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A Traveler’s Narrative

  • Author:
  • ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 94
Go to printed page GO
Pages 41-60

[Pages 41–60]

When he reached Hamadán his character became known, and, as he was of the clerical class, the doctors vehemently pursued him, handed him over to the government, and ordered chastisement to be inflicted. By chance there fell out from the fold of his collar a document written by Bahá’u’lláh, the subject of which was reproof of attempts at retaliation, censure and reprobation of the search after vengeance, and prohibition from following after lusts. Amongst other matters they found these expressions contained in it: “Verily God is quit of the seditious,” and likewise: “If ye be slain it is better for you than that ye should slay. And when ye are tormented have recourse to the controllers of affairs and the refuge of the people; and if ye be neglected then entrust your affairs to the Jealous Lord. This is the mark of the sincere, and the characteristic of the assured.” When the governor became cognizant of this writing he addressed that person saying, “By the decree of that Chief whom you yourself obey correction is necessary and punishment and chastisement obligatory.” “If,” replied that person, “you will carry out all His precepts I shall have the utmost pleasure in [submitting to] punishment and death.” The governor smiled and let the man go.
So Bahá’u’lláh made the utmost efforts to educate [His people] and incite [them] to morality, the acquisition of the sciences and arts of all countries, kindly dealing with all the nations of the earth, desire for the welfare of all peoples, sociability, concord, obedience, submissiveness, instruction of [their] children, production of what is needful for the human race, and inauguration of true happiness for mankind; and He continually kept sending tracts of admonition to all parts, whereby a wonderful effect was produced. Some of these epistles have, after extreme search and inquiry, been examined, and some portions of them shall now be set down in writing.
All these epistles consisted of [exhortations to] purity of 42 morals, encouragement to good conduct, reprobation of certain individuals, and complaints of the seditious. Amongst others this sentence was recorded:
“My captivity is not My abasement: by My life, it is indeed a glory unto Me! But the abasement is the action of My friends who connect themselves with Us and follow the devil in their actions. Amongst them is he who taketh lust and turneth aside from what is commanded; and amongst them is he who followeth the truth in right guidance. As for those who commit sin and cling to the world they are assuredly not of the people of Bahá.”
So again: “Well it is with him who is adorned with the decoration of manners and morals: verily he is of those who help their Lord with clear perspicuous action.”
“He is God, exalted is His state, wisdom and utterance. The True One (glorious is His glory) for the showing forth of the gems of ideals from the mine of man, hath, in every age, sent a Trusted One. The primary foundation of the faith of God and the religion of God is this, that they should not make diverse sects and various paths the cause and reason of hatred. These principles and laws and firm sure roads appear from one dawning-place and shine from one dayspring, and these diversities were out of regard for the requirements of the time, season, ages, and epochs. O unitarians, make firm the girdle of endeavor, that perchance religious strife and conflict may be removed from amongst the people of the world and be annulled. For love of God and His servants engage in this great and mighty matter. Religious hatred and rancor is a world-consuming fire, and the quenching thereof most arduous, unless the hand of Divine Might give men deliverance from this unfruitful calamity. Consider a war which happeneth between two states: both sides have foregone wealth and life: how many villages were beheld as though they were not! This precept is in the position of the light in the lamp of utterance.” 43
“O people of the world, ye are all the fruit of one tree and the leaves of one branch. Walk with perfect charity, concord, affection, and agreement. I swear by the Sun of Truth, the light of agreement shall brighten and illumine the horizons. The all-knowing Truth hath been and is the witness to this saying. Endeavor to attain to this high supreme station which is the station of protection and preservation of mankind. This is the intent of the King of intentions, and this the hope of the Lord of hopes.”
“We trust that God will assist the kings of the earth to illuminate and adorn the earth with the refulgent light of the Sun of Justice. At one time We spoke in the language of the Law, at another time in the language of the Truth and the Way; and the ultimate object and remote aim was the showing forth of this high supreme station. And God sufficeth for witness.”
“O friends, consort with all the people of the world with joy and fragrance. If there be to you a word or essence whereof others than you are devoid, communicate it and show it forth in the language of affection and kindness: if it be received and be effective the object is attained, and if not leave it to him, and with regard to him deal not harshly but pray. The language of kindness is the lodestone of hearts and the food of the soul; it stands in the relation of ideas to words, and is as an horizon for the shining of the Sun of Wisdom and Knowledge.”
“If the unitarians had in the latter times acted according to the glorious Law [which came] after His Highness the Seal [of the Prophets] (may the life of all beside Him be His sacrifice!), and had clung to its skirt, the foundation of the fortress of religion would not have been shaken, and populous cities would not have been ruined, but rather cities and villages would have acquired and been adorned with the decoration of peace and serenity.”
“Through the heedlessness and discordance of the favored 44 people and the smoke of wicked souls the Fair Nation is seen to be darkened and enfeebled. Had they acted [according to what they knew] they would not have been heedless of the light of the Sun of Justice.”
“This Victim hath from earliest days until now been afflicted at the hands of the heedless. They exiled Us without cause at one time to ‘Iráq, at another time to Adrianople, and thence to ‘Akká, which was a place of exile for murderers and robbers; neither is it known where and in what spot We shall take up Our abode after this greatest prison-house. Knowledge is with God, the Lord of the Throne and of the dust and the Lord of the lofty seat. In whatever place We may be, and whatever befall Us, the saints must gaze with perfect steadfastness and confidence towards the Supreme Horizon and occupy themselves in the reformation of the world and the education of the nations. What hath befallen and shall befall hath been and is an instrument and means for the furtherance of the Word of Unity. Take hold of the command of God and cling thereto: verily it hath been sent down from beside a wise Ordainer.”
“With perfect compassion and mercy have We guided and directed the people of the world to that whereby their souls shall be profited. I swear by the Sun of Truth which hath shone forth from the highest horizons of the world that the people of Bahá had not and have not any aim save the prosperity and reformation of the world and the purifying of the nations. With all men they have been in sincerity and charity. Their outward [appearance] is one with their inward [heart], and their inward [heart] identical with their outward [appearance]. The truth of the matter is not hidden or concealed, but plain and evident before [men’s] faces. Their very deeds are the witness of this assertion. Today let everyone endowed with vision win his way from deeds and signs to the object of the people of Bahá and from their speech and conduct gain knowledge of their intent. The waves of the 45 ocean of divine mercy appear at the utmost height, and the showers of the clouds of His grace and favor descend every moment. During the days of sojourn in ‘Iráq this Oppressed One sat down and consorted with all classes without veil or disguise. How many of the denizens of the horizons entered in enmity and went forth in sympathy! The door of grace was open before the faces of all. With rebellious and obedient did We outwardly converse after one fashion, that perchance the evildoers might win their way to the ocean of boundless forgiveness. The splendors of the Name of the Concealer were in such wise manifested that the evildoer imagined that he was accounted of the good. No messenger was disappointed and no inquirer was turned back. The causes of the aversion and avoidance of men were certain of the doctors of Persia and the unseemly deeds of the ignorant. By [the term] ‘doctors’ in these passages are signified those persons who have withheld mankind from the shore of the Ocean of Unity; but as for the learned who practice [their knowledge] and the wise who act justly, they are as the spirit unto the body of the world. Well is it with that learned man whose head is adorned with the crown of justice, and whose body glorieth in the ornament of honesty. The Pen of Admonition exhorteth the friends and enjoineth on them charity, pity, wisdom, and gentleness. The Oppressed One is this day a prisoner; His allies are the hosts of good deeds and virtues; not ranks, and hosts, and guns, and cannons. 1 One holy action maketh the world of earth highest paradise.
“O friends, help the Oppressed One with well-pleasing virtues and good deeds! Today let every soul desire to attain the highest station. He must not regard what is in him, but what is in God. It is not for him to regard what shall advantage himself, but that whereby the Word of God which must be 46 obeyed shall be upraised. The heart must be sanctified from every form of selfishness and lust, for the weapons of the unitarians and the saints were and are the fear of God. That is the buckler which guardeth man from the arrows of hatred and abomination. Unceasingly hath the standard of piety been victorious, and accounted amongst the most puissant hosts of the world. Thereby do the saints subdue the cities of [men’s] hearts by the permission of God, the Lord of hosts. Darkness hath encompassed the earth: the lamp which giveth light was and is wisdom. The dictates thereof must be observed under all circumstances. And of wisdom is the regard of place and the utterance of discourse according to measure and state. And of wisdom is decision; for man should not accept whatsoever anyone sayeth.
“Under all circumstances desire of the True One (glorious is His glory) that He will not deprive His servants of the sealed wine 2 and the lights of the Name of the Self-Subsistent.
“O friends of God, verily the Pen of Sincerity enjoineth on you the greatest faithfulness. By the Life of God, its light is more evident than the light of the sun! In its light and its brightness and its radiance every light is eclipsed. We desire of God that He will not withhold from His cities and lands the radiant effulgence of the Sun of Faithfulness. We have directed all in the nights and in the days to faithfulness, chastity, purity, and constancy; and have enjoined good deeds and well-pleasing qualities. In the nights and in the days the shriek of the pen ariseth and the tongue speaketh, that against the sword the word may arise, and against fierceness patience, and in place of oppression submission, and at the time of martyrdom resignation. For thirty years and more, in all that hath befallen this oppressed community they have been patient, referring it to God. Everyone endowed with justice and fairness hath testified and doth testify to that which hath been 47 said. During this period this Oppressed One was engaged in good exhortations and efficacious and sufficient admonitions, till it became established and obvious before all that this Victim had made Himself a target for the arrows of calamity unto the showing forth of the treasures deposited in [men’s] souls. Strife and contest were and are seemly in the beasts of prey of the earth, [but] laudable actions are seemly in man.
“Blessed is the Merciful One: Who created man: and taught him utterance. 3 After all these troubles, neither are the ministers of state content, nor the doctors of the church. Not one soul was found to utter a word for God before the court of His Majesty the King (may God perpetuate his kingdom). There shall not befall Us aught save that which God hath decreed unto Us. They acted not kindly, nor was there any shortcoming in the display of evil. Justice became like the phoenix, and faithfulness like the philosopher’s stone: none spake for the right. It would seem that justice had become hateful to men and cast forth from all lands like the people of God. Glory be to God! In the episode of the land of Tá not one spoke for that which God had commanded. Having regard to the display of power and parade of service in the presence of the King (may God perpetuate his kingdom) they have called good evil and the reformer a sedition-monger. The like of these persons would depict the drop as an ocean, and the mote as a sun. They call the house at Kulayn ‘the strong fortress,’ and close their eyes to the perspicuous truth. They have attacked a number of reformers of the world with the charge of seditiousness. As God liveth, these persons had and have no intent nor hope save the glory of the state and service to their nation! For God they spoke and for God they speak, and in the way of God do they journey.
“O friends, ask of Him Who is the Desire of the denizens of earth that He will succor His Majesty the King (may God 48 perpetuate his kingdom) so that all the dominions of Persia may by the light of the Sun of Justice become adorned with the decoration of tranquility and security. According to statements made, he, at the promptings of his blessed nature, loosed those who were in bonds, and bestowed freedom on the captives. The representation of certain matters before the faces of [God’s] servants is obligatory, and natural to the pious, so that the good may be aware and become cognizant [thereof]. Verily He inspireth whom He pleaseth with what He desireth, and He is the Powerful, the Ordainer, the Knowing, the Wise.
“A word from that land hath reached the Oppressed One which in truth was the cause of wonder. His Highness the Mu’tamídu’d-Dawlih, Farhád Mírzá, said concerning the Imprisoned One that whereof the repetition is not pleasing. This Victim consorted very little with him or the like of him. So far as is recollected on [only] two occasions did he visit Murgh-Mahallih in Shimírán where was the abode of the Oppressed One. On the first occasion he came one day in the afternoon, and on the second one Friday morning, returning nigh unto sundown. He knows and is conscious that he should not speak contrary to the truth. If one enter his presence let him repeat these words before him on behalf of the Oppressed One: ‘O Prince! I ask justice and fairness from your Highness concerning that which hath befallen this poor Victim.’ Well is it for that soul whom the doubts of the perverse withhold not from the display of justice, and deprive not of the lights of the luminary of equity. O saints of God! at the end of Our discourse We enjoin on you once again chastity, faithfulness, godliness, sincerity, and purity. Lay aside the evil and adopt the good. This is that whereunto ye are commanded in the Book of God, the Knowing, the Wise. Well is it with those who practice [this injunction]. At this moment the pen crieth out, saying, ‘O saints of God, regard the horizon of uprightness, and be quit, severed, and free from what is beside this. There is no strength and no power save in God.’” 49
In short, formerly in all provinces in Persia accounts and stories concerning this sect diverse and discordant, yea, incompatible with the character of the human race and opposed to the divine endowment, passed on the tongues and in the mouths of men and obtained notoriety. But when their principles acquired fixity and stability and their conduct and behavior were known and appreciated, the veil of doubt and suspicion fell, the true character of this sect became clear and evident, and it reached the degree of certainty that their principles were unlike men’s fancies, and that their foundation differed from [the popular] opinion and estimate. In their conduct, action, morality, and demeanor was no place for objection; the objection in Persia is to certain of the ideas and tenets of this sect. And from the indications of various circumstances it hath been observed that the people have acquired belief and confidence in the trustworthiness, faithfulness, and godliness of this sect in all transactions.
Let us return to our original topic. During the period of their sojourn in ‘Iráq these persons became notorious throughout the world. For exile resulted in fame, in such wise that a great number of other parties sought alliance and union, and devised means of [acquiring] intimacy [with them]. But the Chief of this sect, discovering the aims of each faction, acted with the utmost consistency, circumspection, and firmness. Reposing confidence in none, He applied Himself as far as possible to the admonition of each, inciting and urging them to good resolutions and aims beneficial to the state and the nation. And this conduct and behavior of the Chief acquired notoriety in ‘Iráq.
So likewise during the period of their sojourn in ‘Iráq certain functionaries of foreign governments were desirous of intimacy, and sought friendly relations [with them], but the Chief would not agree. Amongst other strange haps was this, that in ‘Iráq certain of the Royal Family came to an understanding with these [foreign] governments, and, [induced] by 50 promises and threats, conspired with them. But this sect unloosed their tongues in reproach and began to admonish them, saying, “What meanness is this, and what evident treason; that man should, for worldly advantages, personal profit, easy circumstances, or protection of life and property, cast himself into this great detriment and evident loss, and embark in a course of action which will conduce to the greatest abasement and involve the utmost infamy and disgrace both here and hereafter! One can support any baseness save treason to one’s country, and every sin admits of pardon and forgiveness save [that of] dishonoring one’s government and injuring one’s nation.” And they imagined that they were acting patriotically, displaying sincerity and loyalty, and accounting sacred the duties of fidelity; which noble aim they regarded as a moral obligation. So rumors of this were spread abroad through ‘Iráq-i-‘Arab, and such as wished well to their country loosed their tongues in uttering thanks, expressing approval and respect. And it was supposed that these events would be represented in the Royal Presence; but after a while it became known that certain of the Shaykhs at the Supreme Shrines who were in correspondence with the court, yea, even with the King, were in secret continually attributing to this sect strange affinities and relations, imagining that such attempts would conduce to favor at the Court and cause advancement of [their] condition and rank. And since no one could speak freely on this matter at that court which is the pivot of justice, whilst just ministers aware [of the true state of the case] also regarded silence as their best policy, the ‘Iráq question, through these misrepresentations and rumors, assumed gravity in Ṭihrán, and was enormously exaggerated. But the consuls-general, being cognizant of the truth, continued to act with moderation, until Mírzá Buzurg Khán of Qazvín became consul-general in Baghdád. Now since this person was wont to pass the greater portion of his time in a state of intoxication and was devoid of foresight, he became the accomplice 51 and confederate of those Shaykhs in ‘Iráq, and girded up his loins stoutly to destroy and demolish. Such power of description and [strength] of fingers as he possessed he employed in making representations and statements. Each day he secretly wrote a dispatch to Ṭihrán, made vows and compacts with the Shaykhs, and sent diplomatic notes to His Excellency the Ambassador-in-chief [at Constantinople]. But since these statements and depositions had no basis or foundation, they were all postponed and adjourned; until at length these Shaykhs convened a meeting to consult with the [Consul-] General, assembled a number of learned doctors and great divines in the [mosque of the] ‘two Kázims’ (upon them be peace), and, having come to an unanimous agreement, wrote to the divines of Karbilá the exalted and Najaf the most noble, convoking them all. They came, some knowing, others not knowing. Amongst the latter the illustrious and expert doctor, the noble and celebrated scholar, the seal of seekers after truth, Shaykh Murtadá, now departed and assoiled, who was the admitted chief of all, arrived without knowledge [of the matter in hand]. But, so soon as he was informed of their actual designs, he said, “I am not properly acquainted with the essential character of this sect, nor with the secret tenets and hidden theological doctrines of this community; neither have I hitherto witnessed or perceived in their demeanor or conduct anything at variance with the Perspicuous Book which would lead me to pronounce them infidels. Therefore hold me excused in this matter, and let him who regards it as his duty take action.” Now the design of the Shaykhs and the Consul was a sudden and general attack, but, by reason of the noncompliance of the departed Shaykh, this scheme proved abortive, resulting, indeed, only in shame and disappointment. So that concourse of Shaykhs, doctors, and common folk which had come from Karbilá dispersed.
Just at this time mischievous persons—[including] even certain dismissed ministers—endeavored on all sides so to 52 influence this sect that they might perchance alter their course and conduct. From every quarter lying messages and disquieting reports continually followed one another in uninterrupted and constant succession to the effect that the deliberate intention of the court of Persia was the eradication, suppression, annihilation, and destruction of this sect; that correspondence was continually being carried on with the local authorities; and that all [the Bábís] in ‘Iráq would shortly be delivered over with bound hands to Persia. But the Bábís passed the time in calmness and silence, without in any way altering their behavior and conduct.
So when Mírzá Buzurg Khán failed to effect and accomplish the designs of his heart by such actions also, he ill-advisedly fell to reflecting how he might grieve and humiliate [the Bábís]. Every day he sought some pretext for offering insult, aroused some disturbance and tumult, and raised up the banner of mischief, until the matter came nigh to culminating in the sudden outbreak of a riot, the lapse of the reins of control from the hand, and the precipitation of [men’s] hearts into disquietude and perturbation and [their] minds into anguish and agony.
Now when [the Bábís] found themselves unable to treat this humor by any means (for, strive as they would, they were foiled and frustrated), and when they failed to find any remedy for this disorder or any fairness in this flower, they deliberated and hesitated for nine months, and at length a certain number of them, to stop further mischief, enrolled themselves as subjects of the Sublime Ottoman Government, that [thereby] they might assuage this tumult. By means of this device the mischief was allayed, and the consul withdrew his hand from molesting them; but he notified this occurrence to the Royal Court in a manner at variance with the facts and contrary to the truth, and, together with the confederate Shaykhs, applied himself in every way to devices for distracting the senses [of the 53 Bábís]. Finally, however, being dismissed, and overwhelmed with disaster, he became penitent and sorry.
Let us proceed with our original topic. For eleven years and somewhat over, Bahá’u’lláh abode in ‘Iráq-i-‘Arab. The behavior and conduct of the sect were such that [His] fame and renown increased. For He was manifest and apparent amongst men, consorted and associated with all parties, and would converse familiarly with doctors and scholars concerning the solution of difficult theological questions and the verification of the true sense of abstruse points of divinity. As is currently reported by persons of every class, He used to please all, whether inhabitants or visitors, by His kindly intercourse and courteous address; and this sort of demeanor and conduct on His part led them to suspect sorcery and account Him an adept in the occult sciences.
During this period Mírzá Yaḥyá remained concealed and hidden, continuing and abiding in his former conduct and behavior, until, when the edict for the removal of Bahá’u’lláh from Baghdád was issued by His Majesty the Ottoman monarch, Mírzá Yaḥyá would neither quit nor accompany [Him]: at one time he meditated setting out for India, at another settling in Turkistán; but, being unable to decide on either of these two plans, he finally, at his own wish, set out before all in the garb of a dervish, in disguise and change of raiment, for Kárkúk and Arbíl. Thence, by continuous advance, he reached Mosul, where, on the arrival of the main body, he took up his abode and station alongside their caravan. And although throughout this journey the governors and officials observed the utmost consideration and respectfulness, while march and halt were alike dignified and honorable, nevertheless was he always concealed in change of raiment, and acted cautiously, on the idea that some act of aggression was likely to occur.
In this fashion did they reach Constantinople, where they 54 were appointed quarters in a guesthouse on the part of the glorious Ottoman monarchy. And at first the utmost attention was paid to them in every way. On the third day, because of the straitness of their quarters and the greatness of their numbers, they migrated and moved to another house. Certain of the nobles came to see and converse with them, and these, as is related, behaved with moderation. Notwithstanding that many in their assemblies and gatherings continued to condemn and vilify them saying, “This sect are a mischief to all the world and destructive of treaties and covenants; they are a source of trouble and baleful to all lands; they have kindled a fire and consumed the earth; and though they be outwardly fair-seeming yet are they deserving of every chastisement and punishment,” yet still the Bábís continued to conduct themselves with patience, calmness, deliberation, and constancy, so that they did not, even in self-defense, importune [the occupants of] high places or frequent the houses of any of the magnates of that kingdom. Whomsoever amongst the great He [Bahá] interviewed on His own account, they met, and no word save of sciences and arts passed between them; until certain noblemen sought to guide Him, and loosed their tongues in friendly counsel, saying, “To appeal, to state your case, and to demand justice is a measure demanded by custom.” He replied in answer, “Pursuing the path of obedience to the King’s command We have come to this country. Beyond this We neither had nor have any aim or desire that We should appeal and cause trouble. What is [now] hidden behind the veil of destiny will in the future become manifest. There neither has been nor is any necessity for supplication and importunity. If the enlightened-minded leaders [of your nation] be wise and diligent, they will certainly make inquiry, and acquaint themselves with the true state of the case; if not, then [their] attainment of the truth is impracticable and impossible. Under these circumstances what need is there for importuning statesmen and supplicating ministers of the 55 Court? We are free from every anxiety, and ready and prepared for the things predestined to Us. ‘Say, all is from God’ 4 is a sound and sufficient argument, and ‘if God toucheth thee with a hurt there is no dispeller thereof save Him’ 5 is a healing medicine.”
After some months a royal edict was promulgated appointing Adrianople in the district of Roumelia as their place of abode and residence. To that city the Bábís, accompanied by [Turkish] officers, proceeded all together, and there they made their home and habitation. According to statements heard from sundry travelers and from certain great and learned men of that city, they behaved and conducted themselves there also in such wise that the inhabitants of the district and the government officials used to eulogize them, and all used to show them respect and deference. In short, since Bahá’u’lláh was wont to hold intercourse with the doctors, scholars, magnates, and nobles [thereby] obtaining fame and celebrity throughout Roumelia, the materials of comfort were gathered together, neither fear nor dread remained, they reposed on the couch of ease, and passed their time in quietude, when one Siyyid Muḥammad by name, of Iṣfahán, one of the followers [of the Báb], laid the foundations of intimacy and familiarity with Mírzá Yaḥyá, and [thereby] became the cause of vexation and trouble. In other words, he commenced a secret intrigue and fell to tempting Mírzá Yaḥyá, saying, “The fame of this sect hath risen high in the world, and their name hath become noble: neither dread nor danger remaineth, nor is there any fear or [need for] caution before you. Cease, then, to follow, that thou mayest be followed by the world; and come out from amongst adherents, that thou mayest become celebrated throughout the horizons.” Mírzá Yaḥyá, too, through lack of reflection and thought as to consequences, and want of experience, 56 became enamored of his words and befooled by his conduct. This one was [like] the sucking child, and that one became as the much-prized breast. At all events, how much soever some of the chiefs of the sect wrote admonitions and pointed out to him the path of discretion saying, “For many a year hast thou been nurtured in thy brother’s arms and hast reposed on the pillow of ease and gladness; what thoughts are these which are the results of madness? Be not beguiled by this empty name, 6 which, out of regard for certain considerations and as a matter of expediency, was bestowed [upon thee]; neither seek to be censured by the community. Thy rank and worth depend on a word, and thine exaltation and elevation were for a protection and a consideration,” yet still, the more they admonished him, the less did it affect him; and how much soever they would direct him, he continued to account opposition as identical with advantage. Afterwards, too, the fire of greed and avarice was kindled, and although there was no sort of need, their circumstances being easy in the extreme, they fell to thinking of salary and stipend, and certain of the women dependent on Mírzá Yaḥyá went to the [governor’s] palace and craved assistance and charity. So when Bahá’u’lláh beheld such conduct and behavior on his part He dismissed and drove away both [him and Siyyid Muḥammad] from Himself.
Then Siyyid Muḥammad set out for Constantinople to get his stipend, and opened the door of suffering. According to the account given, this matter caused the greatest sorrow and brought about cessation of intercourse. In Constantinople, moreover, he presumptuously set afloat certain reports, asserting, 57 amongst other things, that the notable personage who had come from ‘Iráq was Mírzá Yaḥyá. Sundry individuals, perceiving that herein was excellent material for mischief-making and a means for the promotion of mutiny, ostensibly supported and applauded him, and stimulated and incited him, saying, “You are really the chief support and acknowledged successor: act with authority, in order that grace and blessing may become apparent. The waveless sea hath no sound, and the cloud without thunder raineth no rain.” By such speech, then, was that unfortunate man entrapped into his course of action, and led to utter vain words which caused the disturbance of [men’s] thoughts. Little by little those who were wont to incite and encourage began without exception to utter violent denunciations in every nook and corner, nay in the court itself, saying, “The Bábís say thus, and expound in this wise: [their] behavior is such, and [their] speech so-and-so.” Such mischief-making and plots caused matters to become misapprehended, and furthermore certain schemes got afloat which were regarded as necessary measures of self-protection; the expediency of banishing the Bábís came under consideration; and all of a sudden an order came, and Bahá’u’lláh was removed from Roumelia; nor was it known for what purpose or whither they would bear Him away. Diverse accounts were current in [men’s] mouths, and many exaggerations were heard [to the effect] that there was no hope of deliverance.
Now all those persons who were with Him with one accord entreated and insisted that they should [be permitted to] accompany Him, and, how much soever the government admonished and forbade them, it was fruitless. Finally one Ḥájí Ja’far by name was moved to lamentation, and with his own hand cut his throat. When the government beheld it thus, it gave permission to all of them to accompany Him, conveyed them from Adrianople to the seashore, and thence transported them to ‘Akká. Mírzá Yaḥyá they sent in like manner to Famagusta. 58
During the latter days [passed] in Adrianople Bahá’u’lláh composed a detailed epistle setting forth all matters clearly and minutely. He unfolded and expounded the main principles of the sect, and made clear and plain its ethics, manners, course, and mode of conduct: He treated certain political questions in detail, and adduced sundry proofs of His truthfulness: He declared the good intent, loyalty, and sincerity of the sect, and wrote some fragments of prayers, some in Persian, but the greater part in Arabic. He then placed it in a packet and adorned its address with the royal name of His Majesty the King of Persia, and wrote [on it] that some person pure of heart and pure of life, dedicated to God, and prepared for martyr-sacrifice, must, with perfect resignation and willingness, convey this epistle into the presence of the King. A youth named Mírzá Badí, a native of Khurásán, took the epistle, and hastened toward the presence of His Majesty the King. The Royal Train had its abode and station outside Ṭihrán, so he took his stand alone on a rock in a place far off but opposite to the Royal Pavilion, and awaited day and night the passing of the Royal escort or the attainment of admission into the Imperial Presence. Three days did he pass in a state of fasting and vigilance: an emaciated body and enfeebled spirit remained. On the fourth day the Royal Personage was examining all quarters and directions with a telescope when suddenly his glance fell on this man who was seated in the utmost respectful attitude on a rock. It was inferred from the indications [perceived] that he must certainly have thanks [to offer], or some complaint or demand for redress and justice [to prefer]. [The King] commanded one of those in attendance at the court to inquire into the circumstances of this youth. On interrogation [it was found that] he carried a letter which he desired to convey with his own hand into the Royal Presence. On receiving permission to approach, he cried out before the pavilion with a dignity, composure, and respectfulness surpassing description, and in a loud voice, “O King, I have come 59 unto thee from Sheba with a weighty message!” 7 [The King] commanded to take the letter and arrest the bearer. His Majesty the King wished to act with deliberation and desired to discover the truth, but those who were present before him loosed their tongues in violent reprehension, saying, “This person has shown great presumption and amazing audacity, for he hath without fear or dread brought the letter of him against whom all peoples are angered, of him who is banished to Bulgaria and Sclavonia, into the presence of the King. If so be that he do not instantly suffer a grievous punishment there will be an increase of this great presumption.” So the ministers of the court signified [that he should suffer] punishment and ordered the torture. As the first torment they applied the chain and rack, saying, “Make known thy other friends that thou mayest be delivered from excruciating punishment, and make thy comrades captive that thou mayest escape from the torment of the chain and the keenness of the sword.” But, torture, brand, and torment him as they might, they saw naught but steadfastness and silence, and found naught but dumb endurance [on his part]. So, when the torture gave no result, they [first] photographed him (the executioners on his left and on his right, and he sitting bound in fetters and chains beneath the sword with perfect meekness and composure), and then slew and destroyed him. This photograph I sent for, and found worthy of contemplation, for he was seated with wonderful humility and strange submissiveness, in utmost resignation.
Now when His Majesty the King had perused certain passages and become cognizant of the contents of the epistle, he was much affected at what had taken place and manifested regret, because his courtiers had acted hastily and put into execution a severe punishment. It is even related that he said thrice, “Doth anyone punish [one who is but] the channel of 60
1. Throughout His Writings the “Oppressed One” refers to Bahá’u’lláh Himself.   [ Back To Reference]
2. The ordinances of God.   [ Back To Reference]
3. Qur’án 55:3–4.   [ Back To Reference]
4. Qur’án 4:80.   [ Back To Reference]
5. Qur’án 6:17; 10:107.   [ Back To Reference]
6. Mírzá Yaḥyá’s title was Subh-i-Azal, the Morning of Eternity. Bahá’u’lláh, in this connection, cites Amos 4:12–13, which says that God “maketh the morning darkness.” Cf. Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1953), p. 146. See Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1974), p.114, for other titles of Mírzá Yaḥyá.   [ Back To Reference]
7. Cf. Qur’án 27:22.   [ Back To Reference]