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God Passes By

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979 second printing
  • Pages:
  • 412
Go to printed page GO
Pages 221-233

Chapter XIII: Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh

Well nigh half a century had passed since the inception of the Faith. Cradled in adversity, deprived in its infancy of its Herald and Leader, it had been raised from the dust, in which a hostile despot had thrown it, by its second and greatest Luminary Who, despite successive banishments, had, in less than half a century, succeeded in rehabilitating its fortunes, in proclaiming its Message, in enacting its laws and ordinances, in formulating its principles and in ordaining its institutions, and it had just begun to enjoy the sunshine of a prosperity never previously experienced, when suddenly it was robbed of its Author by the Hand of Destiny, its followers were plunged into sorrow and consternation, its repudiators found their declining hopes revive, and its adversaries, political as well as ecclesiastical, began to take heart again.
Already nine months before His ascension Bahá’u’lláh, as attested by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, had voiced His desire to depart from this world. From that time onward it became increasingly evident, from the tone of His remarks to those who attained His presence, that the close of His earthly life was approaching, though He refrained from mentioning it openly to any one. On the night preceding the eleventh of Shavval 1309 A.H. (May 8, 1892) He contracted a slight fever which, though it mounted the following day, soon after subsided. He continued to grant interviews to certain of the friends and pilgrims, but it soon became evident that He was not well. His fever returned in a more acute form than before, His general condition grew steadily worse, complications ensued which at last culminated in His ascension, at the hour of dawn, on the 2nd of Dhi’l-Qádih 1309 A.H. (May 29, 1892), eight hours after sunset, in the 75th year of His age. His spirit, at long last released from the toils of a life crowded with tribulations, had winged its flight to His “other dominions,” dominions “whereon the eyes of the people of names have never fallen,” and to which the “Luminous Maid,” “clad in white,” had bidden Him hasten, as described by Himself in the Lawḥ-i-Ru’yá (Tablet of the Vision), revealed nineteen years previously, on the anniversary of the birth of His Forerunner. 222
Six days before He passed away He summoned to His presence, as He lay in bed leaning against one of His sons, the entire company of believers, including several pilgrims, who had assembled in the Mansion, for what proved to be their last audience with Him. “I am well pleased with you all,” He gently and affectionately addressed the weeping crowd that gathered about Him. “Ye have rendered many services, and been very assiduous in your labors. Ye have come here every morning and every evening. May God assist you to remain united. May He aid you to exalt the Cause of the Lord of being.” To the women, including members of His own family, gathered at His bedside, He addressed similar words of encouragement, definitely assuring them that in a document entrusted by Him to the Most Great Branch He had commended them all to His care.
The news of His ascension was instantly communicated to Sulṭán ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd in a telegram which began with the words “the Sun of Bahá has set” and in which the monarch was advised of the intention of interring the sacred remains within the precincts of the Mansion, an arrangement to which he readily assented. Bahá’u’lláh was accordingly laid to rest in the northernmost room of the house which served as a dwelling-place for His son-in-law, the most northerly of the three houses lying to the west of, and adjacent to, the Mansion. His interment took place shortly after sunset, on the very day of His ascension.
The inconsolable Nabíl, who had had the privilege of a private audience with Bahá’u’lláh during the days of His illness; whom ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had chosen to select those passages which constitute the text of the Tablet of Visitation now recited in the Most Holy Tomb; and who, in his uncontrollable grief, drowned himself in the sea shortly after the passing of his Beloved, thus describes the agony of those days: “Methinks, the spiritual commotion set up in the world of dust had caused all the worlds of God to tremble…. My inner and outer tongue are powerless to portray the condition we were in…. In the midst of the prevailing confusion a multitude of the inhabitants of ‘Akká and of the neighboring villages, that had thronged the fields surrounding the Mansion, could be seen weeping, beating upon their heads, and crying aloud their grief.”
For a full week a vast number of mourners, rich and poor alike, tarried to grieve with the bereaved family, partaking day and night of the food that was lavishly dispensed by its members. Notables, among whom were numbered Shí’ahs, Sunnís, Christians, Jews and Druzes, as well as poets, ‘ulamás and government officials, all joined 223 in lamenting the loss, and in magnifying the virtues and greatness of Bahá’u’lláh, many of them paying to Him their written tributes, in verse and in prose, in both Arabic and Turkish. From cities as far afield as Damascus, Aleppo, Beirut and Cairo similar tributes were received. These glowing testimonials were, without exception, submitted to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Who now represented the Cause of the departed Leader, and Whose praises were often mingled in these eulogies with the homage paid to His Father.
And yet these effusive manifestations of sorrow and expressions of praise and of admiration, which the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh had spontaneously evoked among the unbelievers in the Holy Land and the adjoining countries, were but a drop when compared with the ocean of grief and the innumerable evidences of unbounded devotion which, at the hour of the setting of the Sun of Truth, poured forth from the hearts of the countless thousands who had espoused His Cause, and were determined to carry aloft its banner in Persia, India, Russia, ‘Iráq, Turkey, Palestine, Egypt and Syria.
With the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh draws to a close a period which, in many ways, is unparalleled in the world’s religious history. The first century of the Bahá’í Era had by now run half its course. An epoch, unsurpassed in its sublimity, its fecundity and duration by any previous Dispensation, and characterized, except for a short interval of three years, by half a century of continuous and progressive Revelation, had terminated. The Message proclaimed by the Báb had yielded its golden fruit. The most momentous, though not the most spectacular phase of the Heroic Age had ended. The Sun of Truth, the world’s greatest Luminary, had risen in the Síyáh-Chál of Ṭihrán, had broken through the clouds which enveloped it in Baghdád, had suffered a momentary eclipse whilst mounting to its zenith in Adrianople and had set finally in ‘Akká, never to reappear ere the lapse of a full millenium. God’s newborn Faith, the cynosure of all past Dispensations, had been fully and unreservedly proclaimed. The prophecies announcing its advent had been remarkably fulfilled. Its fundamental laws and cardinal principles, the warp and woof of the fabric of its future World Order, had been clearly enunciated. Its organic relation to, and its attitude towards, the religious systems which preceded it had been unmistakably defined. The primary institutions, within which an embryonic World Order was destined to mature, had been unassailably established. The Covenant designed to safeguard the unity and integrity of its world-embracing system had been irrevocably bequeathed to posterity. The promise of the 224 unification of the whole human race, of the inauguration of the Most Great Peace, of the unfoldment of a world civilization, had been incontestably given. The dire warnings, foreshadowing catastrophes destined to befall kings, ecclesiastics, governments and peoples, as a prelude to so glorious a consummation, had been repeatedly uttered. The significant summons to the Chief Magistrates of the New World, forerunner of the Mission with which the North American continent was to be later invested, had been issued. The initial contact with a nation, a descendant of whose royal house was to espouse its Cause ere the expiry of the first Bahá’í century, had been established. The original impulse which, in the course of successive decades, has conferred, and will continue to confer, in the years to come, inestimable benefits of both spiritual and institutional significance upon God’s holy mountain, overlooking the Most Great Prison, had been imparted. And finally, the first banners of a spiritual conquest which, ere the termination of that century, was to embrace no less than sixty countries in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres had been triumphantly planted.
In the vastness and diversity of its Holy Writ; in the number of its martyrs; in the valor of its champions; in the example set by its followers; in the condign punishment suffered by its adversaries; in the pervasiveness of its influence; in the incomparable heroism of its Herald; in the dazzling greatness of its Author; in the mysterious operation of its irresistible spirit; the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, now standing at the threshold of the sixth decade of its existence, had amply demonstrated its capacity to forge ahead, indivisible and incorruptible, along the course traced for it by its Founder, and to display, before the gaze of successive generations, the signs and tokens of that celestial potency with which He Himself had so richly endowed it.
To the fate that has overtaken those kings, ministers and ecclesiastics, in the East as well as in the West, who have, at various stages of Bahá’u’lláh’s ministry, either deliberately persecuted His Cause, or have neglected to heed the warnings He had uttered, or have failed in their manifest duty to respond to His summons or to accord Him and His message the treatment they deserved, particular attention, I feel, should at this juncture be directed. Bahá’u’lláh Himself, referring to those who had actively arisen to destroy or harm His Faith, had declared that “God hath not blinked, nor will He ever blink His eyes at the tyranny of the oppressor. More particularly in this Revelation hath He visited each and every tyrant with His vengeance.” Vast and awful is, indeed, the spectacle which meets our 225 eyes, as we survey the field over which the retributory winds of God have, since the inception of the ministry of Bahá’u’lláh, furiously swept, dethroning monarchs, extinguishing dynasties, uprooting ecclesiastical hierarchies, precipitating wars and revolutions, driving from office princes and ministers, dispossessing the usurper, casting down the tyrant, and chastising the wicked and the rebellious.
Sulṭán Abdu’l-’Aziz, who with Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh was the author of the calamities heaped upon Bahá’u’lláh, and was himself responsible for three decrees of banishment against the Prophet; who had been stigmatized, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, as occupying the “throne of tyranny,” and whose fall had been prophesied in the Lawḥ-i-Fu’ád, was deposed in consequence of a palace revolution, was condemned by a fatvá (sentence) of the Muftí in his own capital, was four days later assassinated (1876), and was succeeded by a nephew who was declared to be an imbecile. The war of 1877–78 emancipated eleven million people from the Turkish yoke; Adrianople was occupied by the Russian forces; the empire itself was dissolved as a result of the war of 1914–18; the Sultanate was abolished; a republic was proclaimed; and a rulership that had endured above six centuries was ended.
The vain and despotic Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh, denounced by Bahá’u’lláh as the “Prince of Oppressors”; of whom He had written that he would soon be made “an object-lesson for the world”; whose reign was stained by the execution of the Báb and the imprisonment of Bahá’u’lláh; who had persistently instigated his subsequent banishments to Constantinople, Adrianople and ‘Akká; who, in collusion with a vicious sacerdotal order, had vowed to strangle the Faith in its cradle, was dramatically assassinated, in the shrine of Sháh Abdu’l-’Azim, on the very eve of his jubilee, which, as ushering in a new era, was to have been celebrated with the most elaborate magnificence, and was to go down in history as the greatest day in the annals of the Persian nation. The fortunes of his house thereafter steadily declined, and finally through the scandalous misconduct of the dissipated and irresponsible Aḥmad Sháh, led to the eclipse and disappearance of the Qájár dynasty.
Napoleon III, the foremost monarch of his day in the West, excessively ambitious, inordinately proud, tricky and superficial, who is reported to have contemptuously flung down the Tablet sent to him by Bahá’u’lláh, who was tested by Him and found wanting, and whose downfall was explicitly predicted in a subsequent Tablet, was ignominiously defeated in the Battle of Sedan (1870), marking the greatest military capitulation recorded in modern history; lost his 226 kingdom and spent the remaining years of his life in exile. His hopes were utterly blasted, his only son, the Prince Imperial, was killed in the Zulu War, his much vaunted empire collapsed, a civil war ensued more ferocious than the Franco-German war itself, and William I, the Prussian king, was hailed emperor of a unified Germany in the Palace of Versailles.
William I, the pride-intoxicated newly-acclaimed conqueror of Napoleon III, admonished in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and bidden to ponder the fate that had overtaken “one whose power transcended” his own, warned in that same Book, that the “lamentations of Berlin” would be raised and that the banks of the Rhine would be “covered with gore,” sustained two attempts on his life, and was succeeded by a son who died of a mortal disease, three months after his accession to the throne, bequeathing the throne to the arrogant, the headstrong and short-sighted William II. The pride of the new monarch precipitated his downfall. Revolution, swiftly and suddenly, broke out in his capital, communism reared its head in a number of cities; the princes of the German states abdicated, and he himself, fleeing ignominiously to Holland, was compelled to relinquish his right to the throne. The constitution of Weimar sealed the fate of the empire, whose birth had been so loudly proclaimed by his grandfather, and the terms of an oppressively severe treaty provoked “the lamentations” which, half a century before, had been ominously prophesied.
The arbitrary and unyielding Francis Joseph, emperor of Austria and king of Hungary, who had been reproved in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, for having neglected his manifest duty to inquire about Bahá’u’lláh during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, was so engulfed by misfortunes and tragedies that his reign came to be regarded as one unsurpassed by any other reign in the calamities it inflicted upon the nation. His brother, Maximilian, was put to death in Mexico; the Crown Prince Rudolph perished in ignominious circumstances; the Empress was assassinated; Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife were murdered in Serajevo; the “ramshackle empire” itself disintegrated, was carved up, and a shrunken republic was set up on the ruins of a vanished Holy Roman Empire—a republic which, after a brief and precarious existence, was blotted out from the political map of Europe.
Nicolaevitch Alexander II, the all-powerful Czar of Russia, who, in a Tablet addressed to him by name had been thrice warned by Bahá’u’lláh, had been bidden to “summon the nations unto God,” and had been cautioned not to allow his sovereignty to prevent him 227 from recognizing “the Supreme Sovereign,” suffered several attempts on his life, and at last died at the hand of an assassin. A harsh policy of repression, initiated by himself and followed by his successor, Alexander III, paved the way for a revolution which, in the reign of Nicholas II, swept away on a bloody tide the empire of the Czars, brought in its wake war, disease and famine, and established a militant proletariat which massacred the nobility, persecuted the clergy, drove away the intellectuals, disendowed the state religion, executed the Czar with his consort and his family, and extinguished the dynasty of the Romanoffs.
Pope Pius IX, the undisputed head of the most powerful Church in Christendom, who had been commanded, in an Epistle addressed to him by Bahá’u’lláh, to leave his “palaces unto such as desire them,” to “sell all the embellished ornaments” in his possession, to “expend them in the path of God,” and hasten towards “the Kingdom,” was compelled to surrender, in distressing circumstances, to the besieging forces of King Victor Emmanuel, and to submit himself to be depossessed of the Papal States and of Rome itself. The loss of “the Eternal City,” over which the Papal flag had flown for one thousand years, and the humiliation of the religious orders under his jurisdiction, added mental anguish to his physical infirmities and embittered the last years of his life. The formal recognition of the Kingdom of Italy subsequently exacted from one of his successors in the Vatican, confirmed the virtual extinction of the Pope’s temporal sovereignty.
But the rapid dissolution of the Ottoman, the Napoleonic, the German, the Austrian and the Russian empires, the demise of the Qájár dynasty and the virtual extinction of the temporal sovereignty of the Roman Pontiff do not exhaust the story of the catastrophes that befell the monarchies of the world through the neglect of Bahá’u’lláh’s warnings conveyed in the opening passages of His Súriy-i-Mulúk. The conversion of the Portuguese and Spanish monarchies, as well as the Chinese empire, into republics; the strange fate that has, more recently, been pursuing the sovereigns of Holland, of Norway, of Greece, of Yugoslavia and of Albania now living in exile; the virtual abdication of the authority exercised by the kings of Denmark, of Belgium, of Bulgaria, of Rumania and of Italy; the apprehension with which their fellow sovereigns must be viewing the convulsions that have seized so many thrones; the shame and acts of violence which, in some instances, have darkened the annals of the reigns of certain monarchs in both the East and the West, and still more recently the sudden downfall of the Founder of the newly 228 established dynasty in Persia—these are yet further instances of the infliction of the “Divine Chastisement” foreshadowed by Bahá’u’lláh in that immortal Súrih, and show forth the divine reality of the arraignment pronounced by Him against the rulers of the earth in His Most Holy Book.
No less arresting has been the extinction of the all-pervasive influence exerted by the Muslim ecclesiastical leaders, both Sunní and Shí’ah, in the two countries in which the mightiest institutions of Islám had been reared, and which have been directly associated with the tribulations heaped upon the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh.
The Caliph, the self-styled vicar of the Prophet of Islám, known also as the “Commander of the Faithful,” the protector of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, whose spiritual jurisdiction extended over more than two hundred million Muḥammadans, was by the abolition of the Sultanate in Turkey, divested of his temporal authority, hitherto regarded as inseparable from his high office. The Caliph himself, after having occupied for a brief period, an anomalous and precarious position, fled to Europe; the Caliphate, the most august and powerful institution of Islám, was, without consultation with any community in the Sunní world, summarily abolished; the unity of the most powerful branch of the Islamic Faith was thereby shattered; a formal, a complete and permanent separation of the Turkish state from the Sunní faith was proclaimed; the Sharí’ah canonical Law was annulled; ecclesiastical institutions were disendowed; a civil code was promulgated; religious orders were suppressed; the Sunní hierarchy was dissolved; the Arabic tongue, the language of the Prophet of Islám, fell into disuse, and its script was superseded by the Latin alphabet; the Qur’án itself was translated into Turkish; Constantinople, the “Dome of Islám,” sank to the level of a provincial city, and its peerless jewel, the Mosque of St. Sophia, was converted into a museum—a series of degradations recalling the fate which, in the first century of the Christian Era, befell the Jewish people, the city of Jerusalem, the Temple of Solomon, the Holy of Holies, and an ecclesiastical hierarchy, whose members were the avowed persecutors of the religion of Jesus Christ.
A similar convulsion shook the foundations of the entire sacerdotal order in Persia, though its formal divorce from the Persian state is as yet unproclaimed. A “church-state,” that had been firmly rooted in the life of the nation and had extended its ramifications to every sphere of life in that country, was virtually disrupted. A sacerdotal order, the rock wall of Shí’ah Islám in that land, was 229 paralyzed and discredited; its mujtahids, the favorite ministers of the hidden Imám, were reduced to an insignificant number; all its beturbaned officers, except for a handful, were ruthlessly forced to exchange their traditional head-dress and robes for the European clothes they themselves anathematized; the pomp and pageantry that marked their ceremonials vanished; their fatvás (sentences) were nullified; their endowments were handed over to a civil administration; their mosques and seminaries were deserted; the right of sanctuary accorded to their shrines ceased to be recognized; their religious plays were banned; their takyihs were closed and even their pilgrimages to Najaf and Karbilá were discouraged and curtailed. The disuse of the veil; the recognition of the equality of sexes; the establishment of civil tribunals; the abolition of concubinage; the disparagement of the use of the Arabic tongue, the language of Islám and of the Qur’án, and the efforts exerted to divorce it from Persian—all these further proclaim the degradation, and foreshadow the final extinction, of that infamous crew, whose leaders had dared style themselves “servants of the Lord of Saintship” (Imám ‘Alí), who had so often received the homage of the pious kings of the Safaví dynasty, and whose anathemas, ever since the birth of the Faith of the Báb, had been chiefly responsible for the torrents of blood which had been shed, and whose acts have blackened the annals of both their religion and nation.
A crisis, not indeed as severe as that which shook the Islamic sacerdotal orders—the inveterate adversaries of the Faith—has, moreover, afflicted the ecclesiastical institutions of Christendom, whose influence, ever since Bahá’u’lláh’s summons was issued and His warning was sounded, has visibly deteriorated, whose prestige has been gravely damaged, whose authority has steadily declined, and whose power, rights and prerogatives have been increasingly circumscribed. The virtual extinction of the temporal sovereignty of the Roman Pontiff, to which reference has already been made; the wave of anti-clericalism that brought in its wake the separation of the Catholic Church from the French Republic; the organized assault launched by a triumphant Communist state upon the Greek Orthodox Church in Russia, and the consequent disestablishment, disendowment and persecution of the state religion; the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy which owed its allegiance to the Church of Rome and powerfully supported its institutions; the ordeal to which that same Church has been subjected in Spain and in Mexico; the wave of secularization which, at present, is engulfing the Catholic, the 230 Anglican and the Presbyterian Missions in non-Christian lands; the forces of an aggressive paganism which are assailing the ancient citadels of the Catholic, the Greek Orthodox and the Lutheran Churches in Western, in Central and Eastern Europe, in the Balkans and in the Baltic and Scandinavian states—these stand out as the most conspicuous manifestations of the decline in the fortunes of the ecclesiastical leaders of Christendom, leaders who, heedless of the voice of Bahá’u’lláh, have interposed themselves between the Christ returned in the glory of the Father and their respective congregations.
Nor can we fail to note the progressive deterioration in the authority, wielded by the ecclesiastical leaders of the Jewish and Zoroastrian Faiths, ever since the voice of Bahá’u’lláh was raised, announcing, in no uncertain terms, that the “Most Great Law is come,” that the Ancient Beauty “ruleth upon the throne of David,” and that “whatsoever hath been announced in the Books (Zoroastrian Holy Writ) hath been revealed and made clear.” The evidences of increasing revolt against clerical authority; the disrespect and indifference shown to time-honored observances, rituals and ceremonials; the repeated inroads made by the forces of an aggressive and often hostile nationalism into the spheres of clerical jurisdiction; and the general apathy with which, particularly in the case of the professed adherents of the Zoroastrian Faith, these encroachments are regarded—all provide, beyond the shadow of a doubt, further justification of the warnings and predictions uttered by Bahá’u’lláh in His historic addresses to the world’s ecclesiastical leaders.
Such in sum are the awful evidences of God’s retributive justice that have afflicted kings as well as ecclesiastics, in both the East and the West, as a direct consequence of either their active opposition to the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, or of their lamentable failure to respond to His call, to inquire into His Message, to avert the sufferings He endured, or to heed the marvelous signs and prodigies which, during a hundred years, have accompanied the birth and rise of His Revelation.
“From two ranks amongst men,” is His terse and prophetic utterance, “power hath been seized: kings and ecclesiastics.” “If ye pay no heed,” He thus warned the kings of the earth, “unto the counsels which … We have revealed in this Tablet, Divine chastisement will assail you from every direction… On that day ye shall … recognize your own impotence.” And again: “Though aware of most of Our afflictions, ye, nevertheless, have failed to stay the hand of the aggressor.” And, furthermore, this arraignment: “…We … will 231 be patient, as We have been patient in that which hath befallen Us at your hands, O concourse of kings!”
Condemning specifically the world’s ecclesiastical leaders, He has written: “The source and origin of tyranny have been the divines… God, verily, is clear of them, and We, too, are clear of them.” “When We observed carefully,” He openly affirms, “We discovered that Our enemies are, for the most part, the divines.” “O concourse of divines!” He thus addresses them, “Ye shall not henceforth behold yourselves possessed of any power, inasmuch as We have seized it from you…” “Had ye believed in God when He revealed Himself,” He explains, “the people would not have turned aside from Him, nor would the things ye witness today have befallen Us.” “They,” referring more specifically to Muslim ecclesiastics, He asserts, “rose up against Us with such cruelty as hath sapped the strength of Islám…” “The divines of Persia,” He affirms, “committed that which no people amongst the peoples of the world hath committed.” And again: “…The divines of Persia … have perpetrated what the Jews have not perpetrated during the Revelation of Him Who is the Spirit (Jesus).” And finally, these portentous prophecies: “Because of you the people were abased, and the banner of Islám was hauled down, and its mighty throne subverted.” “Erelong will all that ye possess perish, and your glory be turned into the most wretched abasement, and ye shall behold the punishment for what ye have wrought…” “Erelong,” the Báb Himself, even more openly prophesies, “We will, in very truth, torment such as waged war against Ḥusayn (Imám Ḥusayn) … with the most afflictive torment…” “Erelong will God wreak His vengeance upon them, at the time of Our return, and He hath, in very truth, prepared for them, in the world to come, a severe torment.”
Nor should, in a review of this nature, reference be omitted to those princes, ministers and ecclesiastics who have individually been responsible for the afflictive trials which Bahá’u’lláh and His followers have suffered. Fu’ád Páshá, the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, denounced by Him as the “instigator” of His banishment to the Most Great Prison, who had so assiduously striven with his colleague ‘Alí Páshá, to excite the fears and suspicions of a despot already predisposed against the Faith and its Leader, was, about a year after he had succeeded in executing his design, struck down, while on a trip to Paris, by the avenging rod of God, and died at Nice (1869). ‘Alí Páshá, the Sadr-i-‘Aẓam (Prime Minister), denounced in such forceful language in the Lawḥ-i-Ra’ís, whose downfall the Lawḥ-i-Fu’ád 232 had unmistakably predicted, was, a few years after Bahá’u’lláh’s banishment to ‘Akká, dismissed from office, was shorn of all power, and sank into complete oblivion. The tyrannical Prince Mas’úd Mírzá, the Zillu’s-Sulṭán, Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh’s eldest son and ruler over more than two-fifths of his kingdom, stigmatized by Bahá’u’lláh as “the Infernal Tree,” fell into disgrace, was deprived of all his governorships, except that of Iṣfahán, and lost all chances of future eminence or promotion. The rapacious Prince Jalálu’d-Dawlih, branded by the Supreme Pen as “the tyrant of Yazd,” was, about a year after the iniquities he had perpetrated, deprived of his post, recalled to Ṭihrán, and forced to return a part of the property he had stolen from his victims.
The scheming, the ambitious and profligate Mírzá Buzurg Khán, the Persian Consul General in Baghdád, was eventually dismissed from office, “overwhelmed with disaster, filled with remorse and plunged into confusion.” The notorious Mujtahid Siyyid Ṣádiq-i-Tabátabá’í, denounced by Bahá’u’lláh as “the Liar of Ṭihrán,” the author of the monstrous decree condemning every male member of the Bahá’í community in Persia, young or old, high or low, to be put to death, and all its women to be deported, was suddenly taken ill, fell a prey to a disease that ravaged his heart, his brain and his limbs, and precipitated eventually his death. The high-handed Subhí Páshá, who had peremptorily summoned Bahá’u’lláh to the government house in ‘Akká, lost the position he occupied, and was recalled under circumstances highly detrimental to his reputation. Nor were the other governors of the city, who had dealt unjustly with the exalted Prisoner in their charge and His fellow-exiles, spared a like fate. “Every páshá,” testifies Nabíl in his narrative, “whose conduct in ‘Akká was commendable enjoyed a long term of office, and was bountifully favored by God, whereas every hostile Mutisárrif (governor) was speedily deposed by the Hand of Divine power, even as ‘Abdu’r-Rahmán Páshá and Muḥammad-Yúsúf Páshá who, on the morrow of the very night they had resolved to lay hands on the loved ones of Bahá’u’lláh, were telegraphically advised of their dismissal. Such was their fate that they were never again given a position.”
Shaykh Muḥammad-Báqir, surnamed the “Wolf,” who, in the strongly condemnatory Lawḥ-i-Burhán addressed to him by Bahá’u’lláh, had been compared to “the last trace of sunlight upon the mountain-top,” witnessed the steady decline of his prestige, and died in a miserable state of acute remorse. His accomplice, Mír Muḥammad-Ḥusayn, surnamed the “She-Serpent,” whom Bahá’u’lláh described 233 as one “infinitely more wicked than the oppressor of Karbilá,” was, about that same time, expelled from Iṣfahán, wandered from village to village, contracted a disease that engendered so foul an odor that even his wife and daughter could not bear to approach him, and died in such ill-favor with the local authorities that no one dared to attend his funeral, his corpse being ignominiously interred by a few porters.
Mention should, moreover, be made of the devastating famine which, about a year after the illustrious Badí had been tortured to death, ravaged Persia and reduced the population to such extremities that even the rich went hungry, and hundreds of mothers ghoulishly devoured their own children.
Nor can this subject be dismissed without special reference being made to the Arch-Breaker of the Covenant of the Báb, Mírzá Yaḥyá, who lived long enough to witness, while eking out a miserable existence in Cyprus, termed by the Turks “the Island of Satan,” every hope he had so maliciously conceived reduced to naught. A pensioner first of the Turkish and later of the British Government, he was subjected to the further humiliation of having his application for British citizenship refused. Eleven of the eighteen “Witnesses” he had appointed forsook him and turned in repentance to Bahá’u’lláh. He himself became involved in a scandal which besmirched his reputation and that of his eldest son, deprived that son and his descendants of the successorship with which he had previously invested him, and appointed, in his stead, the perfidious Mírzá Hádíy-i-Dawlat-Ábádí, a notorious Azalí, who, on the occasion of the martyrdom of the aforementioned Mírzá Ashraf, was seized with such fear that during four consecutive days he proclaimed from the pulpit-top, and in a most vituperative language, his complete repudiation of the Bábí Faith, as well as of Mírzá Yaḥyá, his benefactor, who had reposed in him such implicit confidence. It was this same eldest son who, through the workings of a strange destiny, sought years after, together with his nephew and niece, the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the appointed Successor of Bahá’u’lláh and Center of His Covenant, expressed repentance, prayed for forgiveness, was graciously accepted by Him, and remained, till the hour of his death, a loyal follower of the Faith which his father had so foolishly, so shamelessly and so pitifully striven to extinguish.