in utter
submission and lowliness bowed his head before the Sacred Threshold and
was honored with entering the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, where he drank in
endless bounties from cupped hands. For quite a time he remained there,
attending upon Bahá’u’lláh almost every day, encompassed by holy favor and
grace. He was outstanding as to character, and lived after the
commandments of God: tranquil and long-suffering, in his surrender to
God’s will he was selflessness itself. He had no personal aims whatever,
no feeling of attachment to this fleeting world. His one desire was to
please his Lord, his one hope, to walk the holy path.

He went on, then, to Beirut, serving the honored Afnán in that city. He
spent a long time in this wise, returning again and again to enter the
presence of Bahá’u’lláh and gaze upon that Most Great Beauty. Later, in
Sidon, he fell ill. Unable to make the journey to Akká, in perfect
acquiescence and contentment he ascended to the Abhá Kingdom, and was
plunged in the ocean of lights. By the Supreme Pen, endless bounty was
bestowed upon his memory. He was indeed one of the loyal, the steadfast, a
solid pillar of servitude to Bahá’u’lláh. Many and many a time, from the
lips of the Blessed Beauty, we heard his praise.

Unto him be greetings and praise, and the glory of the All-Glorious. Upon
him be compassion and most great mercy from the Lord of the High Heavens.
His shining grave is in Sidon, near the place called the Station of John
the Holy.



ḤUSAYN EFFENDI TABRÍZÍ


This youth was from Tabríz, and he was filled with the love of God like a
cup flowing and brimming over with red wine. In the flower of his youth he
left Persia and traveled to Greece, making his living as a merchant there;
till a day came when, guided by Divine bounty, he went from Greece to
Smyrna, and there he was given the glad tidings of a new Manifestation on
earth. He shouted aloud, was frenzied, was drunk with the music of the new
message. He escaped from his debits and credits, set out to meet the Lord
of his heart, and entered the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. For some time, a
trusted attendant and companion, he served the Blessed Beauty. He was then
directed to seek a lodging in the city of Haifa.

Here he faithfully waited upon the believers, and his home was a way
station for Bahá’í travelers. He had an excellent disposition, a wonderful
character, and high, spiritual aims. He was friendly with friend and
stranger alike; he was kind to people of every nation and wished them
well.

When the Most Great Light ascended to the Concourse above, Ḥusayn Effendi
remained faithful to Him, steadfast and firm; and as before, he continued
to be a close friend to the friends. Thus he lived for a considerable
period, and felt himself better off than the kings of the earth. He became
the son-in-law of Mírzá Muḥammad-Qulí, brother of the Blessed Beauty, and
remained for a time peaceful and serene. He carefully avoided any occasion
of being seduced into error, for he dreaded that the tempest of
afflictions might mount in fury, surge ever higher, and sweep many a soul
into the fathomless gulf.(69) He would sigh and mourn, for this fear was
with him at all times. At last he could bear the world no longer, and with
his own hands stripped off the garment of life.

Praise be unto him, and salutations, and the mercy of God, and Divine
acceptance. May God pardon him and make him to enter the highest Heaven,
the Paradise that towers above all the rest. His sweet-scented grave is in
Haifa.



JAMSHÍD-I-GURJÍ


Yet another of the emigrants and settlers was the valiant
Jam_sh_íd-i-Gurjí, who came from Georgia, but grew up in the city of
Ká_sh_án. He was a fine youth, faithful, trustworthy, with a high sense of
honor. When he heard of a new Faith dawning, and awoke to the tidings that
on Persia’s horizons the Sun of Truth had risen, he was filled with holy
ecstasy, and he longed and loved. The new fire burned away those veils of
uncertainty and doubt that had closed him round; the light of Truth shed
down its rays, the lamp of guidance burned before him.

He remained in Persia for a time, then left for Rumelia, which was Ottoman
territory, and in the Land of Mystery, Adrianople, won the honor of
entering the presence of Bahá’u’lláh; it was there that his meeting took
place. His joy and fervor were boundless. Later, at Bahá’u’lláh’s command
he made a journey to Constantinople, with Áqá Muḥammad-Báqir and Áqá
‘Abdu’l-_Gh_affár. In that city, the tyrannous imprisoned him and put him
in chains.

The Persian ambassador informed against Jam_sh_íd and Ustád
Muḥammad-‘Alí-i-Dallák as enemy leaders and fighters. Jam_sh_íd he
described as a latter-day Rustam(70) while Muḥammad-‘Alí, according to the
envoy, was a ravening lion. These two respected men were first imprisoned
and caged; then they were sent out of Turkish territory, under guard to
the Persian frontier. They were to be delivered over to the Persian
Government and crucified, and the guards were threatened with terrible
punishments should they once relax their vigilance and let the prisoners
escape. For this reason, at every stopping place the victims were kept in
some almost inaccessible spot. Once they were thrown into a pit, a kind of
well, and suffered agonies all through the night. The next morning
Jam_sh_íd cried out: “O you who oppress us! Are we Joseph the Prophet that
you have thrown us in this well? Remember how He rose out of the well as
high as the full moon? We too walk the pathway of God, we too are down
here for His sake, and we know that these depths are the heights of the
Lord.”

Once arrived at the Persian frontier, Jam_sh_íd and Muḥammad-‘Alí were
handed over to Kurdish chiefs to be sent on to Ṭihrán. The Kurdish chiefs
could see that the prisoners were innocent men, kindly and well-disposed,
who had fallen a prey to their enemies. Instead of dispatching them to the
capital, they set them free. Joyfully, the two hastened away on foot, went
back to Bahá’u’lláh and found a home close by Him in the Most Great
Prison.

Jam_sh_íd spent some time in utter bliss, receiving the grace and favor of
Bahá’u’lláh and ever and again being admitted to His presence. He was
tranquil and at peace. The believers were well-pleased with him, and he
was well-pleased with God. It was in this condition that he hearkened to
the celestial bidding: “O thou soul who art well-assured, return unto thy
Lord, well-pleased with Him, and well-pleasing unto Him.”(71) And to God’s
cry: “Return!” he replied, “Yea, verily!” He rose out of the Most Great
Prison to the highest Heaven; he soared away to a pure and gleaming
Kingdom, out of this world of dust. May God succor him in the celestial
company,(72) bring him into the Paradise of Splendors, and safe in the
Divine gardens, make him to live forevermore.

Salutations be unto him, and praise. His grave, sweet as musk, is in Akká.



ḤÁJÍ JA’FAR-I-TABRÍZÍ AND HIS BROTHERS


There were three brothers, all from Tabríz: Ḥájí Ḥasan, Ḥájí Ja’far, and
Ḥájí Taqí. These three were like eagles soaring; they were three stars of
the Faith, pulsing with the light of the love of God.

Ḥájí Ḥasan was of the earlier day; he had believed from the new Luminary’s
first dawning. He was full of ardor, keen of mind. After his conversion he
traveled everywhere, through the cities and villages of Persia, and his
breath moved the hearts of longing souls. Then he left for ‘Iráq, and on
the Beloved’s first journey, attained His presence there. Once he beheld
that beauteous Light he was carried away to the Kingdom of Splendors; he
was incandescent, he became a thrall of yearning love. At this time he was
directed to go back to Persia. He was a peddler, a vendor of small wares,
and would travel from city to city.

On Bahá’u’lláh’s second journey to ‘Iráq, Ḥájí Ḥasan longed to behold Him
again, and there in Ba_gh_dád was once more bedazzled by His presence.
Every so often he would journey to Persia and then return, his thoughts
centered on teaching and furthering the Cause. His business fell apart.
His merchandise was carried away by thieves, and thus, as he put it, his
load was lifted from him—he was disencumbered. He shunned every worldly
tie. He was held fast as by a magnet; he fell hopelessly, madly in love
with the tender Companion, with Him Who is the Well-Beloved of both
worlds. He was known everywhere for the ecstasy he was in, and experienced
strange states of being; sometimes, with utmost eloquence, he would teach
the Faith, adducing as proofs many a sacred verse and holy tradition, and
bringing sound and reasonable arguments to bear. Then his hearers would
comment on the power of his mind, on his wisdom and his self-possession.
But there were other times when love suddenly flamed within him, and then
he could not remain still for an instant. At those times he would skip,
and dance, or again in a loud voice he would cry out a verse from the
poets, or a song. Toward the end of his days he became a close friend of
Jináb-i-Múníb; the two exchanged many a recondite confidence, and each
carried many a melody in his breast.

On the friends’ final journey he went to Á_dh_irbayján, and there,
throwing caution to the winds, he roared out the Greatest Name: “Yá
Bahá’u’l-Abhá!” The unbelievers there joined forces with his relatives,
and they lured that innocent, that man in his ecstasy, away to a garden.
Here, they first put questions to him and listened to his answers. He
spoke out; he expounded the secret verities of the Faith, and set forth
conclusive proofs that the Advent had indeed come to pass. He recited
verses from the Qur’án, and traditions handed down from the Prophet
Muḥammad and the Holy Imáms. Following that, in a frenzy of love and
longing rapture, he began to sing. It was a _sh_ahnáz melody he sang; the
words were from the poets, to say that the Lord had come. And they killed
him; they shed his blood. They wrenched and hacked his limbs apart and hid
his body underneath the dust.

As for Ḥájí Muḥammad-Ja’far, the gently born, he too, like his brother,
was bewitched by the Blessed Beauty. It was in ‘Iráq that he entered the
presence of the Light of the World, and he too caught fire with Divine
love and was carried away by the gentle gales of God. Like his brother, he
was a vendor of small wares, always on a journey from one place to the
next. When Bahá’u’lláh left Ba_gh_dád for the capital of Islám, Ḥájí
Ja’far was in Persia, and when the Blessed Beauty and His retinue came to
a halt in Adrianople, Ja’far and Ḥájí Taqí, his brother, arrived there
from Á_dh_irbayján. They found a corner somewhere and settled down. Our
oppressors then stretched out arrogant hands to send Bahá’u’lláh forth to
the Most Great Prison, and they forbade the believers to accompany the
true Beloved, for it was their purpose to bring the Blessed Beauty to this
prison with but a few of His people. When Ḥájí Ja’far saw that they had
excluded him from the band of exiles, he seized a razor and slashed his
throat.(73) The crowds expressed their grief and horror and the
authorities then permitted all the believers to leave in company with
Bahá’u’lláh—this because of the blessing that came from Ja’far’s act of
love.

They stitched up his wound but no one thought he would recover. They told
him, “For the time being, you will have to stay where you are. If your
throat heals, you will be sent on, along with your brother. Be sure of
this.” Bahá’u’lláh also directed that this be done. Accordingly, we left
Ja’far in the hospital and went on to the Akká prison. Two months later,
he and his brother Ḥájí Taqí arrived at the fortress, and joined the other
prisoners. The safely delivered Ḥájí grew more loving, more ardent with
every passing day. From dusk till dawn he would stay awake, chanting
prayers, shedding his tears. Then one night he fell from the roof of the
caravanserai and ascended to the Kingdom of miracles and signs.

Ḥájí Taqí, born under a fortunate star, was in every sense a true brother
to Ḥájí Ja’far. He lived in the same spiritual condition, but he was
calmer. After Ḥájí Ja’far’s death, he would stay in one room, all alone.
He was silence itself. He would sit there, all alone, properly and
courteously, even during the night. One midnight he climbed up to the roof
to chant prayers. The next morning they found him where he had fallen, on
the ground by the wall. He was unconscious, and they could not tell
whether this was an accident or whether he had thrown himself down. When
he came to himself he said: “I was weary of this life, and I tried to die.
Not for a moment do I wish to linger in this world. Pray that I may go
on.”

This, then, is the life story of those three brothers. All three were
souls well-assured; all three were pleased, and pleasing unto God.(74)
They were flames; they were captives of the Faith; they were pure and
holy. And therefore, cut off from the world, turning their faces toward
the Most High Kingdom, they ascended. May God wrap them in the garment of
His grace in the realm of forgiveness, and immerse them in the waters of
His mercy forever and ever. Greetings be unto them, and praise.



ḤÁJÍ MÍRZÁ MUḤAMMAD-TAQÍ, THE AFNÁN


Among those souls that are righteous, that are luminous entities and
Divine reflections, was Jináb-i-Muḥammad-Taqí, the Afnán.(75) His title
was Vakílu’d-Dawlih. This eminent Bough was an offshoot of the Holy Tree;
in him an excellent character was allied to a noble lineage. His kinship
was a true kinship. He was among those souls who, after one reading of the
Book of Íqán, became believers, bewitched by the sweet savors of God,
rejoicing at the recital of His verses. His agitation was such that he
cried out, “Lord, Lord, here am I!” Joyously, he left Persia and hurried
away to ‘Iráq. Because he was filled with longing love, he sped over the
mountains and across the desert wastes, not pausing to rest until he came
to Ba_gh_dád.

He entered the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, and achieved acceptance in His
sight. What holy ecstasy he had, what fervor, what detachment from the
world! It was beyond description. His blessed face was so comely, so
luminous that the friends in ‘Iráq gave him a name: they called him “the
Afnán of all delights.” He was truly a blessed soul, a man worthy to be
revered. He never failed in his duty, from the beginning of life till his
last breath. As his days began, he became enamored of the sweet savors of
God, and as they closed, he rendered a supreme service to the Cause of
God. His life was righteous, his speech agreeable, his deeds worthy. Never
did he fail in servitude, in devotion, and he would set about a major
undertaking with alacrity and joy. His life, his behavior, what he did,
what he left undone, his dealings with others—were all a way of teaching
the Faith, and served as an example, an admonishment to the rest.

After he had achieved the honor, in Ba_gh_dád, of meeting Bahá’u’lláh, he
returned to Persia, where he proceeded to teach the Faith with an eloquent
tongue. And this is how to teach: with an eloquent tongue, a ready pen, a
goodly character, pleasing words, and righteous ways and deeds. Even
enemies bore witness to his high-mindedness and his spiritual qualities,
and they would way: “There is none to compare with this man for his words
and acts, his righteousness, trustworthiness, and strong faith; in all
things he is unique; what a pity that he is a Bahá’í!” That is: “What a
pity that he is not as we are, perverse, uncaring, committing sins,
engrossed in sensuality, the creatures of our passions!” Gracious God!
They saw with their own eyes that the moment he learned of the Faith he
was transformed, he was severed from the world, he began to emit rays from
the Sun of Truth; and still, they failed to profit by the example he set.

During his days in Yazd he was, outwardly, engaged in commercial pursuits,
but actually teaching the Faith. His only aim was to exalt the Word of
God, his only wish, to spread the Divine sweet savors, his only thought,
to come nearer and ever nearer to the mansions of the Lord. There was no
remembrance on his lips but the verses of God. He was an embodiment of the
good pleasure of Bahá’u’lláh; a dawning-point of the grace of the Greatest
Name. Many and many a time, Bahá’u’lláh expressed to those about Him, His
extreme satisfaction with the Afnán; and consequently, everyone was
certain that he would in future initiate some highly important task.

After the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, the Afnán, loyal and staunch in the
Covenant, rendered even more services than he had before; this in spite of
many obstacles, and an overwhelming load of work, and an infinite variety
of matters all claiming his attention. He gave up his comfort, his
business, his properties, estates, lands, hastened away to I_sh_qábád and
set about building the Ma_sh_riqu’l-A_dh_kár; this was a service of very
great magnitude, for he thus became the first individual to erect a Bahá’í
House of Worship, the first builder of a House to unify man. With the
believers in I_sh_qábád assisting him, he succeeded in carrying off the
palm. For a long period in I_sh_qábád, he had no rest. Day and night, he
urged the believers on. Then they too exerted their efforts, and made
sacrifices above and beyond their power; and God’s edifice arose, and word
of it spread throughout East and West. The Afnán expended everything he
possessed to rear this building, except for a trifling sum. This is the
way to make a sacrifice. This is what it means to be faithful.

Afterward he journeyed to the Holy Land, and there beside that place where
the chosen angels circle, in the shelter of the Shrine of the Báb, he
passed his days, holy and pure, supplicating and entreating the Lord.
God’s praise was always on his lips, and he chanted prayers with both his
tongue and heart. He was wonderfully spiritual, strangely ashine. He is
one of those souls who, before ever the drumbeat of “Am I not your Lord?”
was sounded, drummed back: “Yea, verily Thou art!”(76) It was in the ‘Iráq
period, during the years between the seventies and the eighties of the
Hijra, that he first caught fire and loved the Light of the World, beheld
the glory dawning in Bahá’u’lláh and witnessed the fulfillment of the
words, “I am He that liveth in the Abhá Realm of Glory!”

The Afnán was an uncommonly happy man. Whenever I was saddened, I would
meet with him, and on the instant, joy would return again. Praise be to
God, at the last, close by the Shrine of the Báb, he hastened away in
light to the Abhá Realm; but the loss of him deeply grieved ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

His bright grave is in Haifa, beside the Hazíratu’l-Quds, near Elijah’s
Cave. A tomb must be erected there, and built solidly and well. May God
shed upon his resting-place rays from the Paradise of Splendors, and lave
that holy dust with the rains that beat down from the retreats of the
Exalted Companion. Upon him be the glory of the All-Glorious.



‘ABDU’LLÁH BAGHDÁDÍ


When he was very young, people thought of ‘Abdu’lláh Ba_gh_dádí as a
libertine, solely devoted to pleasure. He was regarded by all as the sport
of inordinate desires, mired down in his physical passions. But the moment
he became a believer, he was carried away by the sweet savors of God, and
was changed into a new creation. He found himself in a strange rapture,
completely transformed. He had been of the world, now he was of Heaven; he
had lived by the flesh, now he lived by the spirit; he had walked in
darkness; now he walked in light. He had been a slave to his senses, now
he was a thrall of God. He had been clay and earthenware before, now he
was a dear-bought pearl; a dull and lusterless stone before, now a ruby
glowing.

Even among the non-believers, people were astonished at the change. What
could have come over this youth, they wanted to know; how did it happen
that he was suddenly detached from the world, eager and devoted? “He was
tainted, corrupted,” they said; “today he is abstemious and chaste. He was
sunk in his appetites, but is now the soul of purity, living a righteous
life. He has left the world behind him. He has broken up the feast,
dismissed the revelers, and folded the banquet cloth away. His mind is
distracted by love.”

Briefly, he let go his pleasures and possessions, and journeyed to Akká on
foot. His face had turned so bright, his nature so luminous, that it was a
joy to look at him. I used to say: “Áqá ‘Abdu’lláh, what condition are you
in?” And he would answer to this effect: “I was in darkness; now, by the
favor of the Blessed Beauty, I am in light. I was a heap of dust; He
changed me to a fertile field. I was in constant torment; I am now at
peace. I was in love with my chains; He has broken them. I was avid for
this one and that; now I cling to the Lord. I was a bird in a cage; He let
me out. Today, though I live in the desert, and I have the bare ground for
my bed and pillow, it feels like silk. In the old time, my coverlet was
satin, and my soul was on the rack. Now I am homeless, and happy.”

But his burning heart broke when he saw how victimized was Bahá’u’lláh,
how patiently He suffered. ‘Abdu’lláh yearned to die for Him. And thus it
came about that he offered up his life for his tender Companion, and
hastened away, out of this dark world to the country of light. His
luminous grave is in Akká. Upon him be the glory of the All-Glorious; upon
him be mercy, out of the grace of the Lord.



MUḤAMMAD-MUṢṬAFÁ BAGHDÁDÍ


Muḥammad-Muṣṭafá was a blazing light. He was the son of the famous scholar
_Sh_ay_kh_ Muḥammad-i-_Sh_ibl; he lived in ‘Iráq, and from his earliest
youth was clearly unique and beyond compare; wise, brave, deserving in
every way, he was known far and wide. From childhood, guided by his
father, he had lit the light of faith in the chapel of his heart. He had
rid himself of the hindering veils of illusion, gazed about with
perceptive eyes, witnessed great new signs of God and, regardless of the
consequences, had cried aloud: “The earth hath shone out with the light of
her Lord!”(77)

Gracious God! The opposition was powerful, the penalty obvious, the
friends, every one of them, terrified, and off in some corner hiding their
belief; at such a time this intrepid personality boldly went about his
business, and like a man, faced up to every tyrant. The one individual
who, in the year seventy, was famed in ‘Iráq for his love of Bahá’u’lláh,
was this honored person. A few other souls, then in Ba_gh_dád and its
environs, had crept away into nooks and crannies and, imprisoned in their
own lethargy, there they remained. But this admirable Muḥammad-Muṣṭafá
would boldly, proudly come and go like a man, and the hostile, because of
his physical strength and his courage, were afraid to attack him.

After Bahá’u’lláh’s return from His journey to Kurdistán, the virile
strength and bearing of that gallant individual was still further
enhanced. Whenever leave was granted, he would attend upon Bahá’u’lláh,
and would hear from His lips expressions of favor and grace. He was the
leader, among all the friends in ‘Iráq, and after the great separation,
when the convoy of the Beloved left for Constantinople, he remained loyal
and staunch, and withstood the foe. He girded himself for service and
openly, publicly, observed by all, taught the Faith.

As soon as Bahá’u’lláh’s declaration that He was “He Whom God Shall
Manifest”(78) had become known far and wide, Muḥammad-Muṣṭafá—being among
those souls who had become believers prior to this Declaration, and before
the call was raised—cried out: “Verily, we believe!” Because, even before
this Declaration, the very light itself pierced through the veils that had
closed off the peoples of the world, so that every seeing eye beheld the
splendor, and every longing soul could look upon its Well-Beloved.

With all his strength, then, Muḥammad-Muṣṭafá arose to serve the Cause. He
rested neither day nor night. After the Ancient Beauty had departed to the
Most Great Prison; after the friends had been taken prisoner in Ba_gh_dád
and sent away to Mosul; after the hostility of outstanding enemies and the
opposition of the populace of Ba_gh_dád, he did not falter, but continued
to stand his ground. A long time passed in this way. But with his yearning
for Bahá’u’lláh, the tumult in his heart was such that he set out alone
for the Most Great Prison. He reached there during the period of extreme
restrictions, and had the honor of entering the presence of Bahá’u’lláh.

He asked then for leave to find a lodging somewhere in the neighborhood of
Akká, and was permitted to reside in Beirut. There he went and faithfully
served the Cause, assisting all the pilgrims as they arrived and departed.
He was an excellent servitor, a generous and kindly host, and he
sacrificed himself to see to their affairs as they passed through. For all
this he became known everywhere.

When the Sun of Truth had set and the Light of the Concourse on high had
ascended, Muḥammad-Muṣṭafá remained loyal to the Covenant. He stood so
firm against the waverers that they dared not draw a breath. He was like a
shooting star, a missile hurled against the demons;(79) against the
violators, an avenging sword. Not one of the violators so much as dared
pass through the street where he lived and if they chanced to meet him
they were like those described in the Qur’án: “deaf, dumb, blind:
therefore they shall not retrace their steps from error!”(80) He was the
very embodiment of: “The blame of the blamer shall not deflect him from
the path of God, and the terrible might of the reviler shall not shake
him.”

Living in the same manner as before, he served the believers with a free
mind and pure intent. With all his heart, he assisted the travelers to the
Holy Land, those who had come to circumambulate that place which is ringed
around by the Company on high. Later he moved from Beirut to Iskandarún,
and there he spent some time, until, drawn as if by a magnet to the Lord,
detached from all save Him, rejoicing in His glad tidings, holding fast to
the cord that none can sever—he ascended on the wings of the spirit to his
Exalted Companion.

May God lift him up to the highest Heaven, to the fellowship of glory.(81)
May God bring him into the land of lights, the mysterious Kingdom, the
assemblage of the splendors of the mighty, all powerful Lord. Upon him be
the glory of the All-Glorious.



SULAYMÁN KHÁN-I-TUNÚKÁBÁNÍ


Sulaymán _Kh_án was the emigrant and settler who was given the title of
Jamálí’d-Dín. He was born in Tunúkábán, into an old family of that region.
He was cradled in wealth, bred to ease, reared in the comfortable ways of
luxury. From his early childhood he had high ambitions and noble aims, and
he was honor and aspiration personified. At first he planned to
outdistance all his fellows and achieve some lofty rank. For this reason
he left his birthplace and went to the capital, Ṭihrán, where he hoped to
become a leader, surpassing the rest of his generation.

In Ṭihrán, however, the fragrance of God was borne his way, and he
listened to the summons of the Well-Beloved. He was saved from the
perturbations of high rank; from all the din and clatter, the glory, the
pomps and palaces, of this heap of dust, the world. He threw off his
chains, and by God’s grace, discovered peace. To him, the seat of honor
was now no different from the place where people removed their slippers at
the door, and high office was a thing soon gone and forgotten. He was
cleansed from the stain of living, his heart was eased, for he had burst
the shackles that held him to this present life.

Putting on the garments of a pilgrim, he set out to find his loving
Friend, and came to the Most Great Prison. Here for a time he rested,
under the protection of the Ancient Beauty; here he gained the honor of
entering the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, and listened to momentous teachings
from His holy lips. When he had breathed the scented air, when his eyes
were illumined and his ears attuned to the words of the Lord, he was
permitted to make a journey to India, and bidden to teach the true seekers
after truth.

Resting his heart on God, in love with the sweet savors of God, on fire
with the love of God, he left for India. There he wandered, and whenever
he came to a city he raised the call of the Great Kingdom and delivered
the good news that the Speaker of the Mount had come. He became one of
God’s farmers, scattering the holy seed of the Teachings. This sowing was
fruitful. Through him a considerable number found their way into the Ark
of Salvation. The light of Divine guidance was shed upon those souls, and
their eyes were brightened with beholding the mighty signs of God. He
became the focal point of every gathering, the honored guest. To this day,
in India, the results of his auspicious presence are clear to see, and
those whom he taught are now, in their turn, guiding others to the Faith.

Following his Indian journey, Sulaymán _Kh_án came back to Bahá’u’lláh,
but when he arrived, the ascension had taken place. Continuously, he shed
his tears, and his heart was a thurible for sorrow. But he remained loyal
to the Covenant, well rooted in Heaven.

Not long before His passing, Bahá’u’lláh had said: “Should someone go to
Persia, and manage to convey it, this message must be delivered to
Amínu’s-Sultán:(82) ‘You took steps to help the prisoners; you freely
rendered them a befitting service; this service will not be forgotten.
Rest assured that it will bring you honor and call down a blessing upon
all your affairs. O Amínu’s-Sultán! Every house that is raised up will one
day fall to ruin, except the house of God; that will grow more massive and
be better guarded day by day. Then serve the Court of God with all your
might, that you may discover the way to a home in Heaven, and found an
edifice that will endure forever.’” After the departure of Bahá’u’lláh,
this message was conveyed to Amínu’s-Sultán.

In Á_dh_irbayján the Turkish clerics had brought down Áqá Siyyid
Asadu’lláh, hunted him down in Ardabíl and plotted to shed his blood; but
the Governor, by a ruse, managed to save him from being physically beaten
and then murdered: he sent the victim to Tabríz in chains, and from there
had him conducted to Ṭihrán. Amínu’s-Sultán came to the prisoner’s
assistance and, in his own office, provided Asadu’lláh with a sanctuary.
One day when the Prime Minister was ill, Náṣiri’d-Dín _Sh_áh arrived to
visit him. The Minister then explained the situation, and lavished praise
upon his captive; so much so that the _Sh_áh, as he left, showed great
kindness to Asadu’lláh, and spoke words of consolation. This, when at an
earlier time, the captive would have been strung up at once to adorn some
gallows-tree, and shot down with a gun.

After a time Amínu’s-Sultán lost the Sovereign’s favor. Hated, in
disgrace, he was banished to the city of Qum. Thereupon this servant
dispatched Sulaymán _Kh_án to Persia, carrying a prayer and a missive
written by me. The prayer besought God’s aid and bounty and succor for the
fallen Minister, so that he might, from that corner of oblivion, be
recalled to favor. In the letter we clearly stated: “Prepare to return to
Ṭihrán. Soon will God’s help arrive; the light of grace will shine on you
again; with full authority again, you will find yourself free, and Prime
Minister. This is your reward for the efforts you exerted on behalf of a
man who was oppressed.” That letter and that prayer are today in the
possession of the family of Amínu’s-Sultán.

From Ṭihrán, Sulaymán _Kh_án journeyed to Qum, and according to his
instructions went to live in a cell in the shrine of the Immaculate.(83)
The relatives of Amínu’s-Sultán came to visit there; Sulaymán _Kh_án
inquired after the fallen Minister and expressed the wish to meet him.
When the Minister learned of this, he sent for Sulaymán _Kh_án. Placing
all his trust in God, Sulaymán _Kh_án hastened to the Minister’s house
and, meeting him in private, presented the letter from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The
Minister rose, and received the letter with extreme respect. Then
addressing the _Kh_án he said: “I had given up hope. If this longing is
fulfilled, I will arise to serve; I will preserve and uphold the friends
of God.” Then he expressed his gratitude, indebtedness and joy, and added,
“Praise be to God, I hope again; I feel that by His aid, my dream will
come true.”

In brief, the Minister pledged himself to serve the friends, and Sulaymán
_Kh_án took his leave. The Minister then desired to give him a sum of
money to defray the expenses of his journey, but Sulaymán _Kh_án refused,
and despite the Minister’s insistence, would accept nothing. The _Kh_án
had not yet reached the Holy Land on his return journey when
Amínu’s-Sultán was recalled from exile and immediately summoned to the
Premiership again. He assumed the position and functioned with full
authority; and at first he did indeed support the believers, but toward
the end, in the case of the Yazd martyrdoms, he was neglectful. He neither
helped nor protected the sufferers in any way, nor would he listen to
their repeated pleas, until all of them were put to death. Accordingly he
too was dismissed, a ruined man; that flag which had flown so proudly was
reversed, and that hoping heart despaired.

Sulaymán _Kh_án lived on in the Holy Land, near the Shrine which the
Exalted Assembly circle about. He kept company with the believers until
the day of inescapable death, when he set out for the mansions of Him Who
liveth, and dieth not. He turned his back on this heap of dust, the world,
and hurried away to the country of light. He broke out of this cage of
contingent being and soared into the endless, placeless Realm. May God
enfold him in the waters of His mercy, cause His forgiveness to rain down
upon him, and bestow on him the wonders of abounding grace. Salutations be
unto him, and praise.



‘ABDU’R-RAHMÁN, THE COPPERSMITH


This was a patient and long-enduring man, a native of Ká_sh_án. He was one
of the very earliest believers. The down was not yet upon his cheek when
he drank of the love of God, saw with his own eyes the heavenly table
spread out before him, and received his faith and his portion of abounding
grace.

In a little while he left his home and set out for the rose garden that
was Ba_gh_dád, where he achieved the honor of entering the presence of
Bahá’u’lláh. He spent some time in ‘Iráq, and won a crown of endless
favor: he would enter the presence of Bahá’u’lláh and many a time would
accompany Him on foot to the Shrine of the Two Kázims; this was his great
delight.

‘Abdu’r-Rahmán was among the prisoners exiled to Mosul, and later he
fairly dragged himself to the fortress at Akká. Here he lived, blessed by
Bahá’u’lláh. He carried on a small business, trifling, but he was content
with it, happy and at peace. Thus, walking the path of righteousness, he
lived to be eighty years old, at which time, serenely patient, he soared
away to the Threshold of God. May the Lord enfold him there with His
bounty and compassion, and clothe him in the garment of forgiveness. His
luminous grave is in Akká.



MUḤAMMAD-IBRÁHÍM-I-TABRÍZÍ


This man, noble and high-minded, was the son of the respected
‘Abdu’l-Faṭṭaḥ who was in the Akká prison. Learning that his father was a
captive there, he came with all speed to the fortress so that he too might
have a share of those dire afflictions. He was a man wise, understanding,
in a tumult from drinking the wine of the love of God, but with a
wonderful, basic serenity and calm.

He had inherited the nature of his father, and he exemplified the saying
that the child is the secret essence of its sire. For this reason, over a
long period, he found delight in the neighborhood of the Divine Presence,
enjoying utter peace. Daytimes, he would carry on his trade, and at night
he would come in all haste to the door of the house, to be with the
friends. He was close to all those who were staunch and true; he was full
of courage; he was grateful to God, abstemious and chaste, expectant of
and relying on the bounty and grace of the Lord. He made his father’s lamp
to shine, brightened the household of ‘Abdu’l-Faṭṭaḥ, and left descendants
to remain behind him in this swiftly passing world.

He always did what he could to provide for the happiness of the believers;
he always saw to their well-being. He was sagacious, grave, and steadfast.
By God’s grace, he stayed loyal to the end, and sound in faith. May God
give him to drink from the cup of forgiveness; may he sip from the spring
of God’s bounty and good pleasure; may God raise him up to the heights of
Divine bestowal. His sweet-scented tomb is in Akká.



MUḤAMMAD-‘ALÍY-I-ARDIKÁNÍ


In the flower of tender youth, Muḥammad-‘Alí, the illumined, heard the cry
of God, and lost his heart to heavenly grace. He entered the service of
the Afnán, offshoot of the Holy Tree, and lived happy and content. This
was how he came to the city of Akká, and was for quite a time present at
the Sacred Threshold, winning a crown of lasting glory. The eye of
Bahá’u’lláh’s grace and favor was upon him. He served with a loyal heart.
He had a happy nature, a comely face; he was a man believing, seeking,
tested and tried.

During the days of Bahá’u’lláh, Muḥammad-‘Alí remained steadfast, and
after the Supreme Affliction his heart did not fail him, for he had drunk
the wine of the Covenant and his thoughts were fixed on the bounties of
God. He moved to Haifa and lived, a firm believer, near the
Hazíratu’l-Quds by the Holy Shrine on Mount Carmel till his final breath,
when death came and the carpet of his earthly life was rolled up and put
away.

This man was a true servant of the Threshold, a good friend to the
believers. All were pleased with him, finding him an excellent companion,
gentle and mild. May God succor him in His exalted Kingdom, and give him a
home in the Abhá Realm, and send upon him abounding grace from the gardens
of Heaven—the place of meeting, the place of the mystical contemplation of
God. His amber-scented dust is in Haifa.



ḤÁJÍ ÁQÁY-I-TABRÍZÍ


Early in his youth this spiritual man, who came from Tabríz, had sensed
the mystic knowledge and drunk the heady wine of God, and he remained
staunch as ever in the Faith during his years of helpless age.

He lived for a time in Á_dh_irbayján, enamored of the Lord. When he became
widely known thereabouts as one bearing the name of God, the people ruined
his life. His relatives and friends turned against him, finding a new
excuse to hound him with every passing day. Finally he broke up his home,
took his family and fled to Adrianople. He reached there during the close
of the Adrianople period and was taken prisoner by the oppressors.

Along with us homeless wanderers, and under the protection of the Ancient
Beauty, he came to the Most Great Prison and was a confidant and
companion, sharing with us the calamities and tribulations, humble and
long-enduring. Afterward, when the restrictions were somewhat relaxed, he
engaged in trade, and through the bounty of Bahá’u’lláh was comfortable
and at peace. But his body had become enfeebled from the earlier
hardships, and all the suffering, and his faculties had deteriorated; so
that ultimately he fell ill, beyond hope of a remedy; and not far from
Bahá’u’lláh, and shadowed by His protection, he hastened away from this
least of worlds to the high Heavens, from this dark place to the land of
lights. May God immerse him in the waters of forgiveness; may He bring him
into the gardens of Paradise, and there keep him safe forevermore. His
pure dust rests in Akká.



QULÁM-‘ALÍY-I-NAJJÁR


This man, a carpenter and a master craftsman, came from Ká_sh_án. For
faith and certitude, he was like a sword drawn from the scabbard. He was
well known in his own city as a man righteous, true and worthy of trust.
He was high-minded, abstemious and chaste. When he became a believer, his
urgent longing to meet Bahá’u’lláh could not be stilled; full of joyous
love, he went out of the Land of Káf (Ká_sh_án) and traveled to ‘Iráq,
where he beheld the splendor of the rising Sun.

He was a mild man, patient, quiet, mostly keeping to himself. In
Ba_gh_dád, he worked at his craft, was in touch with the friends, and
sustained by the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. For some time he lived in utter
happiness and peace. Then those who had been taken prisoner were sent away
to Mosul, and he was among the victims and like them exposed to the wrath
of the oppressors. He remained in captivity for quite a while and when
freed came to Akká. Here too he was a friend to the prisoners and in the
Fortress he continued to practice his skill. As usual he was inclined to
solitude, apt to stay apart from friend and stranger alike, and much of
the time lived by himself.

Then the supreme ordeal, the great desolation, came upon us. Qulám-‘Alí
took on the carpentry work of the Holy Tomb, exerting all his sure powers.
To this day, the glass roof which is over the inner courtyard of the
Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh remains as the product of his skill. He was a man
crystal clear of heart. His face shone; his inner condition was constant;
at no time was he changeable or unstable. He was staunch, loving, and true
till his last breath.

After some years in this neighborhood, he rose upward to the neighborhood
of the all-embracing mercy of God, and became a friend to those who dwell
in the high Heavens. He had the honor of meeting Bahá’u’lláh in both
worlds. This is the most precious bestowal, the costliest of all gifts. To
him be salutations and praise. His bright grave is in Akká. Jináb-i-Múníb,
upon him be the Glory of the All-Glorious

His name was Mírzá Áqá and he was spirit itself. He came from Ká_sh_án. In
the days of the Báb, he was drawn to the sweet savors of God; it was then
he caught fire. He was a fine youth, handsome, full of charm and grace. He
was a calligrapher second to none, a poet, and he had as well a remarkable
singing voice. He was wise and perceptive; staunch in the Faith of God; a
flame of God’s love, severed from all but God.

During the years when Bahá’u’lláh resided in ‘Iráq, Jináb-i-Múníb left
Ká_sh_án and hastened to His presence. He went to live in a small and
humble house, barely managed to subsist, and set about committing to
writing the words of God. On his brow, the bestowals of the Manifestation
were clear to see. In all this mortal world he had only one possession,
his daughter; and even his daughter he had left behind in Persia, as he
hurried away to ‘Iráq.

At the time when, with all pomp and ceremony, Bahá’u’lláh and His retinue
departed from Ba_gh_dád, Jináb-i-Múníb accompanied the party on foot. The
young man had been known in Persia for his easy and agreeable life and his
love of pleasure; also for being somewhat soft and delicate, and used to
having his own way. It is obvious what a person of this type endured,
going on foot from Ba_gh_dád to Constantinople. Still, he gladly measured
out the desert miles, and he spent his days and nights chanting prayers,
communing with God and calling upon Him.

He was a close companion of mine on that journey. There were nights when
we would walk, one to either side of the howdah of Bahá’u’lláh, and the
joy we had defies description. Some of those nights he would sing poems;
among them he would chant the odes of Háfiz, like the one that begins,
“Come, let us scatter these roses, let us pour out this wine,”(84) and
that other:

To our King though we bow the knee,
We are kings of the morning star.
No changeable colors have we—
Red lions, black dragons we are!

The Blessed Beauty, at the time of His departure from Constantinople,
directed Jináb-i-Múníb to return to Persia and promulgate the Faith.
Accordingly he went back, and over a considerable period he rendered
outstanding services, especially in Ṭihrán. Then he came again, from
Persia to Adrianople, and entered the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, enjoying
the privilege of attending upon Him. At the time of the greatest
catastrophe, that is, the exile to Akká, he was made a prisoner on this
Pathway and traveled, by now feeble and ill, with the party of
Bahá’u’lláh.

He had been stricken by a severe ailment and was pitifully weak. Still, he
would not agree to remaining behind in Adrianople where he could receive
treatment, because he wanted to sacrifice his life and fall at the feet of
his Lord. We journeyed along till we reached the sea. He was now so feeble
that it took three men to lift him and carry him onto the ship. Once he
was on board, his condition grew so much worse that the captain insisted
we put him off the ship, but because of our repeated pleas he waited till
we reached Smyrna. In Smyrna, the captain addressed Colonel Umar Bayk, the
government agent who accompanied us, and told him: “If you don’t put him
ashore, I will do it by force, because the ship will not accept passengers
in this condition.”

We were compelled, then, to take Jináb-i-Múníb to the hospital at Smyrna.
Weak as he was, unable to utter a word, he dragged himself to Bahá’u’lláh,
lay down at His feet, and wept. On the countenance of Bahá’u’lláh as well,
there was intense pain.

We carried Jináb-i-Múníb to the hospital, but the functionaries allowed us
not more than one hour’s time. We laid him down on the bed; we laid his
fair head on the pillow; we held him and kissed him many times. Then they
forced us away. It is clear how we felt. Whenever I think of that moment,
the tears come; my heart is heavy and I summon up the remembrance of what
he was. A great man; infinitely wise, he was, steadfast, modest and grave;
and there was no one like him for faith and certitude. In him the inner
and outer perfections, the spiritual and physical, were joined together.
That is why he could receive endless bounty and grace.

His grave is in Smyrna, but it is off by itself, and deserted. Whenever
this can be done, the friends must search for it, and that neglected dust
must be changed into a much-frequented shrine,(85) so that pilgrims who
visit there may breathe in the sweet scent of his last resting-place.



MÍRZÁ MUṢṬAFÁ NARÁQÍ


Among that company of pure and goodly souls was Mírzá Muṣṭafá, a leading
citizen of Naráq and one of the earliest believers. His face shone with
the love of God. His mind was concerned with the anemones of mystic
meanings, fair as meadows and beds of flowers.

It was in the days of the Báb that he first set his lips to the
intoxicating cup of spiritual truth, and he had a strange tumult in his
brain, a fierce yearning in his heart. In the path of God he threw down
whatever he possessed; he gambled everything away, gave up his home, his
kin, his physical well-being, his peace of mind. Like a fish on the sand,
he struggled to reach the water of life. He came to ‘Iráq, joined the
friends of his soul, and entered the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. For some
time he lived there, joyful and content, receiving endless bounty. Then he
was sent back to Persia, where, to the utmost of his capacity, he served
the Faith. He was a whole and accomplished man, staunch, firmly rooted as
the hills; sound, and worthy of trust. To him, in all that turmoil and
panic, the wild dogs howling were only buzzing flies; tests and trials
rested his mind; when cast into the fire of afflictions that broke out, he
proved to be shining gold.

On the day when the convoy of Bahá’u’lláh was leaving Constantinople for
Adrianople, Mírzá Muṣṭafá arrived from Persia. There was no opportunity
for him to reach Bahá’u’lláh except once; and he was thereupon directed to
return to Persia. At such a moment he had the honor of being received.

When Mírzá Muṣṭafá reached Á_dh_irbayján, he began to spread the Faith.
Day and night he remained in a state of prayer, and there in Tabríz he
drank of a brimming cup. His fervor increased, his teaching raised a
tumult. Then the eminent scholar, the renowned _Sh_ay_kh_
Aḥmad-i-_Kh_urásání, came to Á_dh_irbayján and the two of them joined
forces. The result was such overwhelming spiritual fire that they taught
the Faith openly and publicly and the people of Tabríz rose up in wrath.

The farrá_sh_es hunted them down, and caught Mírzá Muṣṭafá. But then the
oppressors said, “Mírzá Muṣṭafá had two long locks of hair. This cannot be
the right man.” At once, Mírzá Muṣṭafá took off his hat and down fell the
locks of hair. “Behold!” he told them. “I am the one.” They arrested him
then. They tortured him and _Sh_ay_kh_ Aḥmad until finally, in Tabríz,
those two great men drained the cup of death and, martyred, hastened away
to the Supreme Horizon.

At the place where they were to be killed, Mírzá Muṣṭafá cried out: “Kill
me first, kill me before _Sh_ay_kh_ Aḥmad, that I may not see them shed
his blood!”

Their greatness has been recorded for all time in the Writings of
Bahá’u’lláh. They received many a Tablet from Him, and after their death
He set down, with His exalted pen, the anguish they endured.

From youth till old age, this illustrious man, Mírzá Muṣṭafá, devoted his
entire life to service on the pathway of God. Today he dwells in the
all-glorious Realm, in the neighborhood of the ineffable mercy of God, and
he rejoices with exceeding gladness, and he celebrates the praise of his
Lord. Blessedness be his, and a goodly home.(86) To him be tidings of
great joy, from the Lord of Lords. May God grant him an exalted station,
in that high Company.



ZAYNU’L-MUQARRABÍN


This distinguished man was one of the greatest of all the Báb’s companions
and all the loved ones of Bahá’u’lláh. When he lived under Islám, he was
already famed for his purity and holiness of life. He was talented and
highly accomplished in many directions. He was the leader and spiritual
exemplar of the entire population of Najaf-Ábád, and the eminent of that
area showed him unbounded respect. When he spoke out, his was the deciding
opinion; when he passed judgment, it took effect; for he was known to all
as the standard, and the authority of last resort.

He had no sooner learned of the Báb’s Declaration than he cried out from
the depths of his heart, “O our Lord! we have indeed heard the voice of
one that called. He called us to the Faith—‘Believe ye on your Lord’—and
we have believed.”(87) He rid himself of all impeding veils; his doubts
dispelled, he began to extol and glorify the Beauty promised from of old.
In his own home, and at Iṣfáhán, he became notorious for declaring far and
wide that the advent of the long-desired One had come to pass. By the
hypocrites, he was mocked, cursed and tormented. As for the people, “the
mass, as a snake in the grass,” who had worshiped him before, now rose up
to do him harm. Every day brought on a fresh cruelty, a new torment from
his oppressors. He endured it all, and went on teaching with great
eloquence. He remained staunch, unmoved, as their wrath increased. In his
hands he held out a full cup of Divine glad tidings, offering to all who
came that heady draught of the knowledge of God. He was utterly without
fear, knew nothing of danger, and swiftly followed the holy path of the
Lord.

After the attempt on the _Sh_áh, however, there was no shelter anywhere;
no evening, no morning, without intense affliction. And since his staying
on in Najaf-Ábád at such a time was a great danger to the believers, he
left there and traveled to ‘Iráq. It was during the period when the
Blessed Beauty was in Kurdistán, when He had gone into seclusion and was
living in the cave on Sar-Galú, that Jináb-i-Zayn arrived in Ba_gh_dád.
But his hopes were dashed, his heart grieved, for all was silence: there
was no word of the Cause of God, no name nor fame of it; there were no
gatherings, no call was being raised. Yaḥyá, terror stricken, had vanished
into some dark hiding place. Torpid, flaccid, he had made himself
invisible. Try as he might, Jináb-i-Zayn could find not one soul. He met
on a single occasion with His Eminence Kalím. But it was a period when
great caution was being exercised by the believers, and he went on to
Karbilá. He spent some time there, and occupied himself with copying out
the Writings, after which he returned home to Najaf-Ábád. Here the foul
persecutions and attacks of his relentless enemies could hardly be
endured.

But when the Trump had been sounded a second time,(88) he was restored to
life. To the tidings of Bahá’u’lláh’s advent his soul replied; to the drum
beat, “Am I not your Lord?” his heart drummed back: “Yea, verily!”(89)
Eloquently, he taught again, using both rational and historical proofs to
establish that He Whom God Shall Manifest—the Promised One of the Báb—had
indeed appeared. He was like refreshing waters to those who thirsted, and
to seekers, a clear answer from the Concourse on high. In his writing and
speaking, he was first among the righteous, in his elucidations and
commentaries a mighty sign of God.

In Persia his life was in imminent peril; and since remaining at
Najaf-Ábád would have stirred up the agitators and brought on riots, he
hastened away to Adrianople, seeking sanctuary with God, and crying out as
he went, “Lord, Lord, here am I!” Wearing the lover’s pilgrim dress, he
reached the Mecca of his longing. For some time he tarried there, in the
presence of Bahá’u’lláh, after which he was commanded to leave, with
Jináb-i-Mírzá Ja’far-i-Yazdí, and promulgate the Faith. He returned to
Persia and began to teach most eloquently, so that the glad tidings of the
Lord’s advent resounded to the high heavens. In the company of Mírzá
Ja’far he traveled everywhere, through cities flourishing and ruined,
spreading the good news that the Blessed Beauty was now manifest.

Once again, he returned to ‘Iráq, where he was the center of every
gathering, and rejoiced his hearers. At all times, he gave wise counsel;
at all times he was consumed with the love of God.

When the believers were taken prisoner in ‘Iráq and banished to Mosul,
Jináb-i-Zayn became their chief. He remained for some time in Mosul, a
consolation to the rest, working to solve their many problems. He would
kindle love in people’s hearts, and make them kind to one another. Later
he asked for permission to attend upon Bahá’u’lláh; when this was granted
he arrived at the Prison and had the honor of entering the presence of his
Well-Beloved. He then busied himself with writing down the sacred verses,
and encouraging the friends. He was love itself to the emigrants, and
warmed the travelers’ hearts. He never rested for a moment, and received
new grace and bounty every day, meanwhile taking down the Bahá’í
Scriptures with faultless care.

From his early years till his last breath, this eminent man never failed
in service to the Manifestation. After the ascension he was consumed with
such grieving, such constant tears and anguish, that as the days passed
by, he wasted away. He remained faithful to the Covenant, and was a close
companion to this servant of the Light of the World, but he longed to rise
out of this life, and awaited his departure from day to day. At last,
serene and happy, rejoicing in the tidings of the Kingdom, he soared away
to that mysterious land. There he was loosed from every sorrow, and in the
gathering-place of splendors he was immersed in light.

Unto him be salutations and praise from the luminous Realm, and the glory
of the All-Glorious from the Concourse on high, and great joy in that
Kingdom which endures forever. May God provide him with an exalted station
in the Abhá Paradise.



AẒÍM-I-TAFRÍSHÍ


This man of God came from the district of Tafrí_sh_. He was detached from
the world, fearless, independent of kindred and stranger alike. He was one
of the earliest believers, and belonged to the company of the faithful. It
was in Persia that he won the honor of belief, and began to assist the
friends; he was a servant to every believer, a trusted helper to every
traveler. With Músáy-i-Qumí, upon whom be the glory of God, he came to
‘Iráq, received his portion of bounty from the Light of the World, and was
honored with entering the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, attending upon Him and
becoming the object of bestowals and grace.

After a time, Aẓím and Ḥájí Mírzá Músá went back to Persia, where he
continued to render service to the friends, purely for God’s sake. Without
wage or stipend he served Mírzá Nasru’lláh of Tafrí_sh_ for a number of
years, his faith and certitude growing stronger with every passing day.
Mírzá Nasru’lláh then left Persia for Adrianople, and in his company came
Jináb-i-‘Aẓím, and entered the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. He kept on serving
with love and loyalty, purely for the sake of God; and when the convoy
departed for Akká, Aẓím received the distinction of accompanying
Bahá’u’lláh, and he entered the Most Great Prison.

In the prison he was chosen to serve the Household; he became the water
carrier both within doors and on the outside. He undertook many hard tasks
in the barracks. He had no rest at all, day or night. Aẓím—“the great, the
magnificent”—was magnificent as to character. He was patient,
long-suffering, forbearing, shunning the stain of this earth. And since he
was the family water carrier, he had the honor of coming into
Bahá’u’lláh’s presence every day.

He was a good companion to all the friends, a consolation to their hearts;
he brought happiness to all of them, the present and the absent as well.
Many and many a time, Bahá’u’lláh was heard to express His approval of
this man. He always maintained the same inner condition; he was constant,
never subject to change. He was always happy-looking. He did not know the
meaning of fatigue. He was never despondent. When anyone asked a service
of him, he performed it at once. He was staunch and firm in his faith, a
tree that grew in the scented garden of God’s tenderness.

After he had served at the Holy Threshold for many long years, he hastened
away, tranquil, serene, rejoicing in the tidings of the Kingdom, out of
this swiftly fading life to the world that does not die. The friends, all
of them, mourned his passing, but the Blessed Beauty eased their hearts,
for He lavished grace and praise on him who was gone.

Mercies be upon Aẓím from the Kingdom of Divine compassion; God’s glory be
upon him, at nightfall and the rising of the sun.



MÍRZÁ JA’FAR-I-YAZDÍ


This knight of the battlefield was one of the most learned of seekers
after truth, well versed in many branches of knowledge. For a long time he
was in the schools, specializing in the fundamentals of religion and
religious jurisprudence, and making researches into philosophy and
metaphysics, logic and history, the contemplative and the narrated
sciences.(90) He began, however, to note that his fellows were arrogant
and self-satisfied, and this repelled him. It was then that he heard the
cry out of the Supreme Concourse, and without a moment’s hesitation he
raised up his voice and shouted, “Yea, verily!”; and he repeated the
words, “O our Lord! We have heard the voice of one that called. He called
us to the Faith—‘Believe ye on your Lord’—and we have believed.”(91)

When he saw the great tumult and the riots in Yazd, he left his homeland
and went to Najaf, the noble city; here for safety’s sake he mingled with
the scholars of religion, becoming renowned among them for his own wide
knowledge. Then, listening to the voice from Ba_gh_dád, he hastened there,
and changed his mode of dress. That is, he put a layman’s hat on his head,
and went to work as a carpenter to earn his living. He traveled once to
Ṭihrán, returned, and sheltered by the grace of Bahá’u’lláh was patient
and content, rejoicing in his garb of poverty. In spite of his great
learning he was humble, self-effacing, lowly. He kept silent at all times,
and was a good companion to every sort of man.

On the journey from ‘Iráq to Constantinople, Mírzá Ja’far was one of
Bahá’u’lláh’s retinue, and in seeing to the needs of the friends, he was a
partner to this servant. When we would come to a stopping-place the
believers, exhausted by the long hours of travel, would rest or sleep.
Mírzá Ja’far and I would go here and there to the surrounding villages to
find oats, straw and other provisions for the caravan.(92) Since there was
a famine in that area, it sometimes happened that we would be roaming from
village to village from after the noon hour until half the night was gone.
As best we could, we could procure whatever was available, then return to
the convoy.

Mírzá Ja’far was patient and long-suffering, a faithful attendant at the
Holy Threshold. He was a servant to all the friends, working day and
night. A quiet man, sparing of speech, in all things relying entirely upon
God. He continued to serve in Adrianople until the banishment to Akká was
brought about and he too was made a prisoner. He was grateful for this,
continually offering thanks, and saying, “Praise be to God! I am in the
fully-laden Ark!”(93)

The Prison was a garden of roses to him, and his narrow cell a wide and
fragrant place. At the time when we were in the barracks he fell
dangerously ill and was confined to his bed. He suffered many
complications, until finally the doctor gave him up and would visit him no
more. Then the sick man breathed his last. Mírzá Áqá Ján ran to
Bahá’u’lláh, with word of the death. Not only had the patient ceased to
breathe, but his body was already going limp. His family were gathered
about him, mourning him, shedding bitter tears. The Blessed Beauty said,
“Go; chant the prayer of Yá _Sh_áfí—O Thou, the Healer—and Mírzá Ja’far
will come alive. Very rapidly, he will be as well as ever.” I reached his
bedside. His body was cold and all the signs of death were present.
Slowly, he began to stir; soon he could move his limbs, and before an hour
had passed he lifted his head, sat up, and proceeded to laugh and tell
jokes.

He lived for a long time after that, occupied as ever with serving the
friends. This giving service was a point of pride with him: to all, he was
a servant. He was always modest and humble, calling God to mind, and to
the highest degree full of hope and faith. Finally, while in the Most
Great Prison, he abandoned this earthly life and winged his way to the
life beyond.

Greetings and praise be unto him; upon him be the glory of the
All-Glorious, and the favoring glances of the Lord. His luminous grave is
in Akká.



ḤUSAYN-ÁQÁY-I-TABRÍZÍ


This man who was close to the Divine Threshold was the respected son of
‘Alí-‘Askar-i-Tabrízí. Full of yearning love, he came with his father from
Tabríz to Adrianople, and by his own wish, went on with joy and hope to
the Most Great Prison. From the day of his arrival at the fortress of Akká
he took over the coffee service, and waited upon the friends. This
accomplished man was so patient, so docile, that over a forty-year period,
despite extreme difficulties (for day and night, friend and stranger alike
thronged the doors), he attended upon each and every one who came,
faithfully helping them all. During all that time Ḥusayn-Áqá never
offended a soul, nor did anyone, where he was concerned, utter a single
complaint. This was truly a miracle, and no one else could have
established such a record of service. He was always smiling, attentive as
to the tasks committed to his care, known as a man to trust. In the Cause
of God he was staunch, proud and true; in times of calamity he was patient
and long-suffering.

After the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh the fires of tests leaped up and a
whirlwind of violation battered the edifice down. This believer, in spite
of a close tie of kinship, remained loyal, showing such strength and
firmness that he manifested the words: “In the Cause of God, the blame of
the blamer shall he not fear.”(94) Not for a moment did he hesitate, nor
waver in his faith, but he stood firm as a mountain, proud as an
impregnable citadel, and rooted deep.

The Covenant-breakers took his mother away to their own place, where her
daughter lived. They did everything they could think of to unsettle her
faith. To an extent beyond belief, they lavished favors upon her, and
plied her with kindnesses, hiding the fact that they had broken the
Covenant. Finally, however, that respected handmaid of Bahá’u’lláh
detected the odor of violation, whereupon she instantly quit the Mansion
of Bahjí and hurried back to Akká. “I am the handmaid of the Blessed
Beauty,” she said, “and loyal to His Covenant and Testament. Though my
son-in-law were a prince of the realm, what would that profit me? I am not
to be won over by kinship and displays of affection. I am not concerned
with external tokens of friendliness from those who are the very
embodiment of selfish desire. I stand by the Covenant, and I hold to the
Testament.” She would not consent to meet with the Covenant-breakers
again; she freed herself completely from them, and turned her face to God.

As for Ḥusayn-Áqá, never did he separate himself from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He had
the utmost consideration for me and was my constant companion, and it
followed that his passing was a formidable blow. Even now, whenever he
comes to mind I grieve, and mourn his loss. But God be praised that this
man of God, in the days of the Blessed Beauty, remained at all times in
close proximity to His House, and was the object of His good pleasure.
Time and again, Bahá’u’lláh was heard to comment that Ḥusayn-Áqá had been
created to perform this service.

After forty years of serving, he forsook this swiftly passing world and
soared away to the realms of God. Greetings and praise be unto him, and
mercy from his bountiful Lord. May his grave be encircled with lights that
stream from the exalted Companion. His resting-place is in Haifa.



ḤÁJÍ ‘ALÍ-‘ASKAR-I-TABRÍZÍ


The distinguished ‘Alí-‘Askar was a merchant from Tabríz. He was much
respected in Á_dh_irbayján by all who knew him, and recognized for
godliness and trustworthiness, for piety and strong faith. The people of
Tabríz, one and all, acknowledged his excellence and praised his character
and way of life, his qualities and talents. He was one of the earliest
believers, and one of the most notable.

When the Trumpet first sounded, he fainted away, and at the second blast,
he was awakened to new life.(95) He became a candle burning with the love
of God, a goodly tree in the Abhá gardens. He led all his household, his
other kindred and his friends to the Faith, and successfully rendered many
services; but the tyranny of the wicked brought him to an agonizing pass,
and he was beset by new afflictions every day. Still, he did not slacken
and was not dispirited; on the contrary, his faith, his certitude and
self-sacrifice increased. Finally he could endure his homeland no more.
Accompanied by his family, he arrived in Adrianople, and here, in
financial straits, but content, he spent his days, with dignity, patience,
acquiescence, and offering thanks.

Then he took a little merchandise with him from Adrianople, and left for
the city of Jum’ih-Bázár, to earn his livelihood. What he had with him was
trifling, but still, it was carried off by thieves. When the Persian
Consul learned of this he presented a document to the Government, naming
an enormous sum as the value of the stolen goods. By chance the thieves
were caught and proved to be in possession of considerable funds. It was
decided to investigate the case. The Consul called in Ḥájí ‘Alí-‘Askar and
told him: “These thieves are very rich. In my report to the Government, I
wrote that the amount of the theft was great. Therefore you must attend
the trial and testify conformably to what I wrote.”

The Ḥájí replied: “Your Honor, _Kh_án, the stolen goods amounted to very
little. How can I report something that is not true? When they question
me, I will give the facts exactly as they are. I consider this my duty,
and only this.”

“Ḥájí,” said the Consul, “We have a golden opportunity here; you and I can
both profit by it. Don’t let such a once-in-a-lifetime chance slip through
your hands.”

The Ḥájí answered: “_Kh_án, how would I square it with God? Let me be. I
shall tell the truth and nothing but the truth.”

The Consul was beside himself. He began to threaten and belabor
‘Alí-‘Askar. “Do you want to make me out a liar?” he cried. “Do you want
to make me a laughingstock? I will jail you; I will have you banished;
there is no torment I will spare you. This very instant I will hand you
over to the police, and I will tell them that you are an enemy of the
state, and that you are to be manacled and taken to the Persian frontier.”

The Ḥájí only smiled. “Jináb-i-_Kh_án,” he said. “I have given up my life
for the truth. I have nothing else. You are telling me to lie and bear
false witness. Do with me as you please; I will not turn my back on what
is right.”

When the Consul saw that there was no way to make ‘Alí-‘Askar testify to a
falsehood, he said: “It is better, then, for you to leave this place, so
that I can inform the Government that the owner of the merchandise is no
longer available and has gone away. Otherwise I shall be disgraced.”

The Ḥájí returned to Adrianople, and spoke not a word as to his stolen
goods, but the matter became public knowledge and caused considerable
surprise.

That fine and rare old man was taken captive in Adrianople along with the
rest, and he accompanied the Blessed Beauty to the Akká fortress, this
prison-house of sorrows. With all his family, he was jailed in the path of
God for a period of years; and he was always offering thanks, because the
prison was a palace to him, and captivity a reason to rejoice. In all
those years he was never known to express himself except in thankfulness
and praise. The greater the tyranny of the oppressors, the happier he was.
Time and again Bahá’u’lláh was heard to speak of him with loving kindness,
and He would say: “I am pleased with him.” This man, who was spirit
personified, remained constant, true, and joyful to the end. When some
years had passed, he exchanged this world of dust for the Kingdom that is
undefiled, and he left powerful influences behind.

As a rule, he was the close companion of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. One day, at the
beginning of our time in the Prison, I hurried to the corner of the
barracks where he lived—the cell that was his shabby nest. He was lying
there, running a high fever, out of his head. On his right side lay his
wife, shaking and trembling with chills. To his left was his daughter,
Fátimih, burning up with typhus. Beyond them his son, Ḥusayn-Áqá, was down
with scarlet fever; he had forgotten how to speak Persian, and he kept
crying out in Turkish, “My insides are on fire!” At the father’s feet lay
the other daughter, deep in her sickness, and along the side of the wall
was his brother, Ma_sh_hadí Faṭṭaḥ, raving and delirious. In this
condition, ‘Alí-‘Askar’s lips were moving: he was returning thanks to God,
and expressing joy.

Praise be to God! He died in the Most Great Prison, still patient and
thankful, still with dignity and firm in his faith. He rose up to the
retreats of the compassionate Lord. Upon him be the glory of the
All-Glorious; to him be salutations and praise: upon him be mercy and
forgiveness forever and ever.



ÁQÁ ‘ALÍY-I-QAZVÍNÍ


This eminent man had high ambitions and aims. He was to a supreme degree
constant, loyal and firmly rooted in his faith, and he was among the
earliest and greatest of the believers. At the very dawn of the new Day of
Guidance he became enamored of the Báb and began to teach. From morning
till dark he worked at his craft, and almost every night he entertained
the friends at supper. Being host in this way to friends in the spirit, he
guided many seekers to the Faith, attracting them with the melody of the
love of God. He was amazingly constant, energetic, and persevering.

Then the perfume-laden air began to stir from over the gardens of the
All-Glorious, and he caught fire from the newly kindled flame. His
illusions and fancies were burned away and he arose to proclaim the Cause
of Bahá’u’lláh. Every night there was a meeting, a gathering that rivaled
the flowers in their beds. The verses were read, the prayers chanted, the
good news of the greatest of Advents was shared. He spent most of his time
in showing kindness to friend and stranger alike; he was a magnanimous
being, with open hand and heart.

The day came when he set out for the Most Great Prison, and arrived with
his family at the Akká fortress. He had been afflicted with many a
hardship on his journey, but his longing to see Bahá’u’lláh was such that
he found the calamities easy to endure; and so he measured off the miles,
looking for a home in God’s sheltering grace.

At first he had means; life was comfortable and pleasant. Later on,
however, he was destitute and subjected to terrible ordeals. Most of the
time his food was bread, nothing else; instead of tea, he drank from a
running brook. Still, he remained happy and content. His great joy was to
enter the presence of Bahá’u’lláh; reunion with his Beloved was bounty
enough; his food was to look upon the beauty of the Manifestation; his
wine, to be with Bahá’u’lláh. He was always smiling, always silent; but at
the same time, his heart shouted, leapt and danced.

Often, he was in the company of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He was an excellent friend
and comrade, happy, delightful; favored by Bahá’u’lláh, respected by the
friends, shunning the world, trusting in God. There was no fickleness in
him, his inner condition was always the same: stable, constant, firmly
rooted as the hills.

Whenever I call him to mind, and remember that patience and serenity, that
loyalty, that contentment, involuntarily I find myself asking God to shed
His bounties upon Áqá ‘Alí. Misfortunes and calamities were forever
descending on that estimable man. He was always ill, continually subjected
to unnumbered physical afflictions. The reason was that when at home and
serving the Faith in Qazvín, he was caught by the malevolent and they beat
him so brutally over the head that the effects stayed with him till his
dying hour. They abused and tormented him in many ways and thought it
permissible to inflict every kind of cruelty upon him; yet his only crime
was to have become a believer, and his only sin, to have loved God. As the
poet has written, in lines that illustrate the plight of Áqá ‘Alí:

By owls the royal falcon is beset.
They rend his wings, though he is free of sin.
“Why”—so they mock—“do you remember yet
That royal wrist, that palace you were in?”
He is a kingly bird: this crime he did commit.
Except for beauty, what was Joseph’s sin?

Briefly, that great man spent his time in the Akká prison, praying,
supplicating, turning his face toward God. Infinite bounty enfolded him;
he was favored by Bahá’u’lláh, much of the time admitted to His presence
and showered with endless grace. This was his joy and his delight, his
great good fortune, his dearest wish.

Then the fixed hour was upon him, the daybreak of his hopes, and it came
his turn to soar away, into the invisible realm. Sheltered under the
protection of Bahá’u’lláh, he went swiftly forth to that mysterious land.
To him be salutations and praise and mercy from the Lord of this world and
the world to come. May God light up his resting-place with rays from the
Companion on high. Áqá Muḥammad-Báqir and Áqá Muḥammad-Ismá’íl, the Tailor

These were two brothers who, in the path of God, captives along with the
rest, were shut in the Akká fortress. They were brothers of the late
Pahlaván Riḍá. They left Persia and emigrated to Adrianople, hastening to
the loving-kindness of Bahá’u’lláh; and under His protection, they came to
Akká.

Pahlaván Riḍá—God’s mercy and blessings and splendors be upon him; praise
and salutations be unto him—was a man to outward seeming untutored, devoid
of learning. He was a tradesman, and like the others who came in at the
start, he cast everything away out of love for God, attaining in one leap
the highest reaches of knowledge. He is of those from the earlier time. So
eloquent did he suddenly become that the people of Ká_sh_án were
astounded. For example this man, to all appearances unschooled, betook
himself to Ḥájí Muḥammad-Karím _Kh_án in Ká_sh_án and propounded this
question:

“Sir, are you the Fourth Pillar? I am a man who thirsts after spiritual
truth and I yearn to know of the Fourth Pillar.”(96)

Since a number of political and military leaders were present, the Ḥájí
replied: “Perish the thought! I shun all those who consider me the Fourth
Pillar. Never have I made such a claim. Whoever says I have, speaks
falsehood; may God’s curse be on him!”

A few days later Pahlaván Riḍá again sought out the Ḥájí and told him:
“Sir, I have just finished your book, Ir_sh_adu’l-‘Avám (Guidance unto the
Ignorant); I have read it from cover to cover; in it you say that one is
obligated to know the Fourth Pillar or Fourth Support; indeed, you account
him a fellow knight of the Lord of the Age.(97) Therefore I long to
recognize and know him. I am certain that you are informed of him. Show
him to me, I beg of you.”

The Ḥájí was wrathful. He said: “The Fourth Pillar is no figment. He is a
being plainly visible to all. Like me, he has a turban on his head, he
wears an ‘abá, and carries a cane in his hand.” Pahlaván Riḍá smiled at
him. “Meaning no discourtesy,” he said, “there is, then, a contradiction
in Your Honor’s teaching. First you say one thing, then you say another.”

Furious, the Ḥájí replied: “I am busy now. Let us discuss this matter some
other time. Today I must ask to be excused.”

The point is that Riḍá, a man considered to be unlettered, was able, in an
argument, to best such an erudite “Fourth Pillar.” In the phrase of
Allámíy-i-Hillí, he downed him with the Fourth Support.(98)

Whenever that lionhearted champion of knowledge began to speak, his
listeners marveled; and he remained, till his last breath, the protector
and helper of all seekers after truth. Ultimately he became known far and
wide as a Bahá’í, was turned into a vagrant, and ascended to the Abhá
Kingdom.

As for his two brothers: through the grace of the Blessed Beauty, after
they were taken captive by the tyrants, they were shut in the Most Great
Prison, where they shared the lot of these homeless wanderers. Here,
during the early days at Akká, with complete detachment, with ardent love,
they hastened away to the all-glorious Realm. For our ruthless oppressors,
as soon as we arrived, imprisoned all of us inside the fortress in the
soldiers’ barracks, and they closed up every issue, so that none could
come and go. At that time the air of Akká was poisonous, and every
stranger, immediately following his arrival, would be taken ill.
Muḥammad-Báqir and Muḥammad-Ismá’íl came down with a violent ailment and
there was neither doctor nor medicine to be had; and those two embodied
lights died on the same night, wrapped in each other’s arms. They rose up
to the undying Kingdom, leaving the friends to mourn them forever. There
was none there but wept that night.

When morning came we wished to carry their sanctified bodies away. The
oppressors told us: “You are forbidden to go out of the fortress. You must
hand over these two corpses to us. We will wash them, shroud them and bury
them. But first you must pay for it.” It happened that we had no money.
There was a prayer carpet which had been placed under the feet of
Bahá’u’lláh. He took up this carpet and said, “Sell it. Give the money to
the guards.” The prayer carpet was sold for 170 piasters(99) and that sum
was handed over. But the two were never washed for their burial nor
wrapped in their winding sheets; the guards only dug a hole in the ground
and thrust them in, as they were, in the clothes they had on; so that even
now, their two graves are one, and just as their souls are joined in the
Abhá Realm, their bodies are together here, under the earth, each holding
the other in his close embrace.

The Blessed Beauty showered His blessings on these two brothers. In life,
they were encompassed by His grace and favor; in death, they were
memorialized in His Tablets. Their grave is in Akká. Greetings be unto
them, and praise. The glory of the All-Glorious be upon them, and God’s
mercy, and His benediction.



ABU’L-QÁSIM OF SULṬÁN-ÁBÁD


Another among the prisoners was Abu’l-Qásim of Sulṭán-Ábád, the traveling
companion of Áqá Faraj. These two were unassuming, loyal and staunch. Once
their souls had come alive through the breathings of the Faithful Spirit
they hastened out of Persia to Adrianople, for such was the unabating
cruelty of the malevolent that they could no longer remain in their own
home. On foot, free of every tie, they took to the plains and hills,
seeking their way across trackless waters and desert sands. How many a
night they could not sleep, staying in the open with no place to lay their
heads; with nothing to eat or drink, no bed but the bare earth, no food
but the desert grasses. Somehow they dragged themselves along and managed
to reach Adrianople. It happened that they came during the last days in
that city, and were taken prisoner with the rest, and in the company of
Bahá’u’lláh they traveled to the Most Great Prison.

Abu’l-Qásim fell violently ill with typhus. He died about the same time as
those two brothers, Muḥammad-Báqir and Muḥammad-Ismá’íl, and his pure
remains were buried outside Akká. The Blessed Beauty expressed approval of
him and the friends, all of them, wept over his afflictions and mourned
him. Upon him be the glory of the All-Glorious.



ÁQÁ FARAJ


In all these straits, Áqá Faraj was the companion of Abu’l-Qásim. When, in
Persian ‘Iráq, he first heard the uproar caused by the Advent of the Most
Great Light, he shook and trembled, clapped his hands, cried out in
exultation and hastened off to ‘Iráq. Overcome with delight, he entered
the presence of his holy Lord. He was gathered into the loving fellowship,
and blissfully received the honor of attending upon Bahá’u’lláh. Then he
returned, bearing glad tidings to Sulṭán-Ábád.

Here the malevolent were lying in wait, and disturbances broke out, with
the result that the sainted Mullá-Bá_sh_í and some other believers who had
none to defend them were struck down and put to death. Áqá Faraj and
Abu’l-Qásim, who had gone into hiding, then hurried away to Adrianople, to
fall, ultimately, with the others and with their Well-Beloved, into the
Akká prison.

Áqá Faraj then won the honor of waiting upon the Ancient Beauty. He served
the Holy Threshold at all times and was a comfort to the friends. During
the days of Bahá’u’lláh he was His loyal servitor, and a close companion
to the believers, and so it was after Bahá’u’lláh’s departure: he remained
true to the Covenant, and in the domain of servitude he stood like a
towering palm; a noble, superior man, patient in dire adversity, content
under all conditions.

Strong in faith, in devotion, he left this life and set his face toward
the Kingdom of God, to become the object of endless grace. Upon him be
God’s mercy and good pleasure, in His Paradise. Greetings be unto him, and
praise, in the meadows of Heaven. The Consort of the King of Martyrs

Among the women who came out of their homeland was the sorrowing
Fátimih(100) Begum, widow of the King of Martyrs. She was a holy leaf of
the Tree of God. From her earliest youth she was beset with uncounted
ordeals. First was the disaster which overtook her noble father in the
environs of Bada_sh_t, when, after terrible suffering, he died in a desert
caravanserai, died hard—helpless and far from home.

The child was left an orphan, and in distress, until, by God’s grace, she
became the wife of the King of Martyrs. But since he was known everywhere
as a Bahá’í, was an impassioned lover of Bahá’u’lláh, a man distracted,
carried away, and since Náṣiri’d-Dín _Sh_áh thirsted for blood—the hostile
lurked in their ambush, and every day they informed against him and
slandered him afresh, started a new outcry and set new mischief afoot. For
this reason his family was never sure of his safety for a single day, but
lived from moment to moment in anguish, foreseeing and dreading the hour
of his martyrdom. Here was the family, everywhere known as Bahá’ís; their
enemies, stony-hearted tyrants; their government inflexibly, permanently
against them; their reigning Sovereign rabid for blood.

It is obvious how life would be for such a household. Every day there was
a new incident, more turmoil, another uproar, and they could not draw a
breath in peace. Then, he was martyred. The Government proved brutal and
savage to such a degree that the human race cried out and trembled. All
his possessions were stripped away and plundered, and his family lacked
even their daily bread.

Fátimih spent her nights in weeping; till dawn broke, her only companions
were tears. Whenever she gazed on her children, she would sigh, wearing
away like a candle in devouring grief. But then she would thank God, and
she would say: “Praised be the Lord, these agonies, these broken fortunes
are on Bahá’u’lláh’s account, for His dear sake.” She would call to mind
the defenseless family of the martyred Ḥusayn, and what calamities they
were privileged to bear in the pathway of God. And as she pondered those
events, her heart would leap up, and she would cry, “Praise be to God! We
too have become companions of the Prophet’s Household.”(101)

Because the family was in such straits, Bahá’u’lláh directed them to come
to the Most Great Prison so that, sheltered in these precincts of
abounding grace, they might be compensated for all that had passed. Here
for a time she lived, joyful, thankful, and praising God. And although the
son of the King of Martyrs, Mírzá ‘Abdu’l-Ḥusayn, died in the prison,
still his mother, Fátimih, accepted this, resigned herself to the will of
God, did not so much as sigh or cry out, and did not go into mourning. Not
a word did she utter to bespeak her grief.

This handmaid of God was infinitely patient, dignified and reserved, and
at all times thankful. But then Bahá’u’lláh left the world, and this was
the supreme affliction, the ultimate anguish, and she could endure no
more. The shock and alarm were such that like a fish taken from the water
she writhed on the ground, trembled and shook as if her whole being
quaked, until at last she took leave of her children and she died. She
rose up into the shadowing mercy of God and was plunged in an ocean of
light. Unto her be salutations and praise, compassion and glory. May God
make sweet her resting-place with the outpourings of His heavenly mercy;
in the shade of the Divine Lote-Tree(102) may He honor her dwelling.

He is God!(103)

Thou seest, O my Lord, the assemblage of Thy loved ones, the company of
Thy friends, gathered by the precincts of Thine all-sufficing Shrine, and
in the neighborhood of Thine exalted garden, on a day among the days of
Thy Ridván Feast—that blessed time when Thou didst dawn upon the world,
shedding thereon the lights of Thy holiness, spreading abroad the bright
rays of Thy oneness, and didst issue forth from Ba_gh_dád, with a majesty
and might that encompassed all mankind; with a glory that made all to fall
prostrate before Thee, all heads to bow, every neck to bend low, and the
gaze of every man to be cast down. They are calling Thee to mind and
making mention of Thee, their breasts gladdened with the lights of Thy
bestowals, their souls restored by the evidences of Thy gifts, speaking
Thy praise, turning their faces toward Thy Kingdom, humbly supplicating
Thy lofty Realms.

They are gathered here to commemorate Thy bright and holy handmaid, a leaf
of Thy green Tree of Heaven, a luminous reality, a spiritual essence, who
ever implores Thy tender compassion. She was born into the arms of Divine
wisdom, and she suckled at the breast of certitude; she flourished in the
cradle of faith and rejoiced in the bosom of Thy love, O merciful, O
compassionate Lord! And she grew to womanhood in a house from which the
sweet savors of oneness were spread abroad. But while she was yet a girl,
distress came upon her in Thy path, and misfortune assailed her, O Thou
the Bestower, and in her defenseless youth she drank from the cups of
sorrow and pain, out of love for Thy beauty, O Thou the Forgiver!

Thou knowest, O my God, the calamities she joyfully bore in Thy pathway,
the trials she confronted in Thy love, with a face that radiated delight.
How many a night, as others lay on their beds in soft repose, was she
wakeful, humbly entreating Thy heavenly Realm. How many a day did Thy
people spend, safe in the citadel of Thy sheltering care, while her heart
was harried from what had come upon Thy holy ones.

O my Lord, her days and her years passed by, and whenever she saw the
morning light she wept over the sorrows of Thy servants, and when the
evening shadows fell she cried and called out and burned in a fiery
anguish for what had befallen Thy bondsmen. And she arose with all her
strength to serve Thee, to beseech the Heaven of Thy mercy, and in
lowliness to entreat Thee and to rest her heart upon Thee. And she came
forth veiled in holiness, her garments unspotted by the nature of Thy
people, and she entered into wedlock with Thy servant on whom Thou didst
confer Thy richest gifts, and in whom Thou didst reveal the ensigns of
Thine endless mercy, and whose face, in Thine all-glorious Realm, Thou
didst make to shine with everlasting light. She married him whom Thou
didst lodge in the assemblage of reunion, one with the Company on high;
him whom Thou didst cause to eat of all heavenly foods, him on whom Thou
didst shower Thy blessings, on whom Thou didst bestow the title: Martyrs’
King.

And she dwelt for some years under the protection of that manifest Light;
and with all her soul she served at Thy Threshold, holy and luminous;
preparing foods and a place of rest and couches for all Thy loved ones
that came, and she had no other joy but this. Lowly and humble she was
before each of Thy handmaids, deferring to each, serving each one with her
heart and soul and her whole being, out of love for Thy beauty, and
seeking to win Thy good pleasure. Until her house became known by Thy
name, and the fame of her husband was noised abroad, as one belonging to
Thee, and the Land of Sád (Iṣfáhán) shook and exulted for joy, because of
continual blessings from this mighty champion of Thine; and the scented
herbage of Thy knowledge and the roses of Thy bounty began to burgeon out,
and a great multitude was led to the waters of Thy mercy.

Then the ignoble and the ignorant amongst Thy creatures rose against him,
and with tyranny and malice they pronounced his death; and void of
justice, with harsh oppression, they shed his immaculate blood. Under the
glittering sword that noble personage cried out to Thee: “Praised be Thou,
O my God, that on the Promised Day, Thou hast helped me to attain this
manifest grace; that Thou hast reddened the dust with my blood, spilled
out upon Thy path, so that it puts forth crimson flowers. Favor and grace
are Thine, to grant me this gift which in all the world I longed for most.
Thanks be unto Thee that Thou didst succor me and confirm me and didst
give me to drink of this cup that was tempered at the camphor
fountain(104)—on the Day of Manifestation, at the hands of the cupbearer
of martyrdom, in the assemblage of delights. Thou art verily the One full
of grace, the Generous, the Bestower.”

And after they had killed him they invaded his princely house. They
attacked like preying wolves, like lions at the hunt, and they sacked and
plundered and pillaged, seizing the rich furnishings, the ornaments and
the jewels. She was in dire peril then, left with the fragments of her
broken heart. This violent assault took place when the news of his
martyrdom was spread abroad, and the children cried out as panic struck at
their hearts; they wailed and shed tears, and sounds of mourning rose from
out of that splendid home, but there was none to weep over them, there was
none to pity them. Rather was the night of tyranny made to deepen about
them, and the fiery Hell of injustice blazed out hotter than before; nor
was there any torment but the evil doers brought it to bear, nor any agony
but they inflicted it. And this holy leaf remained, she and her brood, in
the grip of their oppressors, facing the malice of the unmindful, with
none to be their shield.

And the days passed by when tears were her only companions, and her
comrades were cries; when she was mated to anguish, and had nothing but
grief for a friend. And yet in these sufferings, O my Lord, she did not
cease to love Thee; she did not fail Thee, O my Beloved, in these fiery
ordeals. Though disasters followed one upon another, though tribulations
compassed her about, she bore them all, she patiently endured them all, to
her they were Thy gifts and favors, and in all her massive agony—O Thou,
Lord of most beauteous names—Thy praise was on her lips.

Then she gave up her homeland, rest, refuge and shelter, and taking her
young, like the birds she winged her way to this bright and holy Land—that
here she might nest and sing Thy praise as the birds do, and busy herself
in Thy love with all her powers, and serve Thee with all her being, all
her soul and heart. She was lowly before every handmaid of Thine, humble
before every leaf of the garden of Thy Cause, occupied with Thy
remembrance, severed from all except Thyself.

And her cries were lifted up at dawntide, and the sweet accents of her
chanting would be heard in the night season and at the bright noonday,
until she returned unto Thee, and winged her way to Thy Kingdom; went
seeking the shelter of Thy Threshold and soared upward to Thine
everlasting sky. O my Lord, reward her with the contemplation of Thy
beauty, feed her at the table of Thine eternity, give her a home in Thy
neighborhood, sustain her in the gardens of Thy holiness as Thou willest
and pleasest; bless Thou her lodging, keep her safe in the shade of Thy
heavenly Tree; lead her, O Lord, into the pavilions of Thy godhood, make
her to be one of Thy signs, one of Thy lights.

Verily Thou art the Generous, the Bestower, the Forgiver, the
All-Merciful.



SHAMSU’D-ḌUḤÁ


_Kh_ur_sh_íd Begum, who was given the title of _Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá,(105) the
Morning Sun, was mother-in-law to the King of Martyrs. This eloquent,
ardent handmaid of God was the cousin on her father’s side of the famous
Muḥammad-Báqir of Iṣfáhán, widely celebrated as chief of the ‘ulamás in
that city. When still a child she lost both her parents, and was reared by
her grandmother in the home of that famed and learned mujtahid, and well
trained in various branches of knowledge, in theology, sciences and the
arts.

Once she was grown, she was married to Mírzá Hádíy-i-Nahrí; and since she
and her husband were both strongly attracted to the mystical teachings of
that great luminary, the excellent and distinguished Siyyid
Kázim-i-Ra_sh_tí,(106) they left for Karbilá, accompanied by Mírzá Hádí’s
brother, Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alíy-i-Nahrí.(107) Here they used to attend the
Siyyid’s classes, imbibing his knowledge, so that this handmaid became
thoroughly informed on subjects relating to Divinity, on the Scriptures
and on their inner meanings. The couple had two children, a girl and a
boy. They called their son Siyyid ‘Alí and their daughter Fátimih Begum,
she being the one who, when she reached adolescence, was married to the
King of Martyrs.

_Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá was there in Karbilá when the cry of the exalted Lord was
raised in _Sh_íráz, and she shouted back, “Yea, verily!” As for her
husband and his brother, they immediately set out for _Sh_íráz; for both
of them, when visiting the Shrine of Imám Ḥusayn, had looked upon the
beauty of the Primal Point, the Báb; both had been astonished at what they
saw in that transplendent face, in those heavenly attributes and ways, and
had agreed that One such as this must indeed be some very great being.
Accordingly, the moment they learned of His Divine summons, they answered:
“Yea, verily!” and they burst into flame with yearning love for God.
Besides, they had been present every day in that holy place where the late
Siyyid taught, and had clearly heard him say: “The Advent is nigh, the
affair most subtle, most elusive. It behoves each one to search, to
inquire, for it may be that the Promised One is even now present among
men, even now visible, while all about Him are heedless, unmindful, with
bandaged eyes, even as the sacred traditions have foretold.”

When the two brothers arrived in Persia they heard that the Báb had gone
to Mecca on a pilgrimage. Siyyid Muḥammad-‘Alí therefore left for Iṣfáhán
and Mírzá Hádí returned to Karbilá. Meanwhile _Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá had become
friends with the “Leaf of Paradise,” sister to Mullá Husayn, the
Bábu’l-Báb.(108) Through that lady she had met Táhirih,
Qurratu’l-‘Ayn,(109) and had begun to spend most of her time in close
companionship with them both, occupied in teaching the Faith. Since this
was in the early days of the Cause, the people were not yet afraid of it.
From being with Táhirih, _Sh_ams profited immeasurably, and was more on
fire with the Faith than ever. She spent three years in close association
with Táhirih in Karbilá. Day and night, she was stirred like the sea by
the gales of the All-Merciful, and she taught with an eloquent tongue.

As Táhirih became celebrated throughout Karbilá, and the Cause of His
Supreme Holiness, the Báb, spread all over Persia, the latter-day ‘ulamás
arose to deny, to heap scorn upon, and to destroy it. They issued a fatvá
or judgment that called for a general massacre. Táhirih was one of those
designated by the evil ‘ulamás of the city as an unbeliever, and they
mistakenly thought her to be in the home of _Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá. They broke
into _Sh_ams’s house, hemmed her in, abused and vilified her, and
inflicted grievous bodily harm. They dragged her out of the house and
through the streets to the bázár; they beat her with clubs; they stoned
her, they denounced her in foul language, repeatedly assaulting her. While
this was going on, Ḥájí Siyyid Mihdí, the father of her distinguished
husband, reached the scene. “This woman is not Táhirih!” he shouted at
them. But he had no witness to prove it,(110) and the farrá_sh_es, the
police and the mob would not let up. Then, through the uproar, a voice
screamed out: “They have arrested Qurratu’l-‘Ayn!” At this, the people
abandoned _Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá.

Guards were placed at the door of Táhirih’s house and no one was allowed
to enter or leave, while the authorities waited for instructions from
Ba_gh_dád and Constantinople. As the interval of waiting lengthened out,
Táhirih asked for permission to leave for Ba_gh_dád. “Let us go there
ourselves,” she told them. “We are resigned to everything. Whatever
happens to us is the best that can happen, and the most pleasing.” With
government permission, Táhirih, the Leaf of Paradise, her mother and
_Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá all left Karbilá and traveled to Ba_gh_dád, but the
snake-like mass of the populace followed them for some distance, stoning
them from a little way off.

When they reached Ba_gh_dád they went to live at the house of _Sh_ay_kh_
Muḥammad-i-_Sh_ibl, the father of Muḥammad-Muṣṭafá; and since many crowded
the doors there was an uproar throughout that quarter, so that Táhirih
transferred her residence elsewhere, to a lodging of her own, where she
continually taught the Faith, and proclaimed the Word of God. Here the
‘ulamás, _sh_ay_kh_s and others would come to listen to her, asking their
questions and receiving her replies, and she was soon remarkably well
known throughout Ba_gh_dád, expounding as she would the most recondite and
subtle of theological themes.

When word of this reached the government authorities, they conveyed
Táhirih, _Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá and the Leaf to the house of the Muftí, and here
they remained three months until word as to their case was received from
Constantinople. During Táhirih’s stay at the Muftí’s, much of the time was
spent in conversations with him, in producing convincing proofs as to the
Teachings, analyzing and expounding questions relative to the Lord God,
discoursing on the Resurrection Day, on the Balance and the
Reckoning,(111) unraveling the complexities of inner truths.

One day the Muftí’s father came in and belabored them violently and at
length. This somewhat discomfited the Muftí and he began to apologize for
his father. Then he said: “Your answer has arrived from Constantinople.
The Sovereign has set you free, but on condition that you quit his
realms.” The next morning they left the Muftí’s house and proceeded to the
public baths. Meanwhile _Sh_ay_kh_ Muḥammad-i-_Sh_ibl and _Sh_ay_kh_
Sulṭán-i-‘Arab made the necessary preparations for their journey, and when
three days had passed, they left Ba_gh_dád; that is, Táhirih,
_Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá, the Leaf of Paradise, the mother of Mírzá Hádí, and a
number of Siyyids from Yazd set out for Persia. Their travel expenses were
all provided by _Sh_ay_kh_ Muḥammad.

They arrived at Kirman_sh_áh, where the women took up residence in one
house, the men in another. The work of teaching went on at all times, and
as soon as the ‘ulamás became aware of it they ordered that the party be
expelled. At this the district head, with a crowd of people, broke into
the house and carried off their belongings; then they seated the travelers
in open howdahs and drove them from the city. When they came to a field,
the muleteers set them down on the bare ground and left, taking animals
and howdahs away, leaving them without food or luggage, and with no roof
over their heads.

Táhirih thereupon wrote a letter to the Governor of Kirman_sh_áh. “We were
travelers,” she wrote, “guests in your city. ‘Honor thy guest,’ the
Prophet says, ‘though he be an unbeliever.’ Is it right that a guest
should be thus scorned and despoiled?” The Governor ordered that the
stolen goods be restored, and that all be returned to the owners.
Accordingly the muleteers came back as well, seated the travelers in the
howdahs again, and they went on to Hamadán. The ladies of Hamadán, even
the princesses, came every day to meet with Táhirih, who remained in that
city two months.(112) There she dismissed some of her traveling
companions, so that they could return to Ba_gh_dád; others, however,
accompanied her to Qazvín.

As they journeyed, some horsemen, kinsfolk of Táhirih’s, that is, her
brothers, approached. “We have come,” they said, “at our father’s command,
to lead her away, alone.” But Táhirih refused, and accordingly the whole
party remained together until they arrived in Qazvín. Here, Táhirih went
to her father’s house and the friends, those who had ridden and those who
had traveled on foot, put up at a caravanserai. Mírzá Hádí, the husband of
_Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá, had gone to Máh-Kú, seeking out the Báb. On his return,
he awaited the arrival of _Sh_ams in Qazvín, after which the couple left
for Iṣfáhán, and when they reached there, Mírzá Hádí journeyed on to
Bada_sh_t. In that hamlet and its vicinity he was attacked, tormented,
even stoned, and was subjected to such ordeals that finally, in a ruined
caravanserai, he died. His brother, Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí, buried him there,
along the roadside.

_Sh_ams-i-Ḍuḥá remained in Iṣfáhán. She spent her days and nights in the
remembrance of God and in teaching His Cause to the women of that city.
She was gifted with an eloquent tongue; her utterance was wonderful to
hear. She was highly honored by the leading women of Iṣfáhán, celebrated
for piety, for godliness, and the purity of her life. She was chastity
embodied; all her hours were spent in reciting Holy Writ, or expounding
the Texts, or unraveling the most complex of spiritual themes, or
spreading abroad the sweet savors of God.

It was for these reasons that the King of Martyrs married her respected
daughter and became her son-in-law. And when _Sh_ams went to live in his
princely house, day and night the people thronged its doors, for the
leading women of the city, whether friends or strangers, whether close to
her or not, would come and go. For she was a fire lit by the love of God,
and she proclaimed the Word of God with great ardor and verve, so that she
became known among the non-believers as Fátimih, the Bahá’ís’ Lady of
Light.(113)

And so time passed, until the day when the “She-Serpent” and the “Wolf”
conspired together and issued a decree, a fatvá, that sentenced the King
of Martyrs to death. They plotted as well with the Governor of the city so
that among them they could sack and plunder and carry off all that vast
treasure he possessed. Then the _Sh_áh joined forces with those two wild
animals; and he commanded that the blood of both brothers, the King of
Martyrs and the Beloved of Martyrs, be spilled out. Without warning, those
ruthless men: the She-Serpent, the Wolf, and their brutal farrá_sh_es and
constabulary—attacked; they chained the two brothers and led them off to
prison, looted their richly furnished houses, wrested away all their
possessions, and spared no one, not even infants at the breast. They
tortured, cursed, reviled, mocked, beat the kin and others of the victims’
household, and would not stay their hands.

In Paris, Zillu’s-Sulṭán(114) related the following, swearing to the truth
of it upon his oath: “Many and many a time I warned those two great scions
of the Prophet’s House, but all to no avail. At the last I summoned them
one night, and with extreme urgency I told them in so many words:
‘Gentlemen, the _Sh_áh has three times condemned you to death. His farmáns
keep on coming. The decree is absolute and there is only one course open
to you now: you must, in the presence of the ‘ulamás, clear yourselves and
curse your Faith.’ Their answer was: ‘Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá! O Thou Glory of
the All-Glorious! May our lives be offered up!’ Finally I agreed to their
not cursing their Faith. I told them all they had to say was, ‘We are not
Bahá’ís.’ ‘Just those few words,’ I said, ‘will be enough; then I can
write out my report for the _Sh_áh, and you will be saved.’ ‘That is
impossible,’ they answered, ‘because we are Bahá’ís. O Thou Glory of the
All-Glorious, our hearts hunger for martyrdom! Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá!’ I was
enraged, then, and I tried, by being harsh with them, to force them to
renounce their Faith, but it was hopeless. The decree of the rapacious
She-Serpent and Wolf, and the _Sh_áh’s commands, were carried out.”

After those two were martyred, _Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá was hunted down, and had to
seek a refuge in her brother’s house. Although he was not a believer, he
was known in Iṣfáhán as an upright, pious and godly man, a man of
learning, an ascetic who, hermit-like, kept to himself, and for these
reasons he was highly regarded and trusted by all. She stayed there with
him, but the Government did not abandon its search, finally discovered her
whereabouts and summoned her to appear; the evil ‘ulamás had a hand in
this, joining forces with the civil authorities. Her brother was therefore
obliged to accompany _Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá to the Governor’s house. He remained
without, while they sent his sister into the women’s apartments; the
Governor came there, to the door, and he kicked and trampled her so
savagely that she fainted away. Then the Governor shouted to his wife:
“Princess! Princess! Come here and take a look at the Bahá’ís’ Lady of
Light!”

The women lifted her up and put her in one of the rooms. Meanwhile her
brother, dumbfounded, was waiting outside the mansion. Finally, trying to
plead with him, he said to the Governor: “This sister of mine has been
beaten so severely that she is at the point of death. What is the use of
keeping her here? There is no hope for her now. With your permission I can
get her back to my house. It would be better to have her die there, rather
than here, for after all, she is a descendant of the Prophet, she is of
Muḥammad’s noble line, and she has done no wrong. There is nothing against
her except her kinship to the son-in-law.” The Governor answered: “She is
one of the great leaders and heroines of the Bahá’ís. She will simply
cause another uproar.” The brother said: “I promise you that she will not
utter a word. It is certain that within a few days she will not even be
alive. Her body is frail, weak, almost lifeless, and she has suffered
terrible harm.”

Since the brother was greatly respected and trusted by high and low alike,
the Governor released _Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá in his custody, letting her go. She
lived for a while in his house, crying out, grieving, shedding her tears,
mourning her dead. Neither was the brother at peace, nor would the hostile
leave them alone; there was some new turmoil every day, and public clamor.
The brother finally thought it best to take _Sh_ams away on a pilgrimage
to Ma_sh_had, hoping that the fire of civil disturbances would die down.

They went to Ma_sh_had and settled in a vacant house near the Shrine of
the Imám Riḍá.(115)

Because he was such a pious man the brother would leave every morning to
visit the Shrine, and there he would stay, busy with his devotions until
almost noon. In the afternoon as well, he would hasten away to the Holy
Place, and pray until evening. The house being empty, _Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá
managed to get in touch with various women believers and began to
associate with them; and because the love of God burned so brightly in her
heart she was unable to keep silent, so that during those hours when her
brother was absent the place came alive. The Bahá’í women would flock
there and absorb her lucid and eloquent speech.

In those days life in Ma_sh_had was hard for the believers, with the
malevolent always on the alert; if they so much as suspected an
individual, they murdered him. There was no security of any kind, no
peace. But _Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá could not help herself: in spite of all the
terrible ordeals she had endured, she ignored the danger, and was capable
of flinging herself into flames, or into the sea. Since her brother
frequented no one, he knew nothing of what was going on. Day and night he
would only leave the house for the Shrine, the Shrine for the house; he
was a recluse, had no friends, and would not so much as speak to another
person. Nevertheless there came a day when he saw that trouble had broken
out in the city, and he knew it would end in serious harm. He was a man so
calm and silent that he did not reproach his sister; he simply took her
away from Ma_sh_had without warning, and they returned to Iṣfáhán. Here,
he sent her to her daughter, the widow of the King of Martyrs, for he
would no longer shelter her under his roof.

_Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá was thus back in Iṣfáhán, boldly teaching the Faith and
spreading abroad the sweet savors of God. So vehement was the fiery love
in her heart that it compelled her to speak out, whenever she found a
listening ear. And when it was observed that once again the household of
the King of Martyrs was about to be overtaken by calamities, and that they
were enduring severe afflictions there in Iṣfáhán, Bahá’u’lláh desired
them to come to the Most Great Prison. _Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá, with the widow of
the King of Martyrs and the children, arrived in the Holy Land. Here they
were joyously spending their days when the son of the King of Martyrs,
Mírzá ‘Abdu’l-Ḥusayn, as a result of the awful suffering he had been
subjected to in Iṣfáhán, came down with tuberculosis and died in Akká.

_Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá was heavy of heart. She mourned his absence, she wasted
away with longing for him, and it was all much harder because then the
Supreme Affliction came upon us, the crowning anguish. The basis of her
life was undermined; candle-like, she was consumed with grieving. She grew
so feeble that she took to her bed, unable to move. Still, she did not
rest, nor keep silent for a moment. She would tell of days long gone, of
things that had come to pass in the Cause, or she would recite from Holy
Writ, or she would supplicate, and chant her prayers—until, out of the
Most Great Prison, she soared away to the world of God. She hastened away
from this dust gulf of perdition to an unsullied country; packed her gear
and journeyed to the land of lights. Unto her be salutations and praise,
and most great mercy, sheltered in the compassion of her omnipotent Lord.



TÁHIRIH


A woman chaste and holy, a sign and token of surpassing beauty, a burning
brand of the love of God, a lamp of His bestowal, was
Jináb-i-Táhirih.(116) She was called Umm-Salmá; she was the daughter of
Ḥájí Mullá Ṣáliḥ, a mujtahid of Qazvín, and her paternal uncle was Mullá
Taqí, the Imám-Jum’ih or leader of prayers in the cathedral mosque of that
city. They married her to Mullá Muḥammad, the son of Mullá Taqí, and she
gave birth to three children, two sons and a daughter; all three were
bereft of the grace that encompassed their mother, and all failed to
recognize the truth of the Cause.

When she was still a child her father selected a teacher for her and she
studied various branches of knowledge and the arts, achieving remarkable
ability in literary pursuits. Such was the degree of her scholarship and
attainments that her father would often express his regret, saying, “Would
that she had been a boy, for he would have shed illumination upon my
household, and would have succeeded me!”(117)

One day she was a guest in the home of Mullá Javád, a cousin on her
mother’s side, and there in her cousin’s library she came upon some of the
writings of _Sh_ay_kh_ Aḥmad-i-Ahsá’í.(118) Delighted with what he had to
say, Táhirih asked to borrow the writings and take them home. Mullá Javád
violently objected, telling her: “Your father is an enemy of the Twin
Luminous Lights, _Sh_ay_kh_ Aḥmad and Siyyid Kázim. If he should even
dream that any words of those two great beings, any fragrance from the
garden of those realities, had come your way, he would make an attempt
against my life, and you too would become the target of his wrath.”
Táhirih answered: “For a long time now, I have thirsted after this; I have
yearned for these explanations, these inner truths. Give me whatever you
have of these books. Never mind if it angers my father.” Accordingly,
Mullá Javád sent over the writings of the _Sh_ay_kh_ and the Siyyid.

One night, Táhirih sought out her father in his library, and began to
speak of _Sh_ay_kh_ Aḥmad’s teachings. The very moment he learned that his
daughter knew of the _Sh_ay_kh_í doctrines, Mullá Ṣáliḥ’s denunciations
rang out, and he cried: “Javád has made you a lost soul!” Táhirih
answered, “The late _Sh_ay_kh_ was a true scholar of God, and I have
learned an infinity of spiritual truths from reading his books.
Furthermore, he bases whatever he says on the traditions of the Holy
Imáms. You call yourself a mystic knower and a man of God, you consider
your respected uncle to be a scholar as well, and most pious—yet in
neither of you do I find a trace of those qualities!”

For some time, she carried on heated discussions with her father, debating
such questions as the Resurrection and the Day of Judgment, the
Night-Ascent of Muḥammad to Heaven, the Promise and the Threat, and the
Advent of the Promised One.(119) Lacking arguments, her father would
resort to curses and abuse. Then one night, in support of her contention,
Táhirih quoted a holy tradition from the Imám Ja’far-i-Ṣádiq;(120) and
since it confirmed what she was saying, her father burst out laughing,
mocking the tradition. Táhirih said, “Oh my father, these are the words of
the Holy Imám. How can you mock and deny them?”

From that time on, she ceased to debate and contend with her father.
Meanwhile she entered into secret correspondence with Siyyid Kázim,
regarding the solution of complex theological problems, and thus it came
about that the Siyyid conferred on her the name “Solace of the Eyes”
(Qurratu’l-‘Ayn); as for the title Táhirih (“The Pure One”), it was first
associated with her in Bada_sh_t, and was subsequently approved by the
Báb, and recorded in Tablets.

Táhirih had caught fire. She set out for Karbilá, hoping to meet Siyyid
Kázim, but she arrived too late: ten days before she reached that city, he
passed away. Not long before his death the Siyyid had shared with his
disciples the good news that the promised Advent was at hand. “Go forth,”
he repeatedly told them, “and seek out your Lord.” Thus the most
distinguished of his followers gathered for retirement and prayer, for
fasts and vigils, in the Masjid-i-Kúfih, while some awaited the Advent in
Karbilá. Among these was Táhirih, fasting by day, practicing religious
disciplines, and spending the night in vigils, and chanting prayers. One
night when it was getting along toward dawn she laid her head on her
pillow, lost all awareness of this earthly life, and dreamed a dream; in
her vision a youth, a Siyyid, wearing a black cloak and a green turban,
appeared to her in the heavens; he was standing in the air, reciting
verses and praying with his hands upraised. At once, she memorized one of
those verses, and wrote it down in her notebook when she awoke. After the
Báb had declared His mission, and His first book, “The Best of
Stories,”(121) was circulated, Táhirih was reading a section of the text
one day, and she came upon that same verse, which she had noted down from
the dream. Instantly offering thanks, she fell to her knees and bowed her
forehead to the ground, convinced that the Báb’s message was truth.

This good news reached her in Karbilá and she at once began to teach. She
translated and expounded “The Best of Stories,” also writing in Persian
and Arabic, composing odes and lyrics, and humbly practicing her
devotions, performing even those that were optional and supernumerary.
When the evil ‘ulamás in Karbilá got wind of all this, and learned that a
woman was summoning the people to a new religion and had already
influenced a considerable number, they went to the Governor and lodged a
complaint. Their charges, to be brief, led to violent attacks on Táhirih,
and sufferings, which she accepted and for which she offered praise and
thanks. When the authorities came hunting for her they first assaulted
_Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá, mistaking her for Táhirih. As soon, however, as they
heard that Táhirih had been arrested they let _Sh_ams go—for Táhirih had
sent a message to the Governor saying, “I am at your disposal. Do not harm
any other.”

The Governor set guards over her house and shut her away, writing
Ba_gh_dád for instructions as to how he should proceed. For three months,
she lived in a state of siege, completely isolated, with the guards
surrounding her house. Since the local authorities had still received no
reply from Ba_gh_dád, Táhirih referred her case to the Governor, saying:
“No word has come from either Ba_gh_dád or Constantinople. Accordingly, we
will ourselves proceed to Ba_gh_dád and await the answer there.” The
Governor gave her leave to go, and she set out, accompanied by
_Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá and the Leaf of Paradise (the sister of Mullá Ḥusayn) and
her mother. In Ba_gh_dád she stayed first in the house of _Sh_ay_kh_
Muḥammad, the distinguished father of Áqá Muḥammad-Muṣṭafá. But so great
was the press of people around her that she transferred her residence to
another quarter, engaged night and day in spreading the Faith, and freely
associated with the inhabitants of Ba_gh_dád. She thus became celebrated
throughout the city and there was a great uproar.

Táhirih also maintained a correspondence with the ‘ulamás of Kazímayn; she
presented them with unanswerable proofs, and when one or another appeared
before her she offered him convincing arguments. Finally she sent a
message to the _Sh_í’ih divines, saying to them: “If you are not satisfied
with these conclusive proofs, I challenge you to a trial by ordeal.”(122)
Then there was a great outcry from the divines, and the Governor was
obliged to send Táhirih and her women companions to the house of
Ibn-i-Álúsí, who was muftí of Ba_gh_dád. Here she remained about three
months, waiting for word and directions from Constantinople. Ibn-i-Álúsí
would engage her in learned dialogues, questions would be asked and
answers given, and he would not deny what she had to say.

On a certain day the muftí related one of his dreams, and asked her to
tell him what it meant. He said: “In my dream I saw the _Sh_í’ih ‘ulamás
arriving at the holy tomb of Imám Ḥusayn, the Prince of Martyrs. They took
away the barrier that encloses the tomb, and they broke open the
resplendent grave, so that the immaculate body lay revealed to their gaze.
They sought to take up the holy form, but I cast myself down on the corpse
and I warded them off.” Táhirih answered: “This is the meaning of your
dream: you are about to deliver me from the hands of the _Sh_í’ih
divines.” “I too had interpreted it thus,” said Ibn-i-Álúsí.

Since he had discovered that she was well versed in learned questions and
in sacred commentaries and Texts, the two often carried on debates; she
would speak on such themes as the Day of Resurrection, the Balance, and
the Ṣiraṭ,(123) and he would not turn away.

Then came a night when the father of Ibn-i-Álúsí called at the house of
his son. He had a meeting with Táhirih and abruptly, without asking a
single question, began to curse, mock and revile her. Embarrassed at his
father’s behavior, Ibn-i-Álúsí apologized. Then he said: “The answer has
come from Constantinople. The King has commanded that you be set free, but
only on condition that you leave his realms. Go then, tomorrow, make your
preparations for the journey, and hasten away from this land.”

Accordingly Táhirih, with her women companions, left the muftí’s house,
saw to arranging for their travel gear, and went out of Ba_gh_dád. When
they left the city, a number of Arab believers, carrying arms, walked
along beside their convoy. Among the escort were _Sh_ay_kh_ Sulṭán,
_Sh_ay_kh_ Muḥammad and his distinguished son Muḥammad-Muṣṭafá, and
_Sh_ay_kh_ Ṣáliḥ, and these were mounted. It was _Sh_ay_kh_ Muḥammad who
defrayed the expenses of the journey.

When they reached Kirman_sh_áh the women alighted at one house, the men at
another, and the inhabitants arrived in a continuous stream to seek
information as to the new Faith. Here as elsewhere the ‘ulamás were soon
in a state of frenzy and they commanded that the newcomers be expelled. As
a result the kad-_kh_udá or chief officer of that quarter, with a band of
people, laid siege to the house where Táhirih was, and sacked it. Then
they placed Táhirih and her companions in an uncovered howdah and carried
them from the town to an open field, where they put the captives out. The
drivers then took their animals and returned to the city. The victims were
left on the bare ground, with no food, no shelter, and no means of
traveling on.

Táhirih at once wrote a letter to the prince of that territory, in which
she told him: “O thou just Governor! We were guests in your city. Is this
the way you treat your guests?” When her letter was brought to the
Governor of Kirman_sh_áh he said: “I knew nothing of this injustice. This
mischief was kindled by the divines.” He immediately commanded the
kad-_kh_udá to return all the travelers’ belongings. That official duly
surrendered the stolen goods, the drivers with their animals came back out
of the city, the travelers took their places and resumed the journey.

They arrived in Hamadán and here their stay was a happy one. The most
illustrious ladies of that city, even the princesses, would come to visit,
seeking the benefits of Táhirih’s teaching. In Hamadán she dismissed a
part of her escort and sent them back to Ba_gh_dád, while she brought some
of them, including _Sh_amsu’d-Ḍuḥá and _Sh_ay_kh_-Ṣáliḥ, along with her to
Qazvín.

As they traveled, some riders advanced to meet them, kinsmen of Táhirih’s
from Qazvín, and they wished to lead her away alone, unescorted by the
others, to her father’s house. Táhirih refused, saying: “These are in my
company.” In this way they entered Qazvín. Táhirih proceeded to her
father’s house, while the Arabs who had formed her escort alighted at a
caravanserai. Táhirih soon left her father and went to live with her
brother, and there the great ladies of the city would come to visit her;
all this until the murder of Mullá Taqí,(124) when every Bábí in Qazvín
was taken prisoner. Some were sent to Ṭihrán and then returned to Qazvín
and martyred.

Mullá Taqí’s murder came about in this way: One day, when that besotted
tyrant had mounted his pulpit, he began to mock and revile the great
_Sh_ay_kh_ Aḥmad-i-Ahsá’í. Shamelessly, grossly, screaming obscenities, he
cried out: “That _Sh_ay_kh_ is the one who has kindled this fire of evil,
and subjected the whole world to this ordeal!” There was an inquirer in
the audience, a native of _Sh_íráz. He found the taunts, jeers and
indecencies to be more than he could bear. Under cover of darkness he
betook himself to the mosque, plunged a spearhead between the lips of
Mullá Taqí and fled. The next morning they arrested the defenseless
believers and thereupon subjected them to agonizing torture, though all
were innocent and knew nothing of what had come to pass. There was never
any question of investigating the case; the believers repeatedly declared
their innocence but no one paid them any heed. When a few days had passed
the killer gave himself up; he confessed to the authorities, informing
them that he had committed the murder because Mullá Taqí had vilified
_Sh_ay_kh_ Aḥmad. “I deliver myself into your hands,” he told them, “so
that you will set these innocent people free.” They arrested him as well,
put him in the stocks, chained him, and sent him in chains, along with the
others, to Ṭihrán.

Once there he observed that despite his confession, the others were not
released. By night, he made his escape from the prison and went to the
house of Riḍá _Kh_án—that rare and precious man, that star-sacrifice among
the lovers of God—the son of Muḥammad _Kh_án, Master of the Horse to
Muḥammad _Sh_áh. He stayed there for a time, after which he and Riḍá
_Kh_án secretly rode away to the Fort of _Sh_ay_kh_ Tabarsí in
Mázindarán.(125) Muḥammad _Kh_án sent riders after them to track them
down, but try as they might, no one could find them. Those two horsemen
got to the Fort of Tabarsí, where both of them won a martyr’s death. As
for the other friends who were in the prison at Ṭihrán, some of these were
returned to Qazvín and they too suffered martyrdom.

One day the administrator of finance, Mírzá _Sh_áfí, called in the
murderer and addressed him, saying: “Jináb, do you belong to a dervish
order, or do you follow the Law? If you are a follower of the Law, why did
you deal that learned mujtahid a cruel, a fatal blow in the mouth? If you
are a dervish and follow the Path, one of the rules of the Path is to harm
no man. How, then, could you slaughter that zealous divine?” “Sir,” he
replied, “besides the Law, and besides the Path, we also have the Truth.
It was in serving the Truth that I paid him for his deed.”(126)

These things would take place before the reality of this Cause was
revealed and all was made plain. For in those days no one knew that the
Manifestation of the Báb would culminate in the Manifestation of the
Blessed Beauty and that the law of retaliation would be done away with,
and the foundation-principle of the Law of God would be this, that “It is
better for you to be killed than to kill”; that discord and contention
would cease, and the rule of war and butchery would fall away. In those
days, that sort of thing would happen. But praised be God, with the advent
of the Blessed Beauty such a splendor of harmony and peace shone forth,
such a spirit of meekness and long-suffering, that when in Yazd men, women
and children were made the targets of enemy fire or were put to the sword,
when the leaders and the evil ‘ulamás and their followers joined together
and unitedly assaulted those defenseless victims and spilled out their
blood—hacking at and rending apart the bodies of chaste women, with their
daggers slashing the throats of children they had orphaned, then setting
the torn and mangled limbs on fire—not one of the friends of God lifted a
hand against them. Indeed, among those martyrs, those real companions of
the ones who died, long gone, at Karbilá—was a man who, when he saw the
drawn sword flashing over him, thrust sugar candy into his murderer’s
mouth and cried, “With a sweet taste on your lips, put me to death—for you
bring me martyrdom, my dearest wish!”

Let us return to our theme. After the murder of her impious uncle, Mullá
Taqí, in Qazvín, Táhirih fell into dire straits. She was a prisoner and
heavy of heart, grieving over the painful events that had come to pass.
She was watched on every side, by attendants, guards, the farrá_sh_es, and
her foes. While she languished thus, Bahá’u’lláh dispatched
Hádíy-i-Qazvíní, husband of the celebrated _Kh_átún-Ján, from the capital,
and they managed, by a stratagem, to free her from that embroilment and
got her to Ṭihrán in the night. She alighted at the mansion of Bahá’u’lláh
and was lodged in an upper apartment.

When word of this spread throughout Ṭihrán, the Government hunted for her
high and low; nevertheless, the friends kept arriving to see her, in a
steady stream, and Táhirih, seated behind a curtain, would converse with
them. One day the great Siyyid Yaḥyá, surnamed Vahíd, was present there.
As he sat without, Táhirih listened to him from behind the veil. I was
then a child, and was sitting on her lap. With eloquence and fervor, Vahíd
was discoursing on the signs and verses that bore witness to the advent of
the new Manifestation. She suddenly interrupted him and, raising her
voice, vehemently declared: “O Yaḥyá! Let deeds, not words, testify to thy
faith, if thou art a man of true learning. Cease idly repeating the
traditions of the past, for the day of service, of steadfast action, is
come. Now is the time to show forth the true signs of God, to rend asunder
the veils of idle fancy, to promote the Word of God, and to sacrifice
ourselves in His path. Let deeds, not words, be our adorning!”

The Blessed Beauty made elaborate arrangements for Táhirih’s journey to
Bada_sh_t and sent her off with an equipage and retinue. His own party
left for that region some days afterward.

In Bada_sh_t, there was a great open field. Through its center a stream
flowed, and to its right, left, and rear there were three gardens, the
envy of Paradise. One of those gardens was assigned to Quddús,(127) but
this was kept a secret. Another was set apart for Táhirih, and in a third
was raised the pavilion of Bahá’u’lláh. On the field amidst the three
gardens, the believers pitched their tents. Evenings, Bahá’u’lláh, Quddús
and Táhirih would come together. In those days the fact that the Báb was
the Qá’im had not yet been proclaimed; it was the Blessed Beauty, with
Quddús, Who arranged for the proclamation of a universal Advent and the
abrogation and repudiation of the ancient laws.

Then one day, and there was a wisdom in it, Bahá’u’lláh fell ill; that is,
the indisposition was to serve a vital purpose. On a sudden, in the sight
of all, Quddús came out of his garden, and entered the pavilion of
Bahá’u’lláh. But Táhirih sent him a message, to say that their Host being
ill, Quddús should visit her garden instead. His answer was: “This garden
is preferable. Come, then, to this one.” Táhirih, with her face unveiled,
stepped from her garden, advancing to the pavilion of Bahá’u’lláh; and as
she came, she shouted aloud these words: “The Trumpet is sounding! The
great Trump is blown! The universal Advent is now proclaimed!”(128) The
believers gathered in that tent were panic struck, and each one asked
himself, “How can the Law be abrogated? How is it that this woman stands
here without her veil?”

“Read the Súrih of the Inevitable,”(129) said Bahá’u’lláh; and the reader
began: “When the Day that must come shall have come suddenly... Day that
shall abase! Day that shall exalt!...” and thus was the new Dispensation
announced and the great Resurrection made manifest. At the start, those
who were present fled away, and some forsook their Faith, while some fell
a prey to suspicion and doubt, and a number, after wavering, returned to
the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. The Conference of Bada_sh_t broke up, but the
universal Advent had been proclaimed.

Afterward, Quddús hastened away to the Fort of Tabarsí(130) and the
Blessed Beauty, with provisions and equipment, journeyed to Níyálá, having
the intention of going on from there by night, making His way through the
enemy encampment and entering the Fort. But Mírzá Taqí, the Governor of
Ámul, got word of this, and with seven hundred riflemen arrived in Níyálá.
Surrounding the village by night, he sent Bahá’u’lláh with eleven riders
back to Ámul, and those calamities and tribulations, told of before, came
to pass.

As for Táhirih, after the breakup at Bada_sh_t she was captured, and the
oppressors sent her back under guard to Ṭihrán. There she was imprisoned
in the house of Maḥmúd _Kh_án, the Kalántar. But she was aflame, enamored,
restless, and could not be still. The ladies of Ṭihrán, on one pretext or
another, crowded to see and listen to her. It happened that there was a
celebration at the Mayor’s house for the marriage of his son; a nuptial
banquet was prepared, and the house adorned. The flower of Tihran’s ladies
were invited, the princesses, the wives of vazírs and other great. A
splendid wedding it was, with instrumental music and vocal melodies—by day
and night the lute, the bells and songs. Then Táhirih began to speak; and
so bewitched were the great ladies that they forsook the cithern and the
drum and all the pleasures of the wedding feast, to crowd about Táhirih
and listen to the sweet words of her mouth.

Thus she remained, a helpless captive. Then came the attempt on the life
of the _Sh_áh;(131) a farmán was issued; she was sentenced to death.
Saying she was summoned to the Prime Minister’s, they arrived to lead her
away from the Kalántar’s house. She bathed her face and hands, arrayed
herself in a costly dress, and scented with attar of roses she came out of
the house.

They brought her into a garden, where the headsmen waited; but these
wavered and then refused to end her life. A slave was found, far gone in
drunkenness; besotted, vicious, black of heart. And he strangled Táhirih.
He forced a scarf between her lips and rammed it down her throat. Then
they lifted up her unsullied body and flung it in a well, there in the
garden, and over it threw down earth and stones. But Táhirih rejoiced; she
had heard with a light heart the tidings of her martyrdom; she set her
eyes on the supernal Kingdom and offered up her life.

Salutations be unto her, and praise. Holy be her dust, as the tiers of
light come down on it from Heaven.



FOOTNOTES


    1 For the author of The Dawn-Breakers, see Nabíl-i-Zarandí.

    2 Cf. Nabíl, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 395, note 1.

    3 Cf. Qur’án 19:98.

    4 Qur’án 3:91.

    5 Qur’án 54:55.

    6 1849–1850.

    7 1853; 1892.

    8 Áqá Ján. Cf. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 189.

    9 Siyyid Muḥammad, the Antichrist of the Bahá’í Revelation. Cf. Ibid.,
      pp. 164 and 189.

   10 The Afnán are the kindred of the Báb. Ibid., pp. 239; 328.

   11 Herald of the Prophet Muḥammad.

   12 Qur’án 68:4.

   13 This wine, Rúmí says elsewhere, comes from the jar of “Yea verily.”
      That is, it symbolizes the Primal Covenant established between God
      and man on the day of “Am I not your Lord?” On that day, the Creator
      summoned posterity out of the loins of Adam and said to the
      generations unborn, “Am I not your Lord?” Whereupon they answered,
      “Yea, verily, Thou art.” Cf. Qur’án 7:171.

   14 The Turkish para was one-ninth of a cent. Cf. Webster, New
      International Dictionary.

   15 Nabíl, author of The Dawn-Breakers, is Bahá’u’lláh’s “Poet-Laureate,
      His chronicler and His indefatigable disciple.” Cf. God Passes By,
      p. 130.

   16 Mírzá Yaḥyá, the community’s “nominal head,” was the “center
      provisionally appointed pending the manifestation of the Promised
      One.” Ibid., p. 127–28.

   17 A reference to Islámic symbolism, according to which good is
      protected from evil: the angels repel such evil spirits as attempt
      to spy on Paradise, by hurling shooting stars at them. Cf. Qur’án
      15:18, 37:10 and 67:5.

   18 A reference to the declaration of Bahá’u’lláh’s advent in 1863, as
      the Promised One of the Báb. The Báb’s own advent had taken place in
      the “year sixty”—1844.

   19 Bahá’í writings emphasize that the “divinity attributed to so great
      a Being and the complete incarnation of the names and attributes of
      God in so exalted a Person should, under no circumstances, be
      misconceived or misinterpreted ... that invisible yet rational God
      ... however much we extol the divinity of His Manifestations on
      earth, can in no wise incarnate His infinite, His unknowable, His
      incorruptible and all-embracing Reality in ... a mortal being.” Cf.
      Shoghi Effendi, The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh.

   20 According to the abjad reckoning, the letters of “_sh_idád” total
      309. 1892, the date of Bahá’u’lláh’s ascension, was 1309 A.H.

_   21 Gh_aríq. The letters composing this word total 1310, which Hijra
      year began July 26, 1892.

   22 Terms used by the Súfís.

   23 Ṣidq, truth.

   24 Qur’án 54:55.

   25 This word has a number of meanings, including truthful, loyal and
      just.

   26 Yá _Sh_áfí.

   27 Qur’án 76:5.

   28 Nabíl of Qá’in was his title.

   29 Qur’án 5:59.

   30 The kran was 20 _sh_áhís, or almost 8 cents. Cf. Webster, op. cit.

   31 Mírzá Mihdí, the son of Bahá’u’lláh who, praying one evening on the
      barracks roof, fell to his death. Cf. God Passes By, p. 188.

   32 Cf. Qur’án 13:28; 2:99; 3:67.

   33 Yazíd (son of Mu’ávíyyih), Ummayad Caliph by whose order the Imám
      Ḥusayn was martyred. Proverbial for cruelty. Cf. S. Haím, New
      Persian-English Dictionary, s.v.

   34 The rebellion of Mírzá Yaḥyá, who had been named provisional chief
      of the Bábí community. The Báb had never appointed a successor or
      viceregent, instead referring His disciples to the imminent advent
      of His Promised One. In the interim a virtual unknown was, for
      security reasons, made the ostensible leader. Following His
      declaration in 1863 as the Promised One of the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh
      withdrew for a time, in Adrianople, to allow the exiles a free
      choice as between Him and this unworthy half brother, whose crimes
      and follies had threatened to destroy the infant Faith. Terrified at
      being challenged to face Bahá’u’lláh in a public debate, Mírzá Yaḥyá
      refused, and was completely discredited. As Bahá’í history has
      repeatedly demonstrated, this crisis too, however grievous, resulted
      in still greater victories for the Faith—including the rallying of
      prominent disciples to Bahá’u’lláh, and the global proclamation of
      Bahá’u’lláh’s mission, in His Tablets to the Pope and Kings. Cf. God
      Passes By, p. 28, Chapter X and passim.

   35 Mírzá Yaḥyá had not been banished from Persia. Now, however, he was
      being exiled from Adrianople to Cyprus, and ‘Abdu’l-_Gh_affár was
      one of the four companions condemned to go with him. Cf.
      Bahá’u’lláh’s Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 166, and God Passes
      By, p. 182.

   36 Cf. Qur’án 11:101; 11:100; 76:5; 76:22; 17:20.

   37 Cf. God Passes By, p. 108.

   38 Cf. God Passes By, pp. 186; 193; 196.

   39 Qur’án 54:55.

   40 This reference to two worlds, du jihán, may indicate the saying:
      Iṣfáhán is half the world—Isfahan nisf-i-jihán.

   41 For this definition of the Manifestation of God, see God Passes By,
      p. 119.

   42 These “twin shining lights” were two brothers, famous merchants of
      Iṣfáhán. Because he owed them a large sum of money, the leading
      priest—Imam Jum’ih—of the city brought about their martyrdom. See
      Bahá’u’lláh’s Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, and God Passes By, pp.
      200–201 and 219.

   43 Qur’án 89:27–30.

   44 Qur’án 24:35.

   45 Qur’án 89:27–30.

   46 Cf. Qur’án 13:28: “Truly in the remembrance of God are the hearts
      set at rest.”

   47 Qur’án 76:5.

   48 Qur’án 13:28.

   49 Qur’án 3:91.

   50 Qur’án 29:19; 53:48; 56:62.

   51 Mírzá Músá.

   52 Cf. God Passes By, p. 186.

   53 Some four hundred miles northwest of Ba_gh_dád.

_   54 Sh_ikastih—broken—a cursive or half-shorthand script, is thought to
      have been invented at the close of the seventeenth century, in
      Hirát.

   55 Gawhar _Kh_ánum’s marriage to Bahá’u’lláh took place in Ba_gh_dád.
      She remained with her brother in that city when Bahá’u’lláh left
      ‘Iráq and later proceeded to Akká at His instruction. While
      traveling from Ba_gh_dád to Mosul, she was made captive together
      with other believers, among them Zaynu’l-Muqarrabín. Bahá’u’lláh
      makes reference to this captivity in His Tablet to the _Sh_áh.

      Gawhar _Kh_ánum broke the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh following His
      passing. She passed away during the ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

   56 Qur’án 76:9.

   57 A famed calligrapher who lived and wrote at the court of
      _Sh_áh-‘Abbás, the Safaví (1557–1628).

   58 Mi_sh_k is musk. Mi_sh_kín-Qalam means either musk-scented pen, or
      jet black pen.

   59 Qur’án 61:4.

   60 In some of this artist’s productions, the writing was so arranged as
      to take the forms of birds. When E. G. Browne was in Persia, he was
      told that “these would be eagerly sought after by Persians of all
      classes, were it not that they all bore, as the signature of the
      penman, the following verse:

      Dar díyár-i-_kh_aṭṭ _sh_áh-i-sáhib-‘álam
      Bandiy-i-báb-i-Bahá, Mi_sh_kín-Qalam.”

      Cf. A Year Amongst the Persians, p. 227. The verse might be
      translated:

      Lord of calligraphy, my banner goes before;
      But to Bahá’u’lláh, a bondsman at the door,
      Naught else I am,
      Mi_sh_kín-Qalam.

      Note the wordplay on door, which makes possible the inclusion of the
      Báb’s name as well as Bahá’u’lláh’s.

   61 Ustád is a master, one who is skilled in an art or profession.

   62 Qur’án 6:127.

   63 Qur’án 3:28.

   64 Qur’án 2:266, 267.

   65 For some of these Arabic phrases, see Qur’án 3:170; 4:12, 175; 5:16,
      17; 11:100, 101; 28:79; 41:35.

   66 The Ba_gh_dád period in Bahá’í history was from April 8, 1853 to May
      3, 1863. According to various estimates the túman of the day ranged
      from $1.08 to $1.60.

   67 This was in accord with the law of Islám. Cf. Qur’án 4:12.

   68 Qur’án 7:171.

   69 For the tribulations following Bahá’u’lláh’s departure see God
      Passes By, chapter XV.

   70 Persia’s Hercules.

   71 Qur’án 89:27.

   72 Qur’án 4:71.

   73 Cf. God Passes By, p. 180.

   74 Qur’án 89:27–30.

   75 The Afnán are the Báb’s kindred.

   76 Qur’án 7:171.

   77 Qur’án 39:69.

   78 The Promised One of the Báb.

   79 Islámic symbolism: Satan is the “stoned one”; with shooting stars
      for stones, the angels repel demons from Paradise. Qur’án 3:31,
      15:17, 34; 37:7; 67:5.

   80 Qur’án 2:17.

   81 Qur’án 4:71.

   82 The Prime Minister.

   83 Qum is the shrine city of Fátimih, “the Immaculate.” Sister of the
      eighth Imám, Imám Riḍá, she was buried here in 816 A.D.

   84 The remainder of the verse is: “Let us split the roof of Heaven and
      draw a new design.”

   85 Qur’án 52:4.

   86 Cf. Qur’án 13:28.

   87 Qur’án 3:190.

   88 Cf. Qur’án 39:68.

   89 Qur’án 7:171.

   90 Manqúl va ma’qúl: “desumed” versus “excogitated” knowledge.

   91 Qur’án 3:190.

   92 Bahá’u’lláh was accompanied by members of His family and twenty-six
      disciples. The convoy included a mounted guard of ten soldiers with
      their officer, a train of fifty mules, and seven pairs of howdahs,
      each pair surmounted by four parasols. The journey to Constantinople
      lasted from May 3, 1863 to August 16. Cf. God Passes By, p. 156.

   93 Qur’án 26:119; 36:41.

   94 Cf. Qur’án 5:59.

   95 Qur’án 39:68–69: “And there shall be a blast on the trumpet, and all
      who are in the heavens and all who are in the earth shall swoon
      away, save those whom God shall vouchsafe to live. Then shall there
      be another blast on it, and lo! arising they shall gaze around them:
      and the earth shall shine with the light of her Lord...”

   96 In _Sh_ay_kh_í terminology, the Fourth Support or Fourth Pillar was
      the perfect man or channel of grace, always to be sought. Ḥájí
      Muḥammad-Karím _Kh_án regarded himself as such. Cf. Bahá’u’lláh,
      Kitáb-i-Íqán (The Book of Certitude), p. 184, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, A
      Traveller’s Narrative, p. 4.

   97 The promised Twelfth Imám.

   98 Allámíy-i-Hillí, “the Very Erudite Doctor,” title of the famed
      _Sh_í’ih theologian, Jamálu’d-Dín Ḥasan ibn-i-Yúsúf ibn-i-‘Alí of
      Hilla (1250–1325 A.D.).

   99 The Turkish _gh_urú_sh_ or piaster of the time was forty paras, the
      para one-ninth of a cent. These figures are approximate only.

  100 Accent the first syllable: FÁ-teh-meh

  101 Gibbon writes of the Imám Ḥusayn’s martyrdom and the fate of his
      Household, that “in a distant age and climate the tragic scene ...
      will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader.”

  102 The Sadratu’l-Muntahá, translated inter alia as the Sidrah Tree
      which marks the boundary, and the Lote-Tree of the extremity. Cf.
      Qur’án 53:14. It is said to stand at the loftiest point in Paradise,
      and to mark the place beyond which neither men nor angels can pass.
      In Bahá’í terminology it refers to the Manifestation of God.

  103 This prayer was revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for the Consort of the King
      of Martyrs.

  104 Qur’án 76:5.

  105 Pronounced _Sh_ams-oz-Zohá.

  106 A forerunner of the Báb, and co-founder of the _Sh_ay_kh_í School.
      See glossary.

  107 His daughter, at a later date, became the consort of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
      Cf. God Passes By, p. 130, and The Dawn-Breakers, p. 461.

  108 “Gate of the Gate”, a title of Mullá Ḥusayn, the first to believe in
      the Báb. For an account of his sister, cf. The Dawn-Breakers, p.
      383, note.

  109 “Solace of the Eyes.”

  110 Persian women of the day went heavily veiled in public.

  111 Qur’án 7:7; 14:42; 21:48; 57:25, etc

  112 Cf. Nabíl, The Dawn-Breakers, chapter XV.

  113 The reference is to Muḥammad’s daughter, Fátimih, “the bright and
      fair of face, the Lady of Light.”

  114 Eldest son of the _Sh_áh and ruler over more than two-fifths of the
      kingdom. He ratified the death sentence. Soon after these events, he
      fell into disgrace. Cf. God Passes By, p. 200; 232.

  115 The eighth Imám, poisoned by order of the Caliph Ma’múm, A.H. 203,
      after the Imám had been officially designated as the Caliph’s heir
      apparent. His shrine, with its golden dome, has been called the
      glory of the _Sh_í’ih world. “A part of My body is to be buried in
      _Kh_urásán”, the Prophet traditionally said.

  116 Pronounced TÁ-heh-reh.

  117 Cf. The Dawn-Breakers, p. 81, note 2, and p. 285, note 2. Certain
      lines, there translated by Shoghi Effendi, are incorporated here.

  118 A forerunner of the Báb, and first of the two founders of the
      _Sh_ay_kh_í School. See glossary.

  119 Qur’án 17:1; 30:56; 50:19; etc

  120 The sixth Imám.

  121 The “Ahsánu’l-Qisás,” the Báb’s commentary on the Súrih of Joseph,
      was called the Qur’án of the Bábís, and was translated from Arabic
      into Persian by Táhirih. Cf. God Passes By, p. 23.

  122 Qur’án 3:54: “Then will we invoke and lay the malison of God on
      those that lie!” The ordeal was by imprecation.

  123 Qur’án 21:48; 19:37, etc. In Islám the Bridge of Ṣiraṭ, sharp as a
      sword and finer than a hair, stretches across Hell to Heaven.

  124 Cf. The Dawn-Breakers, p. 276. The murderer was not a Bábí, but a
      fervent admirer of the _Sh_ay_kh_í leaders, the Twin Luminous
      Lights.

  125 Cf. The Dawn-Breakers, p. 278.

  126 This refers to the doctrine that there are three ways to God: the
      Law (_sh_arí’at), the Path (taríqat), and the Truth (haqíqat). That
      is, the law of the orthodox, the path of the dervish, and the truth.
      Cf. R. A. Nicholson, Commentary on the Ma_th_naví of Rúmí, s.v.

  127 The eighteenth Letter of the Living, martyred with unspeakable
      cruelty in the market place at Barfurú_sh_, when he was
      twenty-seven. Bahá’u’lláh conferred on him a station second only to
      that of the Báb Himself. Cf. The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 408–415.

  128 Cf. Qur’án 74:8 and 6:73. Also Isaiah 27:13 and Zechariah 9:14.

  129 Qur’án, Súrih 56.

  130 A systematic campaign against the new Faith had been launched in
      Persia by the civil and ecclesiastical authorities combined. The
      believers, cut down wherever they were isolated, banded together
      when they could, for protection against the Government, the clergy,
      and the people. Betrayed and surrounded as they passed through the
      forest of Mázindarán, some 300 believers, mostly students and
      recluses, built the Fort of _Sh_ay_kh_ Tabarsí and held out against
      the armies of Persia for eleven months. Cf. The Dawn-Breakers,
      chapters XIX and XX; God Passes By, p. 37 et seq.

  131 On August 15, 1852, a half-crazed Bábí youth wounded the _Sh_áh with
      shot from a pistol. The assailant was instantly killed, and the
      authorities carried out a wholesale massacre of the believers, its
      climax described by Renan as “a day perhaps unparalleled in the
      history of the world.” Cf. Lord Curzon, Persia and the Persian
      Question, pp. 501–2, and God Passes By, p. 62 et seq.





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