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

  • Author:
  • Nabil

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1932 edition
  • Pages:
  • 676
Go to printed page GO
Pages 378-430


THE forces under the command of Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá meanwhile had recovered from the state of utter demoralisation into which they had sunk, and were now diligently preparing to renew their attack upon the occupants of the fort of Tabarsí. The latter found themselves again encompassed by a numerous host, at the head of which marched Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání and Sulaymán Khán-i-Afshar-i-Shahríyárí, who, together with several regiments of infantry and cavalry, had hastened to reinforce the company of the prince’s soldiers. 1 Their combined forces encamped in the neighbourhood of the fort, 2 and proceeded to erect a series of seven barricades around it. With the utmost arrogance, they sought at first to display the extent of the forces at their command, and indulged with increasing zest in the daily exercise of their arms. 379
The scarcity of water had, in the meantime, compelled those who were besieged to dig a well within the enclosure of the fort. On the day the work was to be completed, the eighth day of the month of Rabí’u’l-Avval, 3 Mullá Husayn, who was watching his companions perform this task, remarked: “To-day we shall have all the water we require for our bath. Cleansed of all earthly defilements, we shall seek the court of the Almighty, and shall hasten to our eternal abode. Whoso is willing to partake of the cup of martyrdom, let him prepare himself and wait for the hour when he can seal with his life-blood his faith in his Cause. This night, ere the hour of dawn, let those who wish to join me be ready to issue forth from behind these walls and, scattering once again the dark forces which have beset our path, ascend untrammelled to the heights of glory.”
That same afternoon, Mullá Husayn performed his ablutions, clothed himself in new garments, attired his head with the Báb’s turban, and prepared for the approaching encounter. An undefinable joy illumined his face. He serenely alluded to the hour of his departure, and continued to his last moments to animate the zeal of his companions. Alone with Quddús, who so powerfully reminded him of his Beloved, he poured forth, as he sat at his feet in the closing moments of his earthly life, all that an enraptured soul could no longer restrain. Soon after midnight, as soon as the morning-star had risen, the star that heralded to him the dawning light of eternal reunion with his Beloved, he started to his feet and, mounting his charger, gave the signal that the gate of the fort be opened. As he rode out at the head of three hundred and thirteen of his companions to meet the enemy, the cry of “Yá Sáhibu’z-Zamán!” 4 again broke forth, a cry so intense and powerful that forest, fort, and camp vibrated to its resounding echo.
Mullá Husayn first charged the barricade which was defended by Zakariyyay-i-Qádí-Kalá’í, one of the enemy’s most valiant officers. Within a short space of time, he had broken 380 through that barrier, disposed of its commander, and scattered his men. Dashing forward with the same swiftness and intrepidity, he overcame the resistance of both the second and third barricades, diffusing, as he advanced, despair and consternation among his foes. Undeterred by the bullets which rained continually upon him and his companions, they pressed forward until the remaining barricades had all been captured and overthrown. In the midst of the tumult which ensued, Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání had climbed a tree, and, hiding himself in its branches, lay waiting in ambush for his opponents. Protected by the darkness which surrounded him, he was able to follow from his hiding place the movements of Mullá Husayn and his companions, who were exposed to the fierce glare of the conflagration which they had raised. The steed of Mullá Husayn suddenly became entangled in the rope of an adjoining tent, and ere he was able to extricate himself, he was struck in the breast by a bullet from his treacherous assailant. Though the shot was successful, Abbás-Qulí Khán was unaware of the identity of the horseman he had wounded. Mullá Husayn, who was bleeding profusely, dismounted from his horse, staggered a few steps, and, unable to proceed further, fell exhausted upon the ground. Two of his young companions, of Khurásán, Qulí, and Hasan, came to his rescue and bore him to the fort. 5 381
I have heard the following account from Mullá Sádiq and Mullá Mírzá Muhammad-i-Furúghí: “We were among those who had remained in the fort with Quddús. As soon as Mullá Husayn, who seemed to have lost consciousness, was brought in, we were ordered to retire. ‘Leave me alone with him,’ were the words of Quddús as he bade Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir close the door and refuse admittance to anyone desiring to see him. ‘There are certain confidential matters which I desire him alone to know.’ We were amazed a few moments later when we heard the voice of Mullá Husayn replying to questions from Quddús. For two hours they continued to converse with each other. We were surprised to see Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir so greatly agitated. ‘I was watching Quddús,’ he subsequently informed us, ‘through a fissure in the door. As soon as he called his name, I saw Mullá Husayn arise and seat himself, in his customary manner, on bended knees beside him. With bowed head and downcast eyes, he listened to every word that fell from the lips of Quddús, and answered his questions. “You have hastened the hour of your departure,” I was able to hear Quddús remark, “and have abandoned me to the mercy of my foes. Please God, I will ere long join you and taste the sweetness of heaven’s ineffable delights.” I was able to gather the following words uttered by Mullá Husayn: “May my life be a ransom for you. Are you well pleased with me?”’
“A long time elapsed before Quddús bade Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir open the door and admit his companions. ‘I have bade my last farewell to him,’ he said, as we entered the room. ‘Things which previously I deemed it unallowable to utter I have now shared with him.’ We found on our arrival that Mullá Husayn had expired. A faint smile still lingered upon his face. Such was the peacefulness of his countenance that he seemed to have fallen asleep. Quddús attended to his burial, clothed him in his own shirt, and gave instructions to lay him to rest to the south of, and adjoining, the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsí. 6 ‘Well is it with you to have remained to your last hour faithful to the Covenant 382 of God,’ he said, as he laid a parting kiss upon his eyes and forehead. ‘I pray God to grant that no division ever be caused between you and me.’ He spoke with such poignancy that the seven companions who were standing beside him wept profusely, and wished they had been sacrificed in his stead. Quddús, with his own hands, laid the body in the tomb, and cautioned those who were standing near him to maintain secrecy regarding the spot which served as his resting place, and to conceal it even from their companions. He afterwards instructed them to inter the bodies of the thirty-six martyrs who had fallen in the course of that engagement in one and the same grave on the northern side of the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsí. ‘Let the loved ones of God,’ he was heard to remark as he consigned them to their tomb, ‘take heed of the example of these martyrs of our Faith. Let them in life be and remain as united as these are now in death.’”
No less than ninety of the companions were wounded that night, most of whom succumbed. From the day of their arrival at Barfurúsh to the day they were first attacked, which fell on the twelfth of Dhi’l-Qádih in the year 1264 A.H., 7 to the day of the death of Mullá Husayn, which took place at the hour of dawn on the ninth of Rabí’u’l-Avval in the year 1265 A.H., 8 the number of martyrs, according to the computation of Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir, had reached a total of seventy-two.
From the time when Mullá Husayn was assailed by his enemies to the time of his martyrdom was a hundred and sixteen days, a period rendered memorable by deeds so heroic that even his bitterest foes felt bound to confess their wonder. On four distinct occasions, he rose to such heights of courage and power as few indeed could attain. The first encounter took place on the twelfth of Dhi’l-Qádih, 9 in the outskirts of Barfurúsh; the second, in the immediate neighbourhood of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsí, on the fifth day of the month of Muharram, 10 against the forces of ‘Abdu’lláh Khán-i-Turkamán; the third, in Vas-Kas, on the twenty-fifth day of Muharram, 11 directed against the army of Prince 383 Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá. The last and most memorable battle of all was directed against the combined forces of Abbás-Qulí Khán, of Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá, and of Sulaymán Khán-i-Afshar, assisted by a company of forty-five officers of tried ability and matured experience. From each of these hot and fierce engagements Mullá Husayn emerged, in spite of the overwhelming forces arrayed against him, unscathed and triumphant. In each encounter he distinguished himself by such acts of valour, of chivalry, of skill, and of strength that each one would alone suffice to establish for all time the transcendent character of a Faith for the protection of which he had so valiantly fought, and in the path of which he had so nobly died. The traits of mind and of character which, from his very youth, he displayed, the profundity of his learning, the tenacity of his faith, his intrepid courage, his singleness of purpose, his high sense of justice and unswerving devotion, marked him as an outstanding figure among those who, by their lives, have borne witness to the glory and power of the new Revelation. He was six and thirty years old when he quaffed the cup of martyrdom. At the age of eighteen he made the acquaintance, in Karbilá, of Siyyid Kázim-i-Rashtí. For nine years he sat at his feet, and imbibed the lesson which was destined to prepare him for the acceptance of the Message of the Báb. The nine remaining years of his life were spent in the midst of a restless, a feverish activity which carried him eventually to the field of martyrdom, in circumstances that have shed imperishable lustre upon his country’s history. 12 384
So complete and humiliating a rout paralysed for a time the efforts of the enemy. Five and forty days passed before they could again reassemble their forces and renew their attack. During these intervening days, which ended with the day of Naw-Rúz, the intense cold which prevailed induced them to defer their venture against an opponent that had covered them with so much reproach and shame. Though their attacks had been suspended, the officers in charge of the remnants of the imperial army had given strict orders prohibiting the arrival of all manner of reinforcements at the fort. When the supply of their provisions was nearly exhausted, Quddús instructed Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir to distribute among his companions the rice which Mullá Husayn had stored for such time as might be required. When each had received his portion, Quddús summoned them and said: “Whoever feels himself strong enough to withstand the calamities that are soon to befall us, let him remain with us in this fort. And whoever perceives in himself the least hesitation and fear, let him betake himself away from this place. Let him leave immediately ere the enemy has again assembled his forces and assailed us. The way will soon be barred before our face; we shall very soon encounter the severest hardship and fall a victim to devastating afflictions.”
The very night Quddús had given this warning, a siyyid from Qum, Mírzá Husayn-i-Mutavallí, was moved to betray his companions. “Why is it,” he wrote to Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání, “that you have left unfinished the work 385 which you have begun? You have already disposed of a formidable opponent. By the removal of Mullá Husayn, who was the moving force behind these walls, you have demolished the pillar on which the strength and security of the fort depend. Had you been patient for one more day, you would have assuredly won for yourself the laurels of victory. With no more than a hundred men, I pledge my word that within the space of two days you will be able to capture the fort and secure the unconditional surrender of its occupants. They are worn with famine and are being grievously tested.” The sealed letter was entrusted to a certain Siyyid ‘Alíy-i-Zargar, who, as he carried with him the share of the rice he had received from Quddús, stole out of the fort at the hour of midnight and delivered it to Abbás-Qulí Khán, with whom he was already acquainted. The message reached him at a time when he had sought refuge in a village situated at a distance of four farsangs 13 from the fort, and knew not whether he should return to the capital and present himself after such a humiliating defeat to his sovereign, or repair to his home in Laríján, where he was sure to face the reproaches of his relations and friends.
He had just risen from his bed when, at the hour of sunrise, the siyyid brought him the letter. The news of the death of Mullá Husayn nerved him to a fresh resolve. Fearing 386 lest the messenger should spread the report concerning the death of so redoubtable an opponent, he instantly killed him, and then contrived by some strange device to divert from himself the suspicion of murder. Resolved to take the fullest advantage of the distress of the besieged and of the depletion of their forces, he undertook immediately the necessary preparations for the resumption of his attacks. Ten days before Naw-Rúz, he had encamped at half a farsang from the fort, and had ascertained the accuracy of the message that treacherous siyyid had brought him. In the hope of obtaining for himself every possible credit for the eventual surrender of his opponents, he refused to divulge, to even his closest officers, the information he had received.
The day had just broken when he hoisted his standard 14 and, marching at the head of two regiments of infantry and cavalry, encompassed the fort and ordered his men to open fire upon the sentinels who were guarding the turrets. “The betrayer,” Quddús informed Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir, who had hastened to acquaint him with the gravity of the situation, “has announced the death of Mullá Husayn to Abbás-Qulí Khán. Emboldened by his removal, he is now determined to storm our stronghold and to secure for himself the honour of being its sole conqueror. Sally out and, with the aid of eighteen men marching at your side, administer a befitting chastisement upon the aggressor and his host. Let him realise that though Mullá Husayn be no more, God’s 387 invincible power still continues to sustain his companions and enable them to triumph over the forces of their enemies.”
No sooner had Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir selected his companions than he ordered that the gate of the fort be flung open. Leaping upon their chargers and raising the cry of “Yá Sáhibu’z-Zamán!” they plunged headlong into the camp of the enemy. The whole army fled in confusion before so terrific a charge. All but a few were able to escape. They reached Barfurúsh utterly demoralised and laden with shame. Abbás-Qulí Khán was so shaken with fear that he fell from his horse. Leaving, in his distress, one of his boots hanging from the stirrup, he ran away, half shod and bewildered, in the direction which the army had taken. Filled with despair, he hastened to the prince and confessed the ignominious reverse he had sustained. 15 Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir, on his part, emerging together with his eighteen companions unscathed from that encounter, and holding in his hand the 388 standard which an affrighted enemy had abandoned, repaired with exultation to the fort and submitted to his chief, who had inspired him with such courage, this evidence of his victory.
So complete a rout immediately brought relief to the hard-pressed companions. It cemented their unity and reminded them afresh of the efficacy of that power with which their Faith had endowed them. Their food, alas, was by this time reduced to the flesh of horses, which they had brought away with them from the deserted camp of the enemy. With steadfast fortitude they endured the afflictions which beset them from every side. Their hearts were set on the wishes of Quddús; all else mattered but little. Neither the severity of their distress nor the continual threats of the enemy could cause them to deviate a hairbreadth from the path which their departed companions had so heroically trodden. A few were found who subsequently faltered in the darkest hour of adversity. The faint-heartedness which this negligible element was compelled to betray paled, however, into insignificance before the radiance which the mass of their stouthearted companions shed in the hour of realised doom. 389
Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá, who was stationed in Sarí, welcomed with keen delight the news of the defeat that had overtaken the forces under the immediate command of his colleague Abbás-Qulí Khán. Though himself desirous of extirpating the band that had sought shelter behind the walls of the fort, he rejoiced at the knowledge that his rival had failed to secure the victory which he coveted. 16 He wrote immediately to Tihrán and demanded that reinforcements in the form of bomb-shells and camel-artillery, with all the necessary equipments, be despatched without delay to the neighbourhood of the fort, he being determined, this time, to effect the complete subjugation of its obstinate occupants.
Whilst their enemies were preparing for yet another and still fiercer attack upon their stronghold, the companions of Quddús, utterly indifferent to the gnawing distress that afflicted them, acclaimed with joy and gratitude the approach of Naw-Rúz. In the course of that festival, they gave free vent to their feelings of thanksgiving and praise in return for the manifold blessings which the Almighty had bestowed upon them. Though oppressed with hunger, they indulged in songs and merriment, utterly disdaining the danger with which they were beset. The fort resounded with the ascriptions of glory and praise which, both in the daytime and in the night-season, ascended from the hearts of that joyous band. The verse, “Holy, holy, the Lord our God, the Lord of the angels and the spirit,” issued unceasingly from their lips, heightened their enthusiasm, and reanimated their courage.
All that remained of the cattle they had brought with them to the fort was a cow which Hájí Nasiru’d-Dín-i-Qazvíní had set aside, and the milk of which he made into a pudding every day for the table of Quddús. Unwilling to 390 deny his hunger-stricken friends their share of the delicacy which his devoted companion prepared for him, Quddús would, after partaking of a few teaspoonfuls of that dish, invariably distribute the rest among them. “I have ceased to enjoy,” he was often heard to remark, “since the departure of Mullá Husayn, the meat and drink which they prepare for me. My heart bleeds at the sight of my famished companions, worn and wasted around me.” Despite these adverse circumstances, he unfailingly continued further to elucidate in his commentary the significance of the Sád of Samad, and to exhort his friends to persevere till the vary end in their heroic endeavours. At morn and at eventide, Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir would chant, in the presence of the assembled believers, verses from that commentary, the reading of which would quicken their enthusiasm and brighten their hopes.
I have heard Mullá Mírzá Muhammad-i-Furúghí testify to the following: “God knows that we had ceased to hunger for food. Our thoughts were no longer concerned with matters pertaining to our daily bread. We were so enraptured by the entrancing melody of those verses that, were we to have continued for years in that state, no trace of weariness and fatigue could possibly have dimmed our enthusiasm or marred our gladness. And whenever the lack of nourishment would tend to sap our vitality and weaken our strength, Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir would hasten to Quddús and acquaint him with our plight. A glimpse of his face, the magic of his words, as he walked amongst us, would transmute our despondency into golden joy. We were reinforced with a strength of such intensity that, had the hosts of our enemies appeared suddenly before us, we felt ourselves capable of subjugating their forces.”
On the day of Naw-Rúz, which fell on the twenty-fourth of Rabí’u’th-Thání in the year 1265 A.H., 17 Quddús alluded, in a written message to his companions, to the approach of such trials as would bring in their wake the martyrdom of a considerable number of his friends. A few days later, an innumerable host, 18 commanded by Prince Mihdí-Qulí 391 Mírzá 19 and seconded by the joint forces of Sulaymán Khán-i-Afshar, of Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání, and of Ja’far-Qulí Khán, assisted by about forty other officers, encamped in the neighbourhood of the fort, and set about constructing a series of trenches and barricades in its immediate vicinity. 20 On the ninth day of the month of Bahá, 21 the commanding officer gave orders to those in charge of his artillery to open fire in the direction of the besieged. While the bombardment was in progress, Quddús emerged from his room and walked to the centre of the fort. His face was wreathed in smiles, and his demeanour breathed forth the utmost tranquillity. As he was pacing the floor, a cannon-ball fell suddenly before him. “How utterly unaware,” he calmly remarked, as he rolled it with his foot, “are these boastful aggressors of the power of God’s avenging wrath! Have they forgotten that a creature as insignificant as the gnat was capable of extinguishing 392 the life of the all-powerful Nimrod? Have they not heard that the roaring of the tempest was sufficient to destroy the people of ‘Ád and Thámúd and to annihilate their forces? Seek they to intimidate the heroes of God, in whose sight the pomp of royalty is but an empty shadow, with such contemptible evidences of their cruelty?” “You are,” he added, as he turned to his friends, “those same companions of whom Muhammad, the Apostle of God, has thus spoken: ‘Oh, how I long to behold the countenance of my brethren; my brethren who will appear in the end of the world! Blessed are we, blessed are they; greater is their blessedness than ours.’ Beware lest you allow the encroachments of self and desire to impair so glorious a station. Fear not the threats of the wicked, neither be dismayed by the clamour of the ungodly. Each one of you has his appointed hour, and when that time is come, neither the assaults of your enemy nor the endeavours of your friends will be able either to retard or to advance that hour. If the powers of the earth league themselves against you, they will be powerless, ere that hour strikes, to lessen by one jot or tittle the span of your life. Should you allow your hearts to be agitated for but one moment by the booming of these guns which, with increasing violence, will continue to shower their shot upon this fort, you will have cast yourselves out of the stronghold of Divine protection.”
So powerful an appeal could not fail to breathe confidence into the hearts of those who heard it. A few, however, whose countenances betrayed vacillation and fear, were seen huddled together in a sheltered corner of the fort, viewing with envy and surprise the zeal that animated their companions. 22 393
The army of Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá continued for a few days to fire in the direction of the fort. His men were surprised to find that the booming of their guns had failed to silence the voice of prayer and the acclamations of joy which the besieged raised in answer to their threats. Instead of the unconditional surrender which they expected, the call of the muadhdhín, 23 the chanting of the verses of the Qur’án, and the chorus of gladsome voices intoning hymns of thanksgiving and praise reached their ears without ceasing.
Exasperated by these evidences of unquenchable fervour and impelled by a burning desire to extinguish the enthusiasm which swelled within the breasts of his opponents, Ja’far-qulí Khán erected a tower, upon which he stationed his cannon, 24 and from that eminence directed his fire into the heart of the fort. Quddús immediately summoned Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir and instructed him to sally again and inflict upon the “boastful newcomer” a humiliation no less crushing than the one which Abbás-Qulí Khán had suffered. 394 “Let him know,” he added, “that God’s lion-hearted warriors, when pressed and driven by hunger, are able to manifest deeds of such heroism as no ordinary mortals can show. Let him know that the greater their hunger, the more devastating shall be the effects of their exasperation.”
Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir again ordered eighteen of his companions to hurry to their steeds and follow him. The gates of the fort were thrown open, and the cry of “Yá Sáhibu’z-Zamán!”—fiercer and more thrilling than ever—diffused panic and consternation in the ranks of the enemy. Ja’far-Qulí Khán, with thirty of his men, fell before the sword of their adversary, who rushed to the tower, captured the guns, and hurled them to the ground. Thence they threw themselves upon the barricade which had been erected, demolished a number of them, and would, but for the approaching darkness, have captured and destroyed the rest.
Triumphant and unhurt, they repaired to the fort, carrying back with them a number of the stoutest and best-fed stallions which had been left behind. A few days elapsed during which there was no sign of a counter-attack. 25 A sudden explosion in one of the ammunition stores of the enemy, which had caused the death of several artillery officers and a number of their fellow-combatants, forced them for one whole month to suspend their attacks upon the garrison. 26 This lull enabled a number of the companions to emerge occasionally from their stronghold and gather such grass as they could find in the field as the only means wherewith to 395 allay their hunger. The flesh of horses, even the leather of their saddles, had been consumed by these hard-pressed companions. They boiled the grass and devoured it with piteous avidity. 27 As their strength declined, as they languished exhausted within the walls of their fort, Quddús multiplied his visits to them, and endeavoured by his words of cheer and of hope to lighten the load of their agony.
The month of Jamádiyu’th-Thání 28 had just begun when the artillery of the enemy was heard again discharging its showers of balls upon the fort. Simultaneously with the booming of the cannons, a detachment of the army, headed by a number of officers and consisting of several regiments of infantry and cavalry, rushed to storm it. The sound of their approach impelled Quddús to summon promptly his valiant lieutenant, Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir, and to bid him emerge with thirty-six of his companions and repulse their attack. 396 “Never since our occupation of this fort,” he added, “have we under any circumstances attempted to direct any offensive against our opponents. Not until they unchained their attack upon us did we arise to defend our lives. Had we cherished the ambition of waging holy war against them, had we harboured the least intention of achieving ascendancy through the power of our arms over the unbelievers, we should not, until this day, have remained besieged within these walls. The force of our arms would have by now, as was the case with the companions of Muhammad in days past, convulsed the nations of the earth and prepared them for the acceptance of our Message. Such is not the way, however, which we have chosen to tread. Ever since we repaired to this fort, our sole, our unalterable purpose has been the vindication, by our deeds and by our readiness to shed our blood in the path of our Faith, of the exalted character of our mission. The hour is fast approaching when we shall be able to consummate this task.”
Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir once more leaped on horseback and, with the thirty-six companions whom he had selected, confronted and scattered the forces which had beset him. He carried with him, as he re-entered the gate, the banner which an alarmed enemy had abandoned as soon as the reverberating cry of “Yá Sáhibu’z-Zamán!” had been raised. Five of his companions suffered martyrdom in the course of that engagement, all of whom he bore to the fort and interred in one tomb close to the resting place of their fallen brethren.
Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá, astounded by this further evidence of the inexhaustible vitality of his opponents, took counsel with the chiefs of his staff, urging them to devise such means as would enable him to bring that costly enterprise to a speedy end. For three days he deliberated with them, and finally came to the conclusion that the most advisable course to take would be to suspend all manner of hostilities for a few days in the hope that the besieged, exhausted with hunger and goaded by despair, would decide to emerge from their retreat and submit to an unconditional surrender.
As the prince was waiting for the consummation of the plan he had conceived, there arrived from Tihrán a messenger 397 bearing to him the farmán 29 of his sovereign. This man was a resident of the village of Kand, a place not far from the capital. He succeeded in obtaining leave from the prince to enter the fort and attempt to induce two of its occupants, Mullá Mihdí and his brother Mullá Báqir-i-Kandí, to escape from the imminent danger to which their lives were exposed. As he approached its walls, he called the sentinels and asked them to inform Mullá Mihdiy-Kandí that an acquaintance of his desired to see him. Mullá Mihdí reported the matter to Quddús, who permitted him to meet his friend.
I have heard Áqáy-i-Kalím give the following account, as related to him by that same messenger whom he met in Tihrán: “‘I saw,’ the messenger informed me, ‘Mullá Mihdí appear above the wall of the fort, his countenance revealing an expression of stern resolve that baffled description. He looked as fierce as a lion, his sword was girded on over a long white shirt after the manner of the Arabs, and he had a white kerchief around his head. “What is it that you seek?” he impatiently enquired. “Say it quickly, for I fear that my master will summon me and find me absent.” The determination that glowed in his eyes confused me. I was dumbfounded at his looks and manner. The thought suddenly flashed through my mind that I would awaken a dormant sentiment in his heart. I reminded him of his infant child, Rahmán, whom he had left behind in the village, in his eagerness to enlist under the standard of Mullá Husayn. In his great affection for the child, he had specially composed a poem which he chanted as he rocked his cradle and lulled him to sleep. “Your beloved Rahmán,” I said, “longs for the affection which you once lavished upon him. He is alone and forsaken, and yearns to see you.” “Tell him from me,” was the father’s instant reply, “that the love of the true Rahmán, 30 a love that transcends all earthly affections, has so filled my heart that it has left no place for any other it love besides His.” The poignancy with which he uttered these words brought tears to my eyes. “Accursed,” I indignantly exclaimed, “be those who consider you and your fellow-disciples as having strayed from the path of God!” 398 “What,” I asked him, “if I venture to enter the fort and join you?” “If your motive be to seek and find the Truth,” he calmly replied, “I will gladly show you the way. And if you seek to visit me as an old and lifelong friend, I will accord you the welcome of which the Prophet of God has spoken: ‘Welcome your guests though they be of the infidels.’ I will, faithful to that injunction, offer you the boiled grass and the churned bones which serve as my meat, the best I can procure for you. But if your intention be to harm me, I warn you that I will defend myself and will hurl you from the heights of these walls to the ground.” His unswerving obstinacy convinced me of the futility of my efforts. I could feel that he was fired with such enthusiasm that, were the divines of the realm to assemble and endeavour to dissuade him from the course he had chosen to pursue, he would, alone and unaided, baffle their efforts. Neither, was I convinced, could all the potentates of the earth succeed in luring him away from the Beloved of his heart’s desire. “May the cup,” I was moved to say, “which your lips have tasted, bring you all the blessings you seek.” “The prince,” I added, “has vowed that whoever steps out of this fort will be secure from danger, that he will even receive a safe passage from him, as well as whatever expenses he may require for the journey to his home.” He promised to convey the prince’s message to his fellow-companions. “Is there anything further you wish to tell me?” he added. “I am impatient to join my master.” “May God,” I replied, “assist you in accomplishing your purpose.” “He has indeed assisted me!” he burst forth in exultation. “How else could I have been delivered from the darkness of my prison-home in Kand? How could I have reached this exalted stronghold?” No sooner had he uttered these words than, turning his face away from me, he vanished from my sight.’”
As soon as he had joined his companions, Mullá Mihdí conveyed the prince’s message to them. On the afternoon of that same day, Siyyid Mírzá Husayn-i-Mutavallí, accompanied by his servant, left the fort and went directly to join the prince in his camp. The next day, Rasul-i-Bahnimírí and a few other of his companions, unable to resist the ravages of famine, and encouraged by the explicit assurances 399 or the prince, sadly and reluctantly separated themselves from their friends. No sooner had they stepped out of the fort than they were all instantly slain at the order of Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání.
During the few days that elapsed after that incident, the enemy, still encamped in the neighbourhood of the fort, refrained from any act of hostility towards Quddús and his companions. On Wednesday morning, the sixteenth of Jamádiyu’th-Thání, 31 an emissary of the prince arrived at the fort and requested that two representatives be delegated by the besieged to conduct confidential negotiations with them in the hope of arriving at a peaceful settlement of the issues outstanding between them. 32
Accordingly, Quddús instructed Mullá Yúsúf-i-Ardibílí and Siyyid Ridáy-i-Khurásání to act as his representatives, and bade them inform the prince of his readiness to accede to his wish. Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá courteously received them, and invited them to partake of the tea which he had prepared. “We should,” they said, as they declined his offer, “feel it to be an act of disloyalty on our part were we to partake of either meat or drink whilst our beloved leader languishes worn and famished in the fort.” “The hostilities between us,” the prince remarked, “have been unduly prolonged. We, on both sides, have fought long and suffered grievously. It is my fervent wish to achieve an amicable settlement of our differences.” He took hold of a copy of the Qur’án that lay beside him, and wrote, with his own hand, in confirmation of his statement, the following words on the margin of the opening Súrih: “I swear by this most holy Book, by the righteousness of God who has revealed it, and the Mission of Him who was inspired with its verses, that I cherish no other purpose than to promote peace and friendliness between us. Come forth from your stronghold and rest assured that no hand will be stretched forth against you. You yourself 400 and your companions, I solemnly declare, are under the sheltering protection of the Almighty, of Muhammad, His Prophet, and of Násiri’d-Dín Sháh, our sovereign. I pledge my honour that no man, either in this army or in this neighbourhood, will ever attempt to assail you. The malediction of God, the omnipotent Avenger, rest upon me if in my heart I cherish any other desire than that which I have stated.
He affixed his seal to his statement and, delivering the Qur’án into the hands of Mullá Yúsúf, asked him to convey his greetings to his leader and to present him this formal and written assurance. “I will,” he added, “in pursuance of my declaration, despatch to the gate of the fort, this very afternoon, a number of horses, which I trust he and his leading companions will accept and mount, in order to ride to the neighbourhood of this camp, where a special tent will have been pitched for their reception. I would request them to be our guests until such time as I shall be able to arrange for their return, at my expense, to their homes.”
Quddús received the Qur’án from the hand of his messenger, kissed it reverently, and said: “O our Lord, decide between us and between our people with truth; for the best to decide art Thou.” 33 Immediately after, he bade the rest of his companions prepare themselves to leave the fort. “By our response to their invitation,” he told them, “we shall enable them to demonstrate the sincerity of their intentions.”
As the hour of their departure approached, Quddús attired his head with the green turban which the Báb had sent to him at the time He sent the one that Mullá Husayn wore on the day of his martyrdom. At the gate of the fort, they mounted the horses which had been placed at their disposal, Quddús mounting the favourite steed of the prince which the latter had sent for his use. His chief companions, among whom were a number of siyyids and learned divines, rode behind him, and were followed by the rest, who marched on foot, carrying with them all that was left of their arms and belongings. As the company, who were two hundred and two in number, reached the tent which the prince had ordered to be pitched for Quddús in the vicinity of the public bath 401 of the village of Dizva, overlooking the camp of the enemy, they alighted and proceeded to occupy their lodgings in the neighbourhood of that tent.
Soon after their arrival, Quddús emerged from his tent and, gathering together his companions, addressed them in these words: “You should show forth exemplary renunciation, for such behaviour on your part will exalt our Cause and redound to its glory. Anything short of complete detachment will but serve to tarnish the purity of its name and to obscure its splendour. Pray the Almighty to grant that even to your last hour He may graciously assist you to contribute your share to the exaltation of His Faith.”
A few hours after sunset, they were served with dinner brought from the camp of the prince. The food that was offered them in separate trays, each of which was assigned to a group of thirty companions, was poor and scanty. “Nine of us,” those who were with Quddús subsequently related, “were summoned by our leader to partake of the dinner which had been served in his tent. As he refused to taste it, we too, following his example, refrained from eating. The attendants who waited upon us were delighted to partake of the dishes which we had refused to touch, and devoured their contents with appreciation and avidity.” A few of the companions 402 who were dining outside the tent were heard remonstrating with the attendants, pleading that they were willing to buy from them, at however exorbitant a price, the bread which they needed. Quddús strongly disapproved of their conduct and rebuked them for the request they had made. But for the intercession of Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir, he would have severely punished them for having so completely disregarded his earnest exhortations.
At daybreak a messenger arrived, summoning Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir to the presence of the prince. With the consent of Quddús, he responded to that invitation, and returned an hour later, informing his chief that the prince had, in the presence of Sulaymán Khán-i-Afshar, reiterated the assurances he had given, and had treated him with great consideration and kindness. “‘My oath,’ he assured me,” Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir explained, “‘is irrevocable and sacred.’ He cited the case of Ja’far-Qulí Khán, who, notwithstanding his shameless massacre of thousands of soldiers of the imperial army, in the course of the insurrection fomented by the Salar, was pardoned by his sovereign and promptly invested with fresh honours by Muhammad Sháh. To-morrow the prince intends to accompany you in the morning to the public bath, from whence he will proceed to your tent, after which he will provide the horses required to convey the entire company to Sang-Sar, from where they will disperse, some returning to their homes in ‘Iráq, and others proceeding to Khurásán. At the request of Sulaymán Khán, who urged that the presence of such a large gathering at such a fortified centre as Sang-Sar would be fraught with risk, the prince decided that the party should disperse, instead, at Fírúz-Kúh. I am of opinion that what his tongue professes, his heart does not believe at all.” Quddús, who shared his view, bade his companions disperse that very night, and stated that he himself would soon proceed to Barfurúsh. They hastened to implore him not to separate himself from them, and begged to be allowed to continue to enjoy the blessings of his companionship. He counselled them to be calm and patient, and assured them that, whatever afflictions the future might yet reveal, they would meet again. “Weep not,” were his parting words; “the reunion which will follow this separation 403 will be such as shall eternally endure. We have committed our Cause to the care of God; whatever be His will and pleasure, the same we joyously accept.”
The prince failed to redeem his promise. Instead of joining Quddús in his tent, he called him, with several of his companions, to his headquarters, and informed him, as soon as they reached the tent of the Farrásh-Báshí, 34 that he himself would summon him at noon to his presence. Shortly after, a number of the prince’s attendants went and told the rest of the companions that Quddús permitted them to join him at the army’s headquarters. Several of them were deceived by this report, were made captives, and were eventually sold as slaves. These unfortunate victims constitute the remnant of the companions of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsí, who survived that heroic struggle and were spared to transmit to their countrymen the woeful tale of their sufferings and trials.
Soon after, the prince’s attendants brought pressure to bear upon Mullá Yúsúf to inform the remainder of his companions of the desire of Quddús that they immediately disarm. “What is it that you will tell them exactly?” they asked him, as he was being conducted to a place at some distance from the army’s headquarters. “I will,” was the bold reply, “warn them that whatever be henceforth the nature of the message you choose to deliver to them on behalf of their leader, that message is naught but downright falsehood.” These words had hardly escaped his lips when he was mercilessly put to death.
From this savage act they turned their attention to the fort, plundered it of its contents, and proceeded to bombard and demolish it completely. 35 They then immediately encompassed the remaining companions and opened fire upon them. Any who escaped the bullets were killed by the swords of the officers and the spears of their men. 36 In the 404 very throes of death, these unconquerable heroes were still heard to utter the words, “Holy, holy, O Lord our God, Lord of the angels and the spirit,” words which in moments of exultation had fallen from their lips, and which they now repeated with undiminished fervour at this crowning hour of their lives.
As soon as these atrocities hath been perpetrated, the prince ordered those who had been retained as captives to be ushered, one after another, into his presence. Those among them who were men of recognised standing, such as the father of Badí, 37 Mullá Mírzá Muhammad-i-Furúghí, and Hájí Násiri’d-Qazvíní, 38 he charged his attendants to conduct to Tihrán and obtain in return for their deliverance a ransom from each one of them in direct proportion to their capacity and wealth. As to the rest, he gave orders to his executioners that they be immediately put to death. A few were cut to pieces with the sword, 39 others were torn asunder, a number were bound to trees and riddled with bullets, and still others were blown 405 from the mouths of cannons and consigned to the flames. 40
This terrible butchery had hardly been concluded when three of the companions of Quddús, who were residents of Sang-Sar, were ushered into the presence of the prince. One of them was Siyyid Ahmad, whose father, Mír Muhammad-‘Alí, a devoted admirer of Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsá’í, had been a man of great learning and distinguished merit. He, accompanied by this same Siyyid Ahmad and his brother, Mír Abu’l-Qásim, who met his death the very night on which Mullá Husayn was slain, had departed for Karbilá in the year preceding the declaration of the Báb, with the intention of introducing his two sons to Siyyid Kázim. Ere his arrival, the siyyid had departed this life. He immediately determined to leave for Najaf. While in that city, the Prophet Muhammad one night appeared to him in a dream, bidding the Imám ‘Alí, the Commander of the Faithful, announce to him that after his death both his sons, Siyyid Ahmad and Mír Abu’l-Qásim, would attain the presence of the promised Qá’im and would each suffer martyrdom in His path. As soon as he awoke, he called for his son Siyyid Ahmad and acquainted him with his will and last wishes. On the seventh day after that dream he died.
In Sang-Sar two other persons, Karbilá’í ‘Alí and Karbilá’í Abú-Muhammad, both known for their piety and spiritual insight, strove to prepare the people for the acceptance of 406 the promised Revelation, the advent of which they felt was fast approaching. In the year 1264 A.H. 41 they publicly announced that in that very year a man named Siyyid ‘Alí would, preceded by a Black Standard and accompanied by a number of his chosen companions, set forth from Khurásán and proceed to Mázindarán. They urged every loyal adherent of Islám to arise and lend him every possible assistance. “The standard which he will hoist,” they declared, “will be none other than the standard of the promised Qá’im; he who will unfurl it, none other than His lieutenant and chief promoter of His Cause. Whoso follows him will be saved, and he who turns away will be among the fallen.” Karbilá’í Abú-Muhammad urged his two sons, Abu’l-Qásim and Muhammad-‘Alí, to arise for the triumph of the new Revelation and to sacrifice every material consideration for the attainment of that end. Both Karbilá’í Abú-Muhammad and Karbilá’í ‘Alí died in the spring of that same year.
These two sons of Karbilá’í Abú-Muhammad were the two companions who had been ushered, together with Siyyid Ahmad, into the presence of the prince. Mullá Zaynu’l-‘Abidin-i-Sháhmírzádí, one of the trusted and learned counsellors of the government, acquainted the prince with their story and related the experiences and activities of their respective fathers. “For what reason,” Siyyid Ahmad was asked, “have you chosen to tread a path that has involved you and your kinsmen in such circumstances of wretchedness and disgrace? Could you not have been satisfied with the vast number of erudite and illustrious divines who are to be found in this land and in ‘Iráq?” “My faith in this Cause,” he fearlessly retorted, “is born not of idle imitation. I have dispassionately enquired into its precepts, and am convinced of its truth. When in Najaf, I ventured to request the preeminent mujtahid of that city, Shaykh Muhammad-Hasan-i-Najafí, to expound for me certain truths connected with the secondary principles underlying the teachings of Islám. He refused to accede to my request. I reiterated my appeal, whereupon he angrily rebuked me and persisted in his refusal. How can I, in the light of such experience, be expected to seek enlightenment on the abstruse articles of the Faith 407 of Islám from a divine, however illustrious, who refuses to answer my question on such simple and ordinary matters and who expresses his indignation at my having put such questions to him?” “What is your belief concerning Hájí Muhammad-‘Alí?” asked the prince. “We believe,” he replied, “Mullá Husayn to have been the bearer of the standard of which Muhammad has spoken: ‘Should your eyes behold the Black Standards proceeding from Khurásán, hasten ye towards them, even though ye should have to crawl over the snow.’ For this reason we have renounced the world and have flocked to his standard, a standard which is but a symbol of our Faith. If you wish to bestow upon me a favour, bid your executioner put an end to me and enable me to be gathered to the company of my immortal companions. For the world and all its charms have ceased to allure me. I long to depart this life and return to my God.” The prince, who was reluctant to take the life of a siyyid, refused to order his execution. His two companions, however, were immediately put to death. He, with his brother Siyyid Abú-Talíb, was delivered into the hands of Mullá Zaynu’l-Ábidín, who was instructed to conduct them to Sang-Sar.
Meanwhile Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí, accompanied by seven of the ‘ulamás of Sarí, set out from that town to share in the meritorious act of inflicting the punishment of death upon the companions of Quddús. When they found that they had already been put to death, Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí urged the prince to reconsider his decision and to order the immediate execution of Siyyid Ahmad, pleading that his arrival at Sarí would be the signal for fresh disturbances as grave as those which had already afflicted them. The prince eventually yielded, on the express condition that he be regarded as his guest until his own arrival at Sarí, at which time he would take whatever measures were required to prevent him from disturbing the peace of the neighbourhood.
No sooner had Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí taken the direction of Sarí than he proceeded to vilify Siyyid Ahmad and his father. “Why ill-treat a guest,” his captive pleaded, “whom the prince has committed to your charge? Why ignore the Prophet’s injunction, ‘Honour thy guest though he be an infidel’?” Roused to a burst of fury, Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí, 408 together with his seven companions, drew their swords and cut his body to pieces. With his last breath Siyyid Ahmad was heard invoking the aid of the Sáhibu’z-Zamán. As to his brother Siyyid Abú-Talíb, he was safely conducted to Sang-Sar by Mullá Zaynu’l-Ábidín, and to this day resides with his brother Siyyid Muhammad-Ridá in Mázindarán. Both are engaged in the service of the Cause and are accounted among its active supporters.
As soon as his work was completed, the prince, accompanied by Quddús, returned to Barfurúsh. They arrived on Friday afternoon, the eighteenth of Jamádiyu’th-Thání. 42 The Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’, together with all the ‘ulamás of the town, came out to welcome the prince and to extend their congratulations on his triumphal return. The whole town was beflagged to celebrate the victory, and the bonfires which blazed at night witnessed to the joy with which a grateful population greeted the return of the prince. Three days of festivities elapsed during which he gave no indication as to his intention regarding the fate of Quddús. He vacillated in his policy, and was extremely reluctant to ill-treat his captive. He at first refused to allow the people to gratify their feelings of unrelenting hatred, and was able to restrain their fury. He had originally intended to conduct him to Tihrán and, by delivering him into the hands of his sovereign, to relieve himself of the responsibility which weighed upon him.
The Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’’s unquenchable hostility, however, interfered with the execution of this plan. The hatred with which Quddús and his Cause inspired him blazed into furious rage as he witnessed the increasing evidences of the prince’s inclination to allow so formidable an opponent to slip from his grasp. Day and night he remonstrated with him and, with every cunning that his resourceful brain could devise, sought to dissuade him from pursuing a policy which he thought to be at once disastrous and cowardly. In the fury of his despair, he appealed to the mob and sought, by inflaming their passions, to awaken the basest sentiments of revenge in their hearts. The whole of Barfurúsh had been aroused by the persistency of his call. His diabolical skill 409 soon won him the sympathy and support of the masses. “I have vowed,” he imperiously protested, “to deny myself both food and sleep until such time as I am able to end the life of Hájí Muhammad-‘Alí with my own hands!” The threats of an agitated multitude reinforced his plea and succeeded in arousing the apprehensions of the prince. Fearing that his own life might be endangered, he summoned to his presence the leading ‘ulamás of Barfurúsh for the purpose of consulting as to the measures that should be taken to allay the tumult of popular excitement. All those who had been invited responded with the exception of Mullá Muhammad-i-Hamzih, who pleaded to be excused from attending that meeting. He had previously, on several occasions, endeavoured, during the siege of the fort, to persuade the people to refrain from violence. To him Quddús, a few days before his abandonment of the fort, had committed, through one of his trusted companions of Mázindarán, a locked saddlebag containing the text of his own interpretation of the Sád of Samad as well as all his other writings and papers that he had in his possession, the fate of which remains unknown until the present day.
No sooner had the ‘ulamás assembled than the prince gave orders for Quddús to be brought into their presence. Since the day of his abandoning the fort, Quddús, who had been delivered into the custody of the Farrásh-Báshí, had not been summoned to his presence. As soon as he arrived, the prince arose and invited him to be seated by his side. Turning to the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’, he urged that his conversations with him be dispassionately and conscientiously conducted. “Your discussions,” he asserted, “must revolve around, and be based upon, the verses of the Qur’án and the traditions of Muhammad, by which means alone you can demonstrate the truth or falsity of your contentions.” “For what reason,” the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’ impertinently enquired, “have you, by choosing to place a green turban upon your head, arrogated to yourself a right which only he who is a true descendant of the Prophet can claim? Do you not know that whoso defies this sacred tradition is accursed of God?” “Was Siyyid Murtadá,” Quddús calmly replied, “whom all the recognised ‘ulamás praise and esteem, a descendant of 410 the Prophet through his father or his mother?” One of those present at that gathering instantly declared the mother alone to have been a siyyid. “Why, then, object to me,” retorted Quddús, “since my mother was always recognised by the inhabitants of this town as a lineal descendant of the Imám Hasan? Was she not, because of her descent, honoured, nay venerated, by every one of you?”
No one dared to contradict him. The Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’ burst forth into a fit of indignation and despair. Angrily he flung his turban to the ground and arose to leave the meeting. “This man,” he thundered, ere he departed, “has succeeded in proving to you that he is a descendent of the Imám Hasan. He will, ere long, justify his claim to be the mouthpiece of God and the revealer of His will!” The prince was moved to make this declaration: “I wash my hands of all responsibility for any harm that may befall this man. You are free to do what you like with him. You will yourselves be answerable to God on the Day of Judgment.” Immediately after he had spoken these words, he called for his horse and, accompanied by his attendants, departed for Sarí. Intimidated by the imprecations of the ‘ulamás and forgetful of his oath, he abjectly surrendered Quddús to the hands of an unrelenting foe, those ravening wolves who panted for the moment when they could pounce, with uncontrolled violence, upon their prey, and let loose on him the fiercest passions of revenge and hate.
No sooner had the prince freed them from the restraints which he had exercised than the ‘ulamás and the people of Barfurúsh, acting under orders from the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’, 43 arose to perpetrate upon the body of their victim acts of such atrocious cruelty as no pen can describe. By the testimony of Bahá’u’lláh, that heroic youth, who was still on the threshold of his life, was subjected to such tortures and suffered 411 such a death as even Jesus had not faced in the hour of His greatest agony. The absence of any restraint on the part of the government authorities, the ingenious barbarity which the torture-mongers of Barfurúsh so ably displayed, the fierce fanaticism which glowed in the breasts of its shí’ah inhabitants, the moral support accorded to them by the dignitaries of Church and State in the capital—above all, the acts of heroism which their victim and his companions had accomplished and which had served to heighten their exasperation, all combined to nerve the hand of the assailants and to add to the diabolical ferocity which characterised his martyrdom.
Such were its circumstances that the Báb, who was then confined in the castle of Chihríq, was unable for a period of six months either to write or to dictate. The deep grief which he felt had stilled the voice of revelation and silenced His pen. How deeply He mourned His loss! What cries of anguish He must have uttered as the tale of the siege, the untold sufferings, the shameless betrayal, and the wholesale massacre of the companions of Shaykh Tabarsí reached His ears and was unfolded before His eyes! What pangs of sorrow He must have felt when He learned of the shameful treatment which His beloved Quddús had undergone in his hour of martyrdom at the hands of the people of Barfurúsh; how he was stripped of his clothes; how the turban which He had bestowed upon him had been befouled; how, barefooted, bareheaded, and loaded with chains, he was paraded through the streets, followed and scorned by the entire population of the town; how he was execrated and spat upon by the howling mob; how he was assailed with the knives and axes of the scum of its female inhabitants; how his body was pierced and mutilated, and how eventually it was delivered to the flames!
Amidst his torments, Quddús was heard whispering forgiveness to his foes. “Forgive, O my God,” he cried, “the trespasses of this people. Deal with them in Thy mercy, for they know not what we already have discovered and cherish. I have striven to show them the path that leads to their salvation; behold how they have risen to overwhelm and kill me! Show them, O God, the way of Truth, and turn their ignorance into faith.” In his hour of agony, the Siyyid-i-Qumí, 412 who had so treacherously deserted the fort, was seen passing by his side. Observing his helplessness, he smote him in the face. “You claimed,” he cried in haughty scorn, “that your voice was the voice of God. If you speak the truth, burst your bonds asunder and free yourself from the hands of your enemies.” Quddús looked steadfastly into his 413 face, sighed deeply, and said: “May God requite you for your deed, inasmuch as you have helped to add to the measure of my afflictions.” Approaching the Sabzih-Maydán, he raised his voice and said: “Would that my mother were with me, and could see with her own eyes the splendour of my nuptials!” He had scarcely spoken these words when the enraged multitude fell upon him and, tearing his body to pieces, threw the scattered members into the fire which they had kindled far that purpose. In the middle of the night, what still remained of the fragments of that burned and mutilated body was gathered by the hand of a devoted friend 44 and interred in a place not far distant from the scene of his martyrdom. 45
It would be appropriate at this juncture to place on record the names of those martyrs who participated in the defence of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsí, in the hope that generations yet to come may recall with pride and gratitude the names, no less than the deeds, of those pioneers who, by their life and death, have so greatly enriched the annals of God’s immortal Faith. Such names as I have been able to collect from various sources, and for which I am particularly indebted 414 to Ismu’lláhu’l-Mím, Ismu’lláhu’l-Javád, and Ismu’lláhu’l-Asad, I now proceed to enumerate, trusting that even as in the world beyond their souls have been invested with the light of unfading glory, their names may likewise linger for ever on the tongues of men; that their mention may continue to evoke a like spirit of enthusiasm and devotion in the hearts of those to whom this priceless heritage has been transmitted. From my informants I not only have been able to gather the names of most of those who fell in the course of that memorable siege, but have also succeeded in obtaining a representative, though incomplete, list of all those martyrs who, from the year ’60 46 until the present day, the latter part of the month of Rabí’u’l-Avval in the year 1306 A.H., 47 have laid down their lives in the path of the Cause of God. It is my intention to make mention of each of these names in connection with the particular event with which it is chiefly connected. As to those who quaffed the cup of martyrdom while defending the fort of Tabarsí, their names are as follows:
1. First and foremost among them stands Quddús, upon whom the Báb bestowed the name of Ismu’lláhu’l-Akhar. 48 He, the Last Letter of the Living and the Báb’s chosen companion 415 on His pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, was, together with Mullá Sádiq and Mullá ‘Alí-Akbar-i-Ardistání, the first to suffer persecution on Persian soil for the sake of the Cause of God. He was only eighteen years of age when he left his native town of Barfurúsh for Karbilá. For about four years he sat at the feet of Siyyid Kázim, and at the age of twenty-two met and recognised his Beloved in Shíráz. Five years later, on the twenty-third day of Jamádiyu’th-Thání in the year 1265 A.H., 49 he was destined to fall, in the Sabzih-Maydán of Barfurúsh, a victim of the most refined and wanton barbarity at the hands of the enemy. The Báb and, at a later time, Bahá’u’lláh have mourned in unnumbered Tablets and prayers his loss, and have lavished on him their eulogies. Such was the honour accorded to him by Bahá’u’lláh that in His commentary on the verse of Kullu’t-Tá’am, 50 which He revealed while in Baghdád, He conferred upon him the unrivalled station of the Nuqtiy-i-Ukhrá, 51 a station second to none except that of the Báb Himself. 52
2. Mullá Husayn, surnamed the Bábu’l-Báb, the first to recognise and embrace the new Revelation. At the age of eighteen, he, too, departed from his native town of Bushrúyih in Khurásán for Karbilá, and for a period of nine years 416 remained closely associated with Siyyid Kázim. Four years prior to the Declaration of the Báb, acting according to the instructions of Siyyid Kázim, he met in Isfahán the learned mujtahid Siyyid Báqir-i-Rashtí and in Mashhad Mírzá ‘Askarí, to both of whom he delivered with dignity and eloquence the messages with which he had been entrusted by his leader. The circumstances attending his martyrdom evoked the Báb’s inexpressible sorrow, a sorrow that found vent in eulogies and prayers of such great number as would be equivalent to thrice the volume of the Qur’án. In one of His visiting Tablets, the Báb asserts that the very dust of the ground where the remains of Mullá Husayn lie buried is endowed with such potency as to bring joy to the disconsolate and healing to the sick. In the Kitáb-i-Íqán, Bahá’u’lláh extols with still greater force the virtues of Mullá Husayn. “But for him,” He writes, “God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor have ascended the throne of eternal glory!” 53
3. Mírzá Muhammad-Hasan, the brother of Mullá Husayn.
4. Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir, the nephew of Mullá Husayn. He, as well as Mírzá Muhammad-Hasan, accompanied Mullá Husayn from Bushrúyih to Karbilá and from thence to Shíráz, where they embraced the Message of the Báb and were enrolled among the Letters of the Living. With the exception of the journey of Mullá Husayn to the castle of Máh-Kú, they continued to be with him until the time they suffered martyrdom in the fort of Tabarsí.
5. The brother-in-law of Mullá Husayn, the father of Mírzá Abu’l-Hasan and Mírzá Muhammad-Husayn, both of whom are now in Bushrúyih, and into whose hands the care of the Varaqatu’l-Firdaws, Mullá Husayn’s sister, is committed. Both are firm and devoted adherents of the Faith.
6. The son of Mullá Ahmad, the elder brother of Mullá Mírzá Muhammad-i-Furúghí. He, unlike his uncle, Mullá Mírzá Muhammad, suffered martyrdom and was, as testified by the latter, a youth of great piety and distinguished for his learning and his integrity of character. 417
7. Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir, known as Haratí, though originally a resident of Qayin. He was a close relative of the father of Nabíl-i-Akbar, and was the first in Mashhad to embrace the Cause. It was he who built the Bábíyyih, and who devotedly served Quddús during his sojourn in that city. When Mullá Husayn hoisted the Black Standard, he, together with his child, Mírzá Muhammad-Kázim, eagerly enrolled under his banner and went forth with him to Mázindarán. That child was saved eventually, and has now grown up into a fervent and active supporter of the Faith in Mashhad. It was Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir who acted as the standard-bearer of the company, who designed the plan of the fort, its walls and turrets and the moat which surrounded it, who succeeded Mullá Husayn in organising the forces of his companions and in leading the charge against the enemy, and who acted as the intimate companion, the lieutenant and trusted counsellor of Quddús until the hour when he fell a martyr in the path of the Cause.
8. Mírzá Muhammad-Taqíy-i-Juvayní, a native of Sabzihvar, who was distinguished for his literary accomplishments and was often entrusted by Mullá Husayn with the task of leading the charge against the assailants. His head and that of his fellow-companion, Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir, were impaled on spears and paraded through the streets of Barfurúsh, amid the shouts and howling of an excited populace.
9. Qambar-‘Alí, the fearless and faithful servant of Mullá Husayn, who accompanied him on his journey to Máh-Kú and who suffered martyrdom on the very night on which his master fell a victim to the bullets of the enemy.
10. Hasan and
11. Qulí, who, together with a man named Iskandar, a native of Zanján, bore the body of Mullá Husayn to the fort on the night of his martyrdom and placed it at the feet of Quddús. He it was, the same Hasan, who, by the orders of the chief constable of Mashhad, was led by a halter through the streets of that city.
12. Muhammad-Hasan, the brother of Mullá Sádiq, whom the comrades of Khusraw slew on the way between Barfurúsh and the fort of Tabarsí. He distinguished himself 418 by his unwavering constancy, and had been one of the servants of the shrine of the Imám Ridá.
13. Siyyid Ridá, who, with Mullá Yúsúf-i-Ardibílí, was commissioned by Quddús to meet the prince, and who brought back with him the sealed copy of the Qur’án bearing the oath which the prince had written. He was one of the well-known siyyids of Khurásán, and was recognised for his learning as well as for the integrity of his character.
14. Mullá Mardán-‘Alí, one of the noted companions from Khurásán, a resident of the village of Miyamay, the site of a well-fortified fortress situated between Sabzihvar and Sháh-Rud. He, together with thirty-three companions, enlisted under the banner of Mullá Husayn on the day of the latter’s passage through that village. It was in the masjid of Miyamay, to which Mullá Husayn had repaired in order to offer the Friday congregational prayer, that he delivered his soul-stirring appeal in which he laid stress upon the fulfilment of the tradition relating to the hoisting of the Black Standard in Khurásán, and in which he declared himself to be its bearer. His eloquent address profoundly impressed his hearers, so much so that on that very day the majority of those who heard him, most of whom were men of distinguished merit, arose and followed him. Only one of those thirty-three companions, a Mullá ‘Ísá, survived, whose sons are at present in the village of Miyamay, actively engaged in the service of the Cause. The names of the martyred companions of that village are as follows:
15. Mullá Muhammad-Mihdí,
16. Mullá Muhammad-Ja’far,
17. Mullá Muhammad-ibn-i-Mullá Muhammad,
18. Mullá Rahím,
19. Mullá Muhammad-Rida,
20. Mullá Muhammad-Husayn,
21. Mullá Muhammad,
22. Mullá Yúsúf,
23. Mullá Ya’qub,
24. Mullá ‘Alí,
25. Mullá Zaynu’l-Ábidín,
26. Mullá Muhammad, son of Mullá Zaynu’l-Ábidín,
27. Mullá Báqir, 419
28. Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Muhammad,
29. Mullá Abu’l-Hasan,
30. Mullá Ismá’íl,
31. Mullá ‘Abdu’l-‘Alí,
32. Mullá Áqá-Bábá,
33. Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Javád,
34. Mullá Muhammad-Husayn,
35. Mullá Muhammad-Báqir,
36. Mullá Muhammad,
37. Hájí Hasan,
38. Karbilá’í ‘Alí,
39. Mullá Karbilá’í ‘Alí,
40. Karbilá’í Núr-Muhammad,
41. Muhammad-Ibráhím,
42. Muhammad-Sa’im,
43. Muhammad-Hádí,
44. Siyyid Mihdí,
45. Abú-Muhammad.
Of the companions of the village of Sang-Sar, which forms part of the district of Simnán, eighteen were martyred. Their names are as follows:
46. Siyyid Ahmad, whose body was cut to pieces by Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí and the seven ‘ulamás of Sarí. He was a noted divine and greatly esteemed for his eloquence and piety.
47. Mír Abu’l-Qásim, Siyyid Ahmad’s brother, who won the crown of martyrdom on the very night on which Mullá Husayn met his death.
48. Mír Mihdí, the paternal uncle of Siyyid Ahmad,
49. Mír Ibráhím, the brother-in-law of Siyyid Ahmad,
50. Safar-‘Alí, the son of Karbilá’í ‘Alí, who, together with Karbilá’í Muhammad, had so strenuously endeavoured to awaken the people of Sang-Sar from their sleep of heedlessness. Both of them, owing to their infirmities, were unable to proceed to the fort of Tabarsí.
51. Muhammad-‘Alí, the son of Karbilá’í Abú-Muhammad,
52. Abu’l-Qásim, the brother of Muhammad-‘Alí,
53. Karbilá’í Ibráhím,
54. ‘Alí-Ahmad, 420
55. Mullá ‘Alí-Akbar,
56. Mullá Husayn-‘Alí,
57. Abbás-‘Alí,
58. Husayn-‘Alí,
59. Mullá ‘Alí-Asghar,
60. Karbilá’í Ismá’íl,
61. ‘Alí Khán,
62. Muhammad-Ibráhím,
63. Abdu’l-’Azim.
From the village of Sháh-Mirzad, two fell in defending the fort:
64. Mullá Abú-Rahím and
65. Karbilá’í Kázim.
As to the adherents of the Faith in Mázindarán, twenty-seven martyrs have thus far been recorded:
66. Mullá Ridáy-i-Sháh,
67. ‘Azím,
68. Karbilá’í Muhammad-Ja’far,
69. Siyyid Husayn,
70. Muhammad-Báqir,
71. Siyyid Razzaq,
72. Ustád Ibráhím,
73. Mullá Sa’íd-i-Zirih-Kinárí,
74. Ridáy-i-‘Arab,
75. Rasul-i-Bahnimírí,
76. Muhammad-Husayn, the brother of Rasul-i-Bahnimírí,
77. Táhir,
78. Sháfí,
79. Qásim,
80. Mullá Muhammad-Ján,
81. Masíh, the brother of Mullá Muhammad-Ján,
82. Ita-Bábá,
83. Yúsúf,
84. Fadlu’lláh,
85. Bábá,
86. Safi-Qulí,
87. Nizám,
88. Rúhu’lláh,
89. ‘Alí-Qulí, 421
90. Sultán,
91. Ja’far,
92. Khalíl.
Of the believers of Savád-Kúh, the five following names have thus far been ascertained:
93. Karbilá’í Qambar-Kalish,
94. Mullá Nad-‘Alíy-i-Mutavallí,
95. ‘Abdu’l-Haqq,
96. Itabaki-Chúpán,
97. Son of Itabaki-Chúpán.
From the town of Ardistán, the following have suffered martyrdom:
98. Mírzá ‘Alí-Muhammad, son of Mírzá Muhammad-Sa’íd,
99. Mírzá ‘Abdu’-Vasí, son of Hájí ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb,
100. Muhammad-Husayn, son of Hájí Muhammad-Sádiq,
101. Muhammad-Mihdí, son of Hájí Muhammad-Ibráhím,
102. Mírzá Ahmad, son of Muhsin,
103. Mírzá Muhammad, son of Mír Muhammad-Taqí.
From the city of Isfahán, thirty have thus far been recorded:
104. Mullá Ja’far, the sifter of wheat, whose name has been mentioned by the Báb in the Persian Bayán.
105. Ustád Áqá, surnamed Buzurg-Banná,
106. Ustád Hasan, son of Ustád Áqá,
107. Ustád Muhammad, son of Ustád Áqá,
108. Muhammad-Husayn, son of Ustád Áqá, whose younger brother Ustád Ja’far was sold several times by his enemies until he reached his native city, where he now resides.
109. Ustád Qurban-‘Alíy-i-Banná,
110. ‘Alí-Akbar, son of Ustád Qurban-‘Alíy-i-Banná,
111. ‘Abdu’lláh, son of Ustád Qurban-‘Ali-i-Banna,
112. Muhammad-i-Báqir-Naqsh, the maternal uncle of Siyyid Yahyá, son of Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alíy-i-Nahrí. He was fourteen years old and was martyred the very night that Mullá Husayn met his death.
113. Mullá Muhammad-Taqí,
114. Mullá Muhammad-Ridá, both brothers of the late ‘Abdu’s-Sálih, the gardener of the Ridván at ‘Akká.
115. Mullá Ahmad-i-Saffar, 422
116. Mullá Husayn-i-Miskar,
117. Ahmad-i-Payvandí,
118. Hasan-i-Sha’r-Baf-i-Yazdí,
119. Muhammad-Taqí,
120. Muhammad-‘Attaacute;r, brother of Hasan-i-Sha’r-Baf,
121. Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Khaliq, who cut his throat in Badasht and whom Táhirih named Dhabíh.
122. Husayn,
123. Abu’l-Qásim, brother of Husayn,
124. Mírzá Muhammad-Ridá,
125. Mullá Haydar, brother of Mírzá Muhammad-Ridá,
126. Mírzá Mihdí,
127. Muhammad-Ibráhím,
128. Muhammad-Husayn, surnamed Dastmál-Girih-Zan,
129. Muhammad-Hasan-i-Chit-Saz, a well-known cloth manufacturer who attained the presence of the Báb.
130. Muhammad-Husayn-i-‘Attaacute;r,
131. Ustád Hájí Muhammad-i-Banna,
132. Mahmúd-i-Muqari’í, a noted cloth dealer. He was newly married and had attained the presence of the Báb in the castle of Chihríq. The Báb urged him to proceed to the Jazíriy-i-Khadrá and to lend his assistance to Quddús. While in Tihrán, he received a letter from his brother announcing the birth of a son and entreating him to hasten to Isfahán to see him, and then to proceed to whichever place he felt inclined. “I am too much fired,” he replied, “with the love of this Cause to be able to devote any attention to my son. I am impatient to join Quddús and to enlist under his banner.”
133. Siyyid Muhammad-Ridáy-i-Pa-Qal’iyí, a distinguished siyyid and a highly esteemed divine, whose declared purpose to enlist under the banner of Mullá Husayn caused a great tumult among the ‘ulamás of Isfahán.
Among the believers of Shíráz, the following attained the station of martyrdom:
134. Mullá ‘Abdu’lláh, known also by the name of Mírzá Sálih,
135. Mullá Zaynu’l-Ábidín,
136. Mírzá Muhammad.
Of the adherents of the Faith in Yazd, only four have thus far been recorded: 423
137. The siyyid who walked on foot all the way from Khurásán to Barfurúsh, where he fell a victim to the bullet of the enemy.
138. Siyyid Ahmad, the father of Siyyid Husayn-i-’Aziz, the amanuensis of the Báb,
139. Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alí, son of Siyyid Ahmad, whose head was blown off by the ball from a cannon as he was standing at the entrance of the fort, and who, because of his tender age, was greatly loved and admired by Quddús.
140. Shaykh ‘Alí, son of Shaykh ‘Abdu’l-Kháliq-i-Yazdí, a resident of Mashhad, a youth whose enthusiasm and untiring energy were greatly praised by Mullá Husayn and Quddús.
Of the believers of Qazvín, the following were martyred:
141. Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alí, a noted divine, whose father, Hájí Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb, was one of the most distinguished mujtahids in Qazvín. He attained the presence of the Báb in Shíráz, and was enrolled as one of the Letters of the Living.
142. Muhammad-Hádí, a noted merchant, son of Hájí ‘Abdu’l-Karím, surnamed Baghban-Báshí,
143. Siyyid Ahmad,
144. Mírzá ‘Abdu’l-Jalíl, a noted divine,
145. Mírzá Mihdí.
146. From the village of Lahard, a man named Hájí Muhammad-‘Alí, who had greatly suffered as a result of the murder of Mullá Taqí in Qazvín.
Of the believers of Khúy, the following have suffered martyrdom:
147. Mullá Mihdí, a distinguished divine, who had been one of the esteemed disciples of Siyyid Kázim. He was noted for his learning, his eloquence, and his staunchness of faith.
148. Mullá Mahmúd-i-Khú’í, brother of Mullá Mihdí, one of the Letters of the Living and a distinguished divine.
149. Mullá Yúsúf-i-Ardibílí, one of the Letters of the Living, noted for his learning, his enthusiasm and eloquence. It was he who had aroused the apprehensions of Hájí Karím Khán on his arrival at Kirmán, and who struck terror to the hearts of his adversaries. “This man,” Hájí Karím Khán was heard to say to his congregation, “must needs be expelled from this town, for if he be allowed to remain, he will assuredly 424 cause the same tumult in Kirmán as he has already done in Shíráz. The injury he will inflict will be irreparable. The magic of his eloquence and the force of his personality, if they do not already excel those of Mullá Husayn, are certainly not inferior to them.” By this means he was able to force him to curtail his stay in Kirmán and to prevent him from addressing the people from the pulpit. The Báb gave him the following instructions: “You must visit the towns and cities of Persia and summon their inhabitants to the Cause of God. On the first day of the month of Muharram in the year 1265 A.H., 54 you must be in Mázindarán and must arise to lend every assistance in your power to Quddús.” Mullá Yúsúf, faithful to the instructions of his Master, refused to prolong his stay beyond a week in any of the towns and cities which he visited. On his arrival in Mázindarán, he was made captive by the forces of Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá, who immediately recognised him and gave orders that he be imprisoned. He was eventually released, as we have already observed, by the companions of Mullá Husayn on the day of the battle of Vas-Kas.
150. Mullá Jalíl-i-Urúmí, one of the Letters of the Living, noted for his learning, his eloquence, and tenacity of faith.
151. Mullá Ahmad, a resident of Marághih, one of the Letters of the Living, and a distinguished disciple of Siyyid Kázim.
152. Mullá Mihdíy-i-Kandí, a close companion of Bahá’u’lláh, and a tutor to the children of His household.
153. Mullá Báqir, brother of Mullá Mihdí, both of whom were men of considerable learning, to whose great attainments Bahá’u’lláh testifies in the “Kitáb-i-Íqán.”
154. Siyyid Kázim, a resident of Zanján, and one of its noted merchants. He attained the presence of the Báb in Shíráz, and accompanied Him to Isfahán. His brother, Siyyid Murtadá, was one of the Seven Martyrs of Tihrán.
155. Iskandar, also a resident of Zanján, who, together with Hasan and Qulí, bore the body of Mullá Husayn to the fort.
156. Ismá’íl,
157. Karbilá’í ‘Abdu’l-‘Alí, 425
158. ‘Abdu’l-Muhammad,
159. Hájí Abbás,
160. Siyyid Ahmad—all residents of Zanján.
161. Siyyid Husayn-i-Kuláh-Duz, a resident of Barfurúsh, whose head was impaled on a lance and was paraded through its streets.
162. Mullá Hasan-i-Rashtí,
163. Mullá Hasan-i-Bayajmandí,
164. Mullá Ni’matu’llah-i-Barfurúshí,
165. Mullá Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Qarakhilí,
166. Ustád Zaynu’l-Ábidín,
167. Ustád Qásim, son of Ustád Zaynu’l-Ábidín,
168. Ustád ‘Alí-Akbar, brother of Ustád Zaynu’l-Ábidín.
The last three were masons by profession, were natives of Kirmán, and resided in Qayin in the province of Khurásán.
169 and 170. Mullá Ridáy-i-Sháh and a young man from Bahnimir were slain two days after the abandonment of the fort by Quddús, in the Panj-Shanbih-Bazar of Barfurúsh. Hájí Mullá Muhammad-i-Hamzih, surnamed the Sharí’at-Madar, succeeded in burying their bodies in the neighbourhood of the Masjid-i-Kázim-Big, and in inducing their murderer to repent and ask forgiveness.
171. Mullá Muhammad-i-Mu’allim-i-Núrí, an intimate companion of Bahá’u’lláh who was closely associated with Him in Núr, in Tihrán, and in Mázindarán. He was famed for his intelligence and learning, and was subjected, Quddús only excepted, to the severest atrocities that have ever befallen a defender of the fort of Tabarsí. The prince had promised that he would release him on condition that he would execrate the name of Quddús, and had pledged his word that, should he be willing to recant, he would take him back with him to Tihrán and make him the tutor of his sons. “Never will I consent,” he replied, “to vilify the beloved of God at the bidding of a man such as you. Were you to confer upon me the whole of the kingdom of Persia, I would not for one moment turn my face from my beloved leader. My body is at your mercy, my soul you are powerless to subdue. Torture me as you will, that I may be enabled to demonstrate to you the truth of the verse, ‘Then, wish for death, if ye be men of 426 truth.’” 55 The prince, infuriated by his answer, gave orders that his body be cut to pieces and that no effort be spared to inflict upon him a most humiliating punishment.
172. Hájí Muhammad-i-Karrádí, whose home was situated in one of the palm groves adjoining the old city of Baghdád, a man of great courage who had fought and led a hundred men in the war against Ibráhím Páshá of Egypt. He had been a fervent disciple of Siyyid Kázim, and was the author of a long poem in which he expatiated upon the virtues and merits of the siyyid. He was seventy-five years old when he embraced the Faith of the Báb, whom he likewise eulogised in an eloquent and detailed poem. He distinguished himself by his heroic acts during the siege of the fort, and eventually became a victim of the bullets of the enemy.
173. Sa’íd-i-Jabbáví, a native of Baghdád, who displayed extraordinary courage during the siege. He was shot in the abdomen, and, though severely wounded, managed to walk until he reached the presence of Quddús. He joyously threw himself at his feet and expired.
The circumstances of the martyrdom of these last two companions were related by Siyyid Abú-Tálib-i-Sang-Sarí, one of those who survived that memorable siege, in a communication he addressed to Bahá’u’lláh. In it he relates, in addition, his own story, as well as that of his two brothers, Siyyid Ahmad and Mír Abu’l-Qásim, both of whom were martyred while defending the fort. “On the day on which Khusraw was slain,” he wrote, “I happened to be the guest of a certain Karbilá’í ‘Alí-Ján, the kad-khudá 56 of one of the villages in the neighbourhood of the fort. He had gone to assist in the protection of Khusraw, and had returned and was relating to me the circumstances attending his death. On that very day, a messenger informed me that two Arabs had arrived at that village and were anxious to join the occupants of the fort. They expressed their fear of the people of the village of Qádí-Kalá, and promised that they would amply reward whoever would be willing to conduct them to their destination. I recalled the counsels of my father, Mír Muhammad-‘Alí, who exhorted me to arise and 427 help in the promotion of the Cause of the Báb. I immediately decided to seize the opportunity that had presented itself to me, and, together with these two Arabs, and with the aid and assistance of the Kad-khudá, reached the fort, met Mullá Husayn, and determined to consecrate the remaining days of my life to the service of the Cause he had chosen to follow.”
The names of some of the officers who distinguished themselves among the opponents of the companions of Quddús are as follows:
1. Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá, brother of the late Muhammad Sháh, 428
2. Sulaymán Khán-i-Afshar,
3. Hájí Mustafá Khán-i-Sur-Tij,
4. ‘Abdu’lláh Khán, brother of Hájí Mustafá Khán,
5. Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání, who shot Mullá Husayn,
6. Núru’lláh Khán-i-Afghán,
7. Habíbu’lláh Khán-i-Afghán,
8. Dhu’l-Faqar Khán-i-Karavulí,
9. ‘Alí-Asghar Khán-i-Du-Dungi’í,
10. Khudá-Murád Khán-i-Kurd,
11. Khalíl Khán-i-Savad-Kúhí,
12. Ja’far-Qulí Khán-i-Surkh-Karri’í,
13. The Sartip of the Fawj-i-Kálbát, 429
14. Zakariyyay-i-Qádí-Kalá’í, a cousin of Khusraw, and his successor.
As to those believers who participated in that memorable siege and survived its tragic end, I have been thus far unable to ascertain in full either their names or their number. I have contented myself with a representative, though incomplete, list of the names of its martyrs, trusting that in the days to come the valiant promoters of the Faith will arise to fill this gap, and will, by their research and industry, be able to remedy the imperfections of this altogether inadequate description of what must ever remain as one of the most moving episodes of modern times. 430
1. “Thus perplexed and not knowing which way to turn, Sháhzádih, poor man, gave orders to gather together new soldiers and raise another army. The population was not eager to serve under a chief whose worth and intrepidity had not brilliantly stood the test. Nevertheless, by the help of money and through promises, the Mullás particularly, who did not lose sight of their interests, and who had the most at stake, displayed such zeal that in the end a fair number of tufang-chis were assembled. As for the mounted soldiers of the various tribes, from the moment their chiefs mount their horses, they do likewise without even asking why.

“Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání obeyed without hesitation the order to send new recruits. This time however, either through distrust of a Prince whose ineptitude might endanger the lives of his relatives and subjects, or because ambitious to distinguish himself, he no longer gave anyone the command of his forces. He led them himself by a daring move and, instead of rejoining the royal army, he went straight on to attack the Bábís in their refuge. Then he gave notice to the Prince that he had arrived at the fortress of Shaykh Tabarsí and that he was besieging it. Besides, he notified him that he had no need of assistance nor of support, that his forces were more than adequate and that, if his royal highness would see for himself how he, Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání was about to treat the rebels, he would be both honored and gratified.” (Comte de Gobineau’s “Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l’Asie Centrale,” pp. 170–171.)   [ Back To Reference]

2. “Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá could not pass for a bold warrior, as we have just seen, but he substituted for an excessive intrepidity another quality very useful to a general, he did not take literally the boastings of his lieutenants. Therefore, fearing that ill might befall this impudent nomad, he sent him reinforcements immediately. Thus departed in great haste Muhsin Khán-i-Ashrafí with his cavalry, a troop of Afgháns, Muhammad-Karím Khán-i-Ashrafí with some of the tufang-chis of the town, and Khalíl Khán of Savád-Kúh with the men of Qádí-Kalá.” (Ibid., p. 171.)   [ Back To Reference]
3. February 1, 1849 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
4. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
5. “Although seriously wounded, the Bábí chief continued, nevertheless, to give orders and to lead and stimulate his men until, seeing that little more could be gained, he gave the signal to retreat, remaining himself with the rear guard.” (Comte de Gobineau’s “Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l’Asie Centrale,” p. 174.)   [ Back To Reference]
6. “His [Mullá Husayn’s] mortal remains still repose in the little inner room of the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsí where, at the direction of Mullá Muhammad-‘Alí Barfurúshí, they were reverently laid by the hands of his sorrowing comrades in the beginning of the year A.D. 1849.” (“A Traveller’s Narrative,” Note F, p. 245.)   [ Back To Reference]
7. October 10, 1848 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
8. February 2, 1849 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
9. October 10, 1848 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
10. December 1, 1848 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
11. December 21, 1848 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
12. “Among them was Mullá Husayn, who was made the recipient of the effulgent glory of the Sun of Revelation. But for him, God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor ascended the throne of eternal glory.” (The “Kitáb-i-Íqán,” p. 188.) See note 5, p. 23. “Frail of form, but a gallant soldier and an impassioned lover of God he combined qualities and characteristics which even in the spiritual aristocracy of Persia are seldom found united in the same person.” (Dr. T. K. Cheyne’s “The Reconciliation of Races and Religions,” p. 83.) “At last,” writes Gobineau, “he passed away. The new religion, which found in him its first martyr, lost, in the same stroke, a man whose moral strength and ability would have been of great value to it, had he lived longer. The Muhammadans naturally feel a hatred for the memory of this leader, which is as deep as the love and veneration shown for him by the Bábís. They can both justify their opposing sentiments. What is certain is that Mullá Husayn-i-Bushrú’í was the first to give to Bábism, in the Persian empire, the status which a religious or political body acquires in the eyes of the people only after it has demonstrated its warlike strength.” (Comte de Gobineau’s “Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l’Asie Centrale,” p. 176.) “The late Hájí Mírzá Jání writes: ‘I myself met him [Mírzá Muhammad-Hasan, the younger brother of Mullá Husayn] when he was bringing his mother and sister from Karbilá to Qazvín and from Qazvín to Tihrán. His sister was the wife of Shaykh Abú-Turáb of Qazvín, who was a scholar and philosopher such at is rarely met with and believed with the utmost sincerity and purity of purpose, while such was his love and devotion to the Báb that if anyone did so much as mention the name of His Supreme Holiness (the souls of all beside him be His sacrifice) he could not restrain his tears. Often have I seen him, when engaged in the perusal of the writings of His Supreme Holiness, become almost beside himself with rapture, and nearly faint with joy. Of his wife he used to say: “I married her three years ago in Karbilá. She was then but an indifferent scholar even in Persian, but now she can expound texts from the Qur’án and explain the most difficult questions and most subtle points of the doctrine of the Divine Unity in such wise that I have never seen a man who was her equal in this, or in readiness of apprehension. These gifts she has obtained by the blessing of His Holiness the Supreme and through converse with her holiness the Pure (Qurratu’l-‘Ayn). I have seen in her a patience and resignation rare even in the most self-denying men, for during these three years, though I have not sent her a single dinar for her expenses and she has supported herself only with the greatest difficulty, she has never uttered a word; and now that she has come to Tihrán, she refrains altogether from speaking of the past, and though, in accordance with the wishes of Jináb-i-Babu’l-Báb, she now desires to proceed to Khurásán, and has literally nothing to put on save one well-worn dress which she wears, she never asks for clothes or travelling-money, but ever seeks reasonable excuses wherewith to set me at my ease and prevent me from feeling ashamed. Her purity, chastity, and virtue are boundless, and during all this while no unprivileged person hath so much as heard her voice.” But the virtues of the daughter were surpassed by those of the mother, who possessed rare attainments and accomplishments, and had composed many poems and eloquent elegies on the afflictions of her sons. Although Jináb-i-Babu’l-Báb had warned her of his approaching martyrdom and foretold to her all the impending calamities, she still continued to exhibit the same eager devotion and cheerful resignation, rejoicing that God had accepted the sacrifice of her sons, and even praying that they might attain to this great dignity and not be deprived of so great blessedness. It is indeed wonderful to meditate on this virtuous and saintly family, the sons so conspicuous for their single-minded devotion and self-sacrifice, the mother and daughter so patient and resigned. When I, Mírzá Jání, met Mírzá Muhammad-Hasan, he was but seventeen years of age, yet I observed in him a dignity, gravity, composure, and virtue which amazed me. After the death of Jináb-i-Babu’l-Báb, Hadrat-i-Quddús bestowed on him the sword and turban of that glorious martyr, and made him captain of the troops of the True King. As to his martyrdom, there is a difference of opinion as to whether he was slain at the breakfast-table in the camp, or suffered martyrdom with Jináb-i-Quddús in the square of Barfurúsh.’” (The “Taríkh-i-Jadíd,” pp. 93–5.) The sister of Mullá Husayn was surnamed “Varaqatu’l-Firdaws” and was intimately associated, while in Karbilá, with Táhirih. (“Memorials of the Faithful,” p. 270.)   [ Back To Reference]
13. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
14. “This time the terror knew no bounds; throughout the province the people, deeply aroused by the repeated defeats of Islám, were beginning to lean toward the new religion. The military leaders felt their authority tottering, the religious chiefs saw their power over souls waning; the situation was extremely critical and the least incident might place the province completely under the influence of the Reformer.” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” p. 315.)

“But when the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’ was informed of this, he (fearing lest the Bábís should enter Barfurúsh and mete out to him the punishment which he deserved) was overcome with trouble and consternation, and wrote several successive letters to Abbás-Qulí Khán, saying: ‘I congratulate you on your courage and discretion, but how much to be deplored it is that after you have been at such pains, lost so many of your kinsmen, and gained at length so signal a victory, you did not follow it up. You have made a great multitude food for the sword, and have returned, leaving only a few decrepit old men as survivors. Alas, that, after all your efforts and perseverance, the prince is now prepared to march against the castle and take captive these few poor wretches, so that after all he will get the credit of this signal victory, and will appropriate to himself all the money and property of the vanquished! You must make it your first and most important business to return to the castle ere he has set out, for the government of a province like Mázindarán is not a thing to be trifled with. Strive, then, to gain the entire credit of this victory, and let your exertions accomplish what your zeal has begun.’ He also wrote at great length to the clergy of Ámul urgently exhorting them to use their best endeavours to make the Sartip Abbás-Qulí Khán start at once without further delay. So they continued too remind him incessantly that it was his duty to march with all speed against the castle; and the Sartip, though he knew that what the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’ had written to him was utterly false and baseless, was eager, if it should be possible, to make some amends for what had passed, and so to clear himself in some measure of the disgrace which he had incurred in the eyes of the Laríjání women whose husbands he had sacrificed, and of the government. But inwardly he was consumed with anxiety, fearing that, as in the previous campaign, he might fail to accomplish anything. Most of his men, too, were wounded, while many had fled and concealed themselves in the surrounding villages distant four or five farsangs from the city. So, as a makeshift, he wrote to the clergy of Ámul, saying: ‘If indeed this be a religious war, you, who are such zealous champions of the Faith, and to whom men look for example, should take the lead, and make the first move, so that others may follow you.’ The clergy, not being prepared with a suitable answer, and seeing no way of excusing themselves, were obliged to send a message to the effect that the war was a religious war. A great company of tradesmen, common people, and roughs was assembled, and these, with the clergy and students, set out, ostensibly for the accomplishment of a religious duty, but really bent on plunder and rapine. Most of these went to Barfurúsh and there joined the advance of Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá, who, on reaching a village distant one farsang from the castle, sent a body of his men to reconnoitre and collect information about the movements of the Bábí garrison.” (The “Taríkh-i-Jadíd,” pp. 72–3.)   [ Back To Reference]

15. “The reverend divines, who with their pupils, had come to take part in the holy war, were scarce able to sleep at night for fear (though their quarters were in a place distant two farsangs from the castle), and continually in their conversation would they roundly abuse the prince and Abbás-Qulí Khán and curse the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’; ‘for,’ said they, ‘these have, without sufficient reason, taken us away from our studies, our discussions, and the earning of our livelihood, besides bringing us into dire peril; since to fight with men like these, who have renounced the world and carry their lives in their hands, is to incur great risk.’ So the holy verse, ‘Cast not yourselves into peril with your own hands,’ became their daily utterance. One said: ‘Certain circumstances exonerate me from the duty of taking part in this war at present.’ Another (adducing thirty different pretexts) said: I am lawfully excused and am compelled to turn back.’ A third said: ‘I have little children dependant on me; what can I do?’ A fourth said: ‘I have made no provision for my wife, so I must go, but, should it be necessary, I will return again.’ A fifth said: ‘My accounts with certain persons are not yet settled; should I fall a martyr my wealth will be wasted and an injustice will be done to my wife and children; and both waste and injustice are condemned as repugnant to our holy religion and displeasing to God.’ A sixth said: ‘I owe money to certain persons and have none to acquit me of my debt. Should I fall my debt will not allow me to cross the Bridge of Sirát.’ A seventh said: ‘I came away without the knowledge of my mother, and she had said to me: “Shouldst thou go I will make the milk wherewith I nourished thee unlawful to thee.” I fear, therefore, that I may be cast off aa undutiful by my mother.’ An eighth wept, saying: ‘I have made a vow to visit Karbilá this year; one circumambulation of the holy sepulchre of the Chief of Martyrs is equivalent in merit to a hundred thousand martyrdoms or a thousand pilgrimages to Mecca. I fear to fail in the fulfilment of my vow and to be disappointed of this great blessing.’ Others said: ‘We for our part, have neither seen in these people, nor heard of them aught that showeth them to be unbelievers, for they also say: “There is no god but God, Muhammad is the Apostle of God and ‘Alí is the Friend of God.” At most, they maintain that the advent of the Imám Mihdí has taken place. Let them be; for at all events they are no worse than the sunnís who reject the twelve Imáms and the fourteen immaculate saints recognise such an one as Umar as caliph, prefer Uthmán to ‘Alí-ibn-i-Ábí-Tálib, and accept Abú-Bakr as the successor of our holy Prophet. Why should our divines leave those alone and fight with these about matter whereof the rights and wrongs have not been properly determined?’ In short throughout the camp, murmurs arose from every tongue, and complaints from every mouth; each one sang a different tune and devised a different pretext; and all awaited but some plausible excuse to betake themselves to flight. So when Abbás-Qulí Khán perceived this to be the case, he, fearing lest the contagion of their terror might spread to his soldiers, was forced to accept the excuses of these reverend divines and their disciples and followers, who forthwith departed, rejoicing greatly, and uttering prayers for the Sartip’s success.” (The “Taríkh-i-Jadíd,” pp. 74–6.)   [ Back To Reference]
16. “Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá was somewhat surprised. He felt deeply disappointed, but what impressed him even more was that the Sardár could be considered as having been defeated as well as he, and this thought, flattering to his self-love, brought him no little pleasure. Not only did he no longer fear that one of his lieutenants might have won an enviable glory in taking the fortress of the Bábís; but it was not he himself alone who had failed; he had a companion in misfortune and a companion whom he would succeed in proving responsible for the two defeats. Overjoyed he called together his chiefs great and small and apprised them of the news, deploring of course the tragic fate of the Sardár and expressing the ardent hope that this valiant soldier might be more fortunate in the future.” (Comte de Gobineau’s “Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l’Asie Centrale,” p. 179.)   [ Back To Reference]
17. 1849 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
18. “The Prince assigned to each one his post during the siege; he entrusted Hájí Khán Núrí and Mírzá ‘Abdu’lláh Navayy with the responsibility of securing adequate supplies. As military leaders, he selected the Sardár Abbás-Qulí-i-Laríjání, towards whom, since his recent failure, he was showing more sympathy; then Nasru’lláh Khán-i-Bandibí, another chieftain, and Mustafá Khán from Ashraf to whom he gave the command of the brave tufang-chis of that city and also the command of the suritis. Other lesser lords led the men of Dudankih and Bálá-Rastaq as well as several Turkish and Kurdish nomads who were not included in the bands of the great chiefs. These nomads were entrusted with the special duty of watching every move of the enemy. Past experience had convinced them that they should be more vigilant in the future. Turks and Kurds were given therefore the responsibility of following, night and day, the operations of the enemy and to be ever on the alert in order to prevent possible surprises.” (Ibid., p. 181.)   [ Back To Reference]
19. “Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá, however, wished to combine recent strategy with old military technique and ordered to be brought from Tihrán two cannon and two mortars with the necessary ammunition. He also enlisted the assistance of a man from Hirát who had discovered an explosive substance which could project flames to a distance of seven hundred meters and set fire to anything combustible within that radius. A trial test was made and it proved satisfactory; the burning material was shot out into the fort, a conflagration started immediately and all the dwellings or shelters whether of wood, of reeds or of straw, which the Bábís had erected, either within the enclosure or upon the walls, were reduced to ashes.

“While this destruction went on, the bombs and bullets shot from the mortars seriously damaged a building hastily erected by men who were neither architects nor engineers and had never anticipated an artillery attack. In a very short time, the outer defences of the fortress were dismantled; nothing was left of them but fallen girders, smoked and burning timbers, scattered stones.” (Ibid., pp. 181–182.)   [ Back To Reference]

20. “After taking these precautions, they dug holes and trenches for the use of the tufang-chis who were ordered to shoot down any Bábís who might appear. They built large towers as high as the various levels of the fortress or even higher and, through a continuous plunging fire, they rendered the circulation of the Bábís within their fort extremely dangerous. It was a decided advantage for the besiegers, but, in a few days, the Bábí chiefs, taking advantage of the long nights, raised their fortifications so that their height exceeded that of the attacking towers of the enemy.” (Ibid., p. 181.)   [ Back To Reference]
21. The ninth day after Naw-Rúz.   [ Back To Reference]
22. “Once indeed, some few of them did go out to try to obtain a little tea and sugar for Jináb-i-Quddús. The most notable of these was Mullá Sa’íd of Zarkanád. Now he was a man so accomplished in science that when certain learned men of the kindred of Mullá Muhammad-Taqí of Núr addressed to Jináb-i-Quddús in writing certain questions touching the science of divination and astrology, the latter said to Mullá Sa’íd: ‘Do you speedily write for them a brief and compendious reply that their messenger be not kept waiting and a more detailed answer shall be written subsequently.’ So Mullá Sa’íd though hurried by the presence of the messenger and distracted by the turmoil of the siege rapidly penned a most eloquent address wherein while replying to the questions asked he introduced nearly a hundred well-authenticated traditions bearing on the truth of the new Manifestation of the promised Proof besides several which foreshadowed the halting of those who had believed in the Lord about Tabarsí and their martyrdom The learned men of Núr were amazed beyond all measure at his erudition and said: ‘Candour compels us to admit that such a presentation of these matters is a great miracle, and that such erudition and eloquence are far beyond the Mullá Sa’íd whom we knew. Assuredly this talent hath been bestowed on him from on high and he in turn hath made it manifest to us.’ Now Mullá Sa’íd and his companions, while they were without the castle fell into the hands of the royal troops and were by them carried before the prince. The prince strove by every means to extract from them some information about the state of the Bábí garrison their numbers and the amount of their munitions; but do what he would, he could gain nothing. So when he perceived Mullá Sa’íd to be a man of talent and understanding he said to him: ‘Repent, and I will release you and not suffer you to be slain.’ To this Mullá Sa’íd replied ‘Never did anyone repent of obedience to God’s command; why then should I? Rather do you repent who are acting contrary to His good pleasure, and more evilly than anyone hath heretofore done.’ And he spoke much more after the same fashion. So at length they sent him to Sarí in chains and fetters and there slew him under circumstances of the utmost cruelty along with his companions, who appear to have been five in number.” (The “Taríkh-i-Jadíd,” pp. 79–80.)   [ Back To Reference]
23. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
24. “Thus the latter constructed four towers on the four sides of the castle, and raised them so high that they were able to command the interior of the fortress with their guns, and to make the garrison targets for their bullets. Then the faithful, seeing this, began to dig subterranean passages and to retreat thither. But the ground of Mázindarán lies near the water and is saturated with moisture, added to which rain fell continually, increasing the damage, so that these poor sufferers dwelt amidst mud and water till their garments rotted away with damp…. Whenever one of their comrades quaffed the draught of martyrdom before their eyes, instead of grieving they rejoiced. Thus, for instance, on one occasion bomb-shell fell on the roof of a hut, which caught fire. Shaykh Sálih of Shíráz went to extinguish the fire. A bullet struck his head and shattered his skull. Even as they were raising his corpse a second bullet carried away the hand of Áqá Mírzá Muhammad ‘Alí, the son of Siyyid Ahmad who was the father of Áqá Siyyid Husayn, ‘the beloved.’ So too, was Áqá Siyyid Husayn ‘the beloved,’ a child ten years of age slain before his father’s eyes and he fell rolling in mud and gore, with limbs quivering like those of a half-killed bird.” (The “Taríkh-i-Jadíd,” pp. 81–3.)   [ Back To Reference]
25. “This state of affairs had lasted four months. The Sháh began to grow impatient. The success of the Bábís aroused his anger which according to the Persian historian he expressed thus: ‘We thought that our army would go without hesitation through fire and water, that, fearless, it would fight a lion or a whale, but we have sent it to fight a handful of weak and defenseless men and it has achieved nothing! Do the notables of Mázindarán think that we approve of this delay? Is it their policy to allow this conflagration to spread in order to magnify their importance in case they later put an end to it? Very well, let them know that I shall act as though Alláh had never created Mázindarán and I shall exterminate its inhabitants to the last man!” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” p. 322.)   [ Back To Reference]
26. “The siege had been going on for four months and had made no visible progress. The old fortifications had been destroyed but, with indomitable energy, the Bábís had built new ones and, night and day, they restored and enlarged them. It was impossible to foresee the outcome of this situation, the more so because, as I have already said, Mázindarán was not the only region in Persia where the devotees of the new Faith were giving evidence of their zeal and their daring. The King and the prime minister, in their anxiety, burst forth into abuse against their lieutenants. Not only did they charge them with incompetence, in the most bitter terms, but they threatened to extend to them the same treatment planned for the Bábís, if a final settlement were not reached without delay. Thereupon, the command was taken from Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá and given to the Afshar Sulaymán Khán, a man of acknowledged firmness and of great influence, not only in his own tribe, one of the noblest in Persia, but throughout the military circles who knew him and held him in high esteem. He was given the most rigorous orders.” (Comte de Gobineau’s “Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l’Asie Centrale,” pp. 183–184.)

…”Those who remained firm had already consumed not only all their food supply, but such grass as they could find in the enclosure and the bark of all the trees. There remained only the leather of their belts and the scabbards of their swords. They had to resort to the expedient recommended by the Spanish ambassador to the soldiers of the league besieged in Paris; they ground the bones of the dead and made flour with the dust thereof. At last, desperate, they were reduced to perpetrate a sort of profanation. The horse of Mullá Husayn had died of the wounds suffered during that fatal night which witnessed the death of its master. The Bábís had buried it out of regard for their holy leader and a little of the deep veneration which all felt for him hovered over the grave of the poor animal. They held council and, deploring the necessity for such a discussion, they debated the question whether extreme distress could justify them to disinter the sacred charger and eat the remains. With deep sorrow, they agreed that the deed was justifiable. They cooked the remains of the horse with the flour made from the bones of the dead, they ate this strange mixture and took up their guns once more!” (Ibid., pp 186–187.)   [ Back To Reference]

27. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá refers, in the “Memorials of the Faithful” (pp. 16–17) to the hardships and sufferings endured by the heroic defenders of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsí He pays a glowing tribute to the constancy, the zeal and courage of the besieged, mentioning in particular Mullá Sádiq-i-Muqaddas. “For eighteen days,” He says, “they remained without food. They lived on the leather of their shoes. This too was soon consumed, and they had nothing left but water. They drank a mouthful every morning and lay famished and exhausted in their fort. When attacked, however, they would instantly spring to their feet, and manifest in the face of the enemy a magnificent courage and astonishing resistance…. Under such circumstances to maintain an unwavering faith and patience is extremely difficult, and to endure such dire afflictions a rare phenomenon.”   [ Back To Reference]
28. April 24-May 23, 1849 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
29. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
30. Reference to God, the word Rahmán meaning “merciful.”   [ Back To Reference]
31. May 9, 1849 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
32. “This stark and desperate bravery, this unquenchable enthusiasm gave grave concern to the leaders of the imperial army. Despairing to break through the fortification after repeated defeats, they thought of resorting to shrewdness. The Prince was naturally shrewd and Sulaymán Khán-i-Afshar, recently sent by the Sháh, was urging such a method, fearful that longer delays might endanger his prestige and his life.” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” p. 325.)   [ Back To Reference]
33. Qur’án, 7:88.   [ Back To Reference]
34. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
35. “All the fortifications constructed by the Bábís were razed to the ground and even the ground was leveled to remove any evidences of the heroic defense of those who had died for their Faith. They imagined that this would silence history.” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” p. 327.)   [ Back To Reference]
36. “They formed them in a line and made sport of cutting open their stomachs. This amused them the more because, from the perforated intestines, issued grass still undigested, striking evidence of the sufferings they had endured and also of the faith that had sustained them. Some, very few, succeeded in escaping into the forest.” (Ibid.)   [ Back To Reference]
37. Hájí ‘Abdu’l-Majíd-i-Nishabúrí, who was eventually martyred in Khurásán.   [ Back To Reference]
38. “It was then, says Mírzá Jání, that Islám gave a shameful exhibition to the world. The victors, if they can be so called, wished to enjoy the intoxication of their triumph. They bound in chains Quddús, Mírzá Muhammad-Hasan Khán, brother of the Bábu’l-Báb, Akhund Mullá Muhammad-Sádiq-i-Khurásání, Mírzá Muhammad Sádiq-i-Khurásání, Hájí Mírzá Hasan Khurásání, Shaykh Ni’matu’lláh-i-Amulí, Hájí Násiri’d-Qazvíní, Mullá Yúsúf-i-Ardibílí, Áqá Siyyid ‘Abdu’l-‘Aim-i-Khú’í and several others. These they placed at the center of the parade which started out at the sound of the trumpets, and, every time they went through an inhabited section, they struck them.” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” pp. 327–328.)

“The cruelty went further still. If a few escaped death, having been sold into slavery, others were tortured until they died. Those who found kindly masters were Akhund Mullá Muhammad-Sádiq-i-Khurásání, Mullá Muhammad-i-Mahvalatiy-i-Dugh-Abádí, Áqá Siyyid ‘Azím-i-Khú’í, Hájí Násiri’d-Qazvíní, Hájí ‘Abdu’l-Majíd-i-Nishabúrí and Mírzá Husayn-i-Matavalliy-i-Qumí. Four Bábís suffered martyrdom at Barfurúsh, two were sent to Ámul; one of these was Mullá Ni’matu’lláh-i-Amulí, the other Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir-i-Khurásániy-i-Qa’iní, cousin of our Bábí author.

“Qá’iní lived previously at Mashhad, on the avenue called Khiyaban-Bala, and his house, which had been named ‘Bábíyyih,’ was the rendezvous of the secretaries as well as the home for the co-religionists journeying through. It is there that Quddús and the Bábu’l-Báb sojourned on their way to Khurásán. Besides his religious knowledge, Qá’iní was very skillful with his hands and it was he who designed the fortifications of Shaykh-Tabarsí.” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” p. 329.)   [ Back To Reference]

39. “As to the other prisoners they were made to lie down on the ground and the executioners cut open their stomachs. It was noticed that several of these unfortunates had raw grass in their intestines. This massacre completed, they found that there was still more to be done and they assassinated the fugitives who had already been pardoned. There were women and children and even fifty were not spared and their throats were cut. It was indeed a full day with much killing and no risk!” (Comte de Gobineau’s “Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l’Asie Centrale,” p. 189.)

“On his arrival at Ámul, Mullá Ni’matu’lláh was tortured with ruthless ferocity. Apparently, this scene threw Qá’iní into a fit of rage. In any case, when the executioner approached, Qá’iní, breaking his bonds, jumped upon him, snatched his sword and struck him with such violence that his head rolled about fifteen feet away. The crowd rushed upon him but, terrible in his strength, he mowed down all those who came within his reach and they had finally to shoot him with a rifle in order to subdue him. After his death, they found in his pocket a piece of roasted horse flesh proof of the misery that he had endured for his faith !” (Ibid., pp. 329–330.)   [ Back To Reference]

40. “The whole world marvelled at the manner of their sacrifice…. The mind is bewildered at their deeds and the soul marvelleth at their fortitude and bodily endurance…. These holy lights have for eighteen years, heroically endured the showers of afflictions which, from every side have rained upon them With what love, what devotion, what exultation and holy rapture they sacrificed their lives in the path of the All-Glorious! To the truth of this all witness. And yet how can they belittle this Revelation? Hath any age witnessed such momentous happenings? If these companions be not the true strivers after God, who else could be called by this name? Have these companions been seekers after power or glory? Have they ever yearned for riches? Have they cherished any desire except the good pleasure of God? If these companions with all their marvellous testimonies and wondrous works be false who then is worthy to claim for himself the truth? By God! their very deeds are a sufficient testimony, and an irrefutable proof unto all the peoples of the earth, were men to ponder in their hearts the mysteries of Divine Revelation. ‘And they who act unjustly shall soon know what a lot awaiteth them!’” (The “Kitáb-i-Íqán,” pp. 189–91.)   [ Back To Reference]
41. 1847–8 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
42. May 11, 1849 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
43. “The Bábís call attention to the fact that shortly afterwards a strange disease afflicted Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’. In spite of the furs which he wore, in spite of the fire which burned constantly in his room, he shivered with cold yet, at the same time, his fever was so high, that nothing could quench his intolerable thirst. He died, and his house, which was very beautiful, was abandoned and finally crumbled into ruins. Little by little, the practice grew of dumping refuse on the site where it had once so proudly stood. This so impressed the Mázindaránis that when they quarrel among themselves, the final insult frequently is, ‘May thy house meet the same fate as the house of Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’!’” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” p. 330.)   [ Back To Reference]
44. “At all events it appears that after the martyrdom of Jináb-i-Quddús a pious divine Hájí Muhammad-‘Alíy-i-Hamzih by name, whose skill in exegesis and spiritual gifts was recognised by all, secretly sent several persons to bury the mutilated remains in the ruined college already mentioned. And he, far from approving the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’’s conduct, used to curse and revile him, and never himself pronounced sentence of death against any Bábí, but, on the contrary used to obtain decent burial for those slain by the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’. And when men questioned him concerning the garrison of the castle, he would reply: ‘I do not condemn them or speak evil of them.’ For this reason half of Barfurúsh remained neutral, for at first he used to forbid men to traduce or molest the Bábís, though later when the trouble waxed great, he deemed it prudent to be silent and shut himself up in his house. Now his austerity of life, piety, learning, and virtue were as well known to the people of Mázindarán as were the irreligion immorality and worldliness of the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’.” (The “Taríkh-i-Jadíd,” p. 92.)   [ Back To Reference]
45. “He who knew Quddús and who made the pilgrimage with him is the one upon whom ‘eight unities’ have passed and God honored him among His angels in the heavens, because of the way in which he had withdrawn himself from all and because he was without blame in the sight of God.” (“Le Bayán Persan,” vol. 2, p. 164.) “Yet more wonderful than the events above described is the account of them given by Abbás-Qulí Khán, with many expressions of admiration to Prince Ahmad Mírzá. The late Hájí Mírzá Jání writes: ‘About two years after the disaster of Shaykh Tabarsí, I heard one, who, though not a believer, was honest, truthful, and worthy of credit, relate as follows: “We were sitting together when some allusion was made to the war waged by some of those present against Hadrat-i-Quddús and Jináb-i-Babu’l-Báb. Prince Ahmad Mírzá and Abbás-Qulí Khán were amongst the company. The prince questioned Abbás-Qulí Khán about the matter, and he replied thus: ‘The truth of the matter is that anyone who had not seen Karbilá would, if he had seen Tabarsí, not only have comprehended what there took place, but would have ceased to consider it and had he seen Mullá Husayn of Bushrúyih he would have been convinced that the Chief of Martyrs had returned to earth; and had he witnessed my deeds he would assuredly have said: “This is Shimr come back with sword and Lance.” I swear by the sacred plume of His Majesty the Centre of the Universe that one day Mullá Husayn, having on his head a green turban, and over his shoulder a shroud, came forth from the castle, stood forth in the open field, and, leaning on a lance which he held in his hand said: “O people, why, without enquiry and under the influence of passion and prejudiced misrepresentation, do ye act so cruelly towards us, and strive without cause to shed innocent blood? Be ashamed before the Creator of the universe, and at last give us passage, that we may depart out of this land.” Seeing that the soldiers were moved, I opened fire and ordered the troops to shout so as to drown his voice. Again I saw him lean on his lance and heard him cry: “Is there any who will help me?” three times so that all heard his cry. At that moment all the soldiers were silent and some began to weep, and many of the horsemen were visibly affected. Fearing that the army might be seduced from their allegiance, I again ordered them to fire and shout. Then I saw Mullá Husayn unsheathe his sword raise his face towards heaven, and heard him exclaim: “O God I have completed the proof to this host, but it availeth not.’ Then he began to attack us on the right and on the left. I swear by God that on that day he wielded the sword in such wise as transcends the power of man. Only the horsemen of Mázindarán held their ground and refused to flee. And when Mullá Husayn was well warmed to the fray, he overtook a fugitive soldier. The soldier sheltered himself behind a tree, and further strove to shield himself with his musket. Mullá Husayn dealt him such blow with his sword that he clave him and the tree and the musket into six pieces. And, during that war not once was his sword-stroke at fault, but every blow that he struck fell true. And by the nature of their wounds I could recognise all whom Mullá Husayn had cut down with his sword, and since I had heard and knew that none could rightly wield the sword save the Chief of Believers, and that it was well-nigh impossible for sword to cut so true, therefore I forbade all who were aware of this thing to mention it or make it known, lest the troops should be discouraged and should wax faint in the fight. But in truth I know not what had been shown to these people, or what they had seen, that they came forth to battle with such alacrity and joy, and engaged so eagerly and gladly in the strife, without displaying in their countenance any trace of fear or apprehension. One would imagine that in their eyes the keen sword and blood-spilling dagger were but means to the attainment of everlasting life, so eagerly did their necks and bosoms welcome them as they circled like salamanders round the fiery hail of bullets. And the astonishing thing was that all these men were scholars and men of learning, sedentary recluses of the college and the cloister, delicately nurtured and of weakly frame, inured indeed to austerities, but strangers to the roar of cannon, the rattle of musketry, and the field of battle. During the last three months of the siege, moreover, they were absolutely without bread and water, and were reduced to the extreme of weakness through lack of even such pittance of food as is sufficient to sustain life. Notwithstanding this, it seemed as if in time of battle a new spirit were breathed into their frames, insomuch that the imagination of man cannot conceive the vehemence of their courage and valour. They used to expose their bodies to the bullets and cannon-balls not only fearlessly and courageously, but eagerly and joyously, seeming to regard the battle-field as a banquet, and to be bent on casting away their lives.’”’” (The “Taríkh-i-Jadíd,” pp. 106–9.)   [ Back To Reference]
46. 1844 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
47. November-December 1888 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
48. Literally “The Last Name of God.”   [ Back To Reference]
49. May 16 1849 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
50. Qur’án, 3:93.   [ Back To Reference]
51. Literally “The Last Point.”   [ Back To Reference]
52. Refer to note 2, p. 413.   [ Back To Reference]
53. Refer to note 1, p. 383.   [ Back To Reference]
54. November 27, 1848 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
55. Qur’án, 9:94.   [ Back To Reference]
56. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]