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A Traveler’s Narrative

  • Author:
  • ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 94
Go to printed page GO
Pages 3-20


[Pages 1–20]

1 2 3
Touching the individual known as the Báb and the true nature of this sect diverse tales are on the tongues and in the mouths of men, and various accounts are contained in the pages of Persian history and the leaves of European chronicles. But because of the variety of their assertions and the diversity of their narratives not one is as worthy of confidence as it should be. Some have loosed their tongues in extreme censure and condemnation; some foreign chronicles have spoken in a commendatory strain; while a certain section have recorded what they themselves have heard without addressing themselves either to censure or approbation.
Now since these various accounts are recorded in other pages, and since the setting forth thereof would lead to prolixity, therefore what relates to the history of this matter (sought out with the utmost diligence during the time of my travels in all parts of Persia, whether far or near, from those without and those within, from friends and strangers), and that whereon the disputants are agreed, shall be briefly set forth in writing, so that a summary of the facts of the case may be at the disposal 4 of those who are athirst after the fountain of knowledge and who seek to become acquainted with all events.
The Báb was a young merchant of the Pure Lineage. He was born in the year one thousand two hundred and thirty-five [A.H.] on the first day of Muharram, 1 and when after a few years His father Siyyid Muhammad-Ridá died, He was brought up in Shíráz in the arms of His maternal uncle Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí the merchant. On attaining maturity He engaged in trade in Búshihr, first in partnership with His maternal uncle and afterwards independently. On account of what was observed in Him He was noted for godliness, devoutness, virtue, and piety, and was regarded in the sight of men as so characterized.
In the year one thousand two hundred and sixty [A.H.], when He was in His twenty-fifth year, certain signs became apparent in His conduct, behavior, manners, and demeanor whereby it became evident in Shíráz that He had some conflict in His mind and some other flight beneath His wing. He began to speak and to declare the rank of Báb-hood. 2 Now what He intended by the term Báb [Gate] was this, that He was the channel of grace from some great Person still behind the veil of glory, Who was the possessor of countless and boundless perfections, by Whose will He moved, and to the bond of Whose love He clung. And in the first book which He wrote in explanation of the Súrih of Joseph, 3 He addressed Himself in all passages to that Person unseen from Whom He received help and grace, sought for aid in the arrangement of His preliminaries, and craved the sacrifice of life in the way of His love.
Amongst others is this sentence: “O Remnant of God, I am wholly sacrificed to Thee; I am content with curses in Thy 5 way; I crave naught but to be slain in Thy love; and God the Supreme sufficeth as an Eternal Protection.”
He likewise composed a number of works in explanation and elucidation of the verses of the Qur’án, of sermons, and of prayers in Arabic; inciting and urging men to expect the appearance of that Person; and these books He named “Inspired Pages” and “Word of Conscience.” But on investigation it was discovered that He laid no claim to revelation from an angel.
Now since He was noted amongst the people for lack of instruction and education, this circumstance appeared in the sight of men supernatural. Some men inclined to Him, but the greater part manifested strong disapproval; whilst all the learned doctors and lawyers of repute who occupied chairs, altars, and pulpits were unanimously agreed on eradication and suppression, save some divines of the Shaykhí party who were anchorites and recluses, and who, agreeably to their tenets, were ever seeking for some great, incomparable, and trustworthy person, whom they accounted, according to their own terminology, as the “Fourth Support” and the central manifestation of the truths of the Perspicuous Religion.
Of this number Mullá Husayn of Bushrúyih, Mírzá Ahmad of Azghand, Mullá Sádiq Muqaddas [the Holy], Shaykh Abú-Turáb of Ishtihard, Mullá Yúsúf of Ardibíl, Mullá Jalíl of Urúmíyyih, Mullá Mihdí of Kand, Shaykh Sa’íd the Indian, Mullá ‘Alí of Bastám, and the like of these came out unto Him and spread themselves through all parts of Persia.
The Báb Himself set out to perform the circumambulation of the House of God. 4 On His return, when the news of His arrival at Búshihr reached Shíráz, there was much discussion, and a strange excitement and agitation became apparent in 6 that city. The great majority of the doctors set themselves to repudiate Him, decreeing slaughter and destruction, and they induced Husayn Khán Ajúdán-báshí, who was the governor of Fárs, to inflict a beating on the Báb’s missionaries, that is on Mullá Sádiq Muqaddas; then, having burnt his moustaches and beard together with those of Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alí of Barfurúsh and Mullá ‘Alí-Akbar of Ardistán, they put halters on all the three and led them round the streets and bazaars.
Now since the doctors of Persia have no administrative capacity, they thought that violence and interference would cause extinction and silence and lead to suppression and oblivion; whereas interference in matters of conscience causes stability and firmness and attracts the attention of men’s sight and souls; which fact has received experimental proof many times and often. So this punishment caused notoriety, and most men fell to making inquiry.
The governor of Fárs, acting according to that which the doctors deemed expedient, sent several horsemen, caused the Báb to be brought before him, censured and blamed Him in the presence of the doctors and scholars, and loosed his tongue in the demand for reparation. And when the Báb returned his censure and withstood him greatly, at a sign from the president they struck Him a violent blow, insulting and contemning Him, in such wise that His turban fell from His head and the mark of the blow was apparent on His face. At the conclusion of the meeting they decided to take counsel, and, on receiving bail and surety from His maternal uncle Hájí Siyyid ‘Alí, sent Him to His house forbidding Him to hold intercourse with relations or strangers.
One day they summoned Him to the mosque urging and constraining Him to recant, but He discoursed from the pulpit in such wise as to silence and subdue those present and to stablish and strengthen His followers. It was then supposed that He claimed to be the medium of grace from His Highness the Lord of the Age (upon Him be peace); but afterwards it 7 became known and evident that His meaning was the Gatehood [Bábíyyat] of another city and the mediumship of the graces of another Person Whose qualities and attributes were contained in His books and treatises.
At all events, as has been mentioned, by reason of the doctors’ lack of experience and skill in administrative science, and the continual succession of their decisions, comment was rife; and their interference with the Báb cast a clamor throughout Persia, causing increased ardor in friends and the coming forward of the hesitating. For by reason of these occurrences men’s interest increased, and in all parts of Persia some [of God’s] servants inclined toward Him, until the matter acquired such importance that the late king Muhammad Sháh delegated a certain person named Siyyid Yahyá of Daráb, who was one of the best known of doctors and Siyyids as well as an object of veneration and confidence, giving him a horse and money for the journey so that he might proceed to Shíráz and personally investigate this matter. 5
When the above-mentioned Siyyid arrived at Shíráz he interviewed the Báb three times. In the first and second conferences questioning and answering took place; in the third conference he requested a commentary on the Súrih called Kawthar 6 , and when the Báb, without thought or reflection, wrote an elaborate commentary on the Kawthar in his presence, the above-mentioned Siyyid was charmed and enraptured with Him, and straightway, without consideration for the future or anxiety about the results of this affection, hastened to Burújird to his father Siyyid Ja’far, known as Kashfí, and acquainted him with the matter. And, although he was wise and prudent and was wont to have regard to the requirements of the time, he wrote without fear or care a detailed 8 account of his observations to Mírzá Lutf-‘Alí the chamberlain in order that the latter might submit it to the notice of the late king, while he himself journeyed to all parts of Persia, and in every town and station summoned the people from the pulpit-tops in such wise that other learned doctors decided that he must be mad, accounting it a sure case of bewitchment.
Now when the news of the decisions of the doctors and the outcry and clamor of the lawyers reached Zanján, Mullá Muhammad-‘Alí the divine, who was a man of mark possessed of penetrating speech, sent one of those on whom he could rely to Shíráz to investigate this matter. This person, having acquainted himself with the details of these occurrences in such wise as was necessary and proper, returned with some [of the Báb’s] writings. When the divine heard how matters were and had made himself acquainted with the writings, notwithstanding that he was a man expert in knowledge and noted for profound research, he went mad and became crazed as was predestined: he gathered up his books in the lecture-room saying, “The season of spring and wine has arrived,” and uttered this sentence: “Search for knowledge after reaching the known is culpable.” Then from the summit of the pulpit he summoned and directed all his disciples [to embrace the doctrine], and wrote to the Báb his own declaration and confession.
The Báb in His reply signified to him the obligation of congregational prayer.
Although the doctors of Zanján arose with heart and soul to exhort and admonish the people they could effect nothing. Finally they were compelled to go to Tihrán and made their complaint before the late king Muhammad Sháh, requesting that Mullá Muhammad-‘Alí might be summoned to Tihrán. So the royal order went forth that he should appear.
Now when he came to Tihrán they brought him before a conclave of the doctors; but, so they relate, after many controversies 9 and disputations naught was effected with him in that assembly. The late king therefore bestowed on him a staff and fifty túmáns for his expenses, and gave him permission to return.
At all events, this news being disseminated through all parts and regions of Persia, and several proselytes arriving in Fárs, the doctors perceived that the matter had acquired importance, that the power to deal with it had escaped from their hands, and that imprisonment, beating, tormenting, and contumely were fruitless. So they signified to the governor of Fárs, Husayn Khán, “If thou desirest the extinction of this fire, or seekest a firm stopper for this rent and disruption, an immediate cure and decisive remedy is to kill the Báb. And the Báb has assembled a great host and meditates a rising.”
So Husayn Khán ordered ‘Abdu’l-Hamíd Khán the high constable to attack the house of the Báb’s maternal uncle at midnight on all sides, and to bring Him and all His followers handcuffed. But ‘Abdu’l-Hamíd Khán and his hosts found no one in the house save the Báb, His maternal uncle, and Siyyid Kázim of Zanján; and as it chanced that on that night the sickness of the plague and the extreme heat of the weather had compelled Husayn Khán to flee, he released the Báb on condition of His quitting the city.
On the morning after that night the Báb with Siyyid Kázim of Zanján set out from Shíráz for Isfahán. Before reaching Isfahán He wrote a letter to the Mu’tamídu’d-Dawlih, the governor of the province, requesting a lodging in some suitable place with the sanction of the government. The governor appointed the mansion of the Imám-Jum’ih. There He abode forty days; and one day, agreeably to the request of the Imám, He wrote without reflection a commentary on [the Súrih of] V’al-‘Asr before the company. 7 When this news reached the 10 Mu’tamíd he sought an interview with Him and questioned Him concerning the “Special Mission.” At that same interview an answer proving the “Special Mission” was written.
The Mu’tamíd then gave orders that all the doctors should assemble and dispute with Him in one conclave, and that the discussion should be faithfully recorded without alteration by the instrumentality of his private secretary, in order that it might be sent to Tihrán, and that whatever the royal edict and decree should ordain might be carried out.
The doctors, however, considering this arrangement as a weakening of the Law, did not agree, but held a conclave and wrote, “If there be doubt in the matter there is need of assembly and discussion, but as this person’s disagreement with the most luminous Law is clearer than the sun therefore the best possible thing is to put in practice the sentence of the Law.”
The Mu’tamíd then desired to hold the assembled conference in his own presence so that the actual truth might be disclosed and hearts be at peace, but these learned doctors and honorable scholars, unwilling to bring the Perspicuous Law into contempt, did not approve discussion and controversy with a young merchant, with the exception of that most erudite sage Áqá Muhammad-Mihdí, and that eminent Platonist Mírzá Hasan of Núr. So the conference terminated in questionings on certain points relating to the science of fundamental dogma, and the elucidation and analysis of the doctrines of Mullá Sadrá. So, as no conclusion was arrived at by the governor from this conference, the severe sentence and harsh decision of the learned doctors was not carried out; but, anxious to abate the great anxiety quickly and prevent a public tumult effectually, he gave currency to a report that a decree had been issued ordering the Báb to be sent to Tihrán in order that some decisive settlement might be arrived at, or that some courageous divine might be able to confute [Him].
He accordingly sent Him forth from Isfahán with a company 11 of his own mounted bodyguard; but when they reached Murchih-Khar he gave secret orders for His return to Isfahán, where he afforded Him a refuge and asylum in his own roofed private quarters; and not a soul save the confidential and trusty dependents of the Mu’tamíd knew aught of the Báb.
A period of four months passed in this fashion, and the Mu’tamíd passed away to the mercy of God. Gurgín Khán, the Mu’tamíd’s nephew, was aware of the Báb’s being in the private apartments, and represented the matter to the Prime Minister. Hájí Mírzá Aqásí, that celebrated minister, issued a decisive command and gave instructions that they should send the Báb secretly in disguise under the escort of Núsayrí horsemen to the capital.
When He reached Kinár-Gird a fresh order came from the Prime Minister appointing the village of Kulayn as an abode and dwelling-place. There He remained for a period of twenty days. After that, the Báb forwarded a letter to the Royal Presence craving audience to set forth the truth of His condition, expecting this to be a means for the attainment of great advantages. The Prime Minister did not admit this, and made representation to the Royal Presence: “The royal cavalcade is on the point of starting, and to engage in such matters as the present will conduce to the disruption of the kingdom. Neither is there any doubt that the most notable doctors of the capital also will behave after the fashion of the doctors of Isfahán, which thing will be the cause of a popular outbreak, or that, according to the religion of the immaculate Imám, they will regard the blood of this siyyid as of no account, yea, as more lawful than mother’s milk. The imperial train is prepared for travel, neither is there hindrance or impediment in view. There is no doubt that the presence of the Báb will be the cause of the gravest trouble and the greatest mischief. Therefore, on the spur of the moment, the wisest plan is this: to place this person in the Castle of Mákú during the period of absence of the royal train from the seat of the imperial throne, 12 and to defer the obtaining of an audience to the time of return.”
Agreeably to this view a letter was issued addressed to the Báb in his Majesty’s own writing, and, according to the traditional account of the tenor of this letter, the epitome thereof is this:
(After the titles). “Since the royal train is on the verge of departure from Tihrán, to meet in a befitting manner is impossible. Do you go to Mákú and there abide and rest for a while, engaged in praying for our victorious state; and we have arranged that under all circumstances they shall show you attention and respect. When we return from travel we will summon you specially.”
After this they sent Him off with several mounted guards (amongst them Muhammad Big, the courier) to Tabríz and Mákú.
Besides this the followers of the Báb recount certain messages conveyed [from Him] by the instrumentality of Muhammad Big (amongst which was a promise to heal the foot of the late king, but on condition of an interview, and the suppression of the tyranny of the majority), and the Prime Minister’s prevention of the conveyance of these letters to the Royal Presence. For he himself laid claim to be a spiritual guide and was prepared to perform the functions of religious directorship. But others deny these accounts.
At all events in the course of the journey He wrote a letter to the Prime Minister saying, “You summoned Me from Isfahán to meet the doctors and for the attainment of a decisive settlement. What has happened now that this excellent intention has been changed for Mákú and Tabríz?”
Although He remained forty days in the city of Tabríz the learned doctors did not condescend to approach Him and did not deem it right to meet Him. Then they sent Him off to the Castle of Mákú, and for nine months lodged Him in the inaccessible castle which is situated on the summit of that lofty 13 mountain. And ‘Alí Khán of Mákú, because of his excessive love for the family of the Prophet, paid Him such attention as was possible, and gave permission [to some persons] to converse with Him.
Now when the accomplished divines of Ádhirbayján perceived that in all the parts round about Tabríz it was as though the last day had come by reason of the excessive clamor, they requested the government to punish the [Báb’s] followers, and to remove the Báb to the Castle of Chihríq. So they sent Him to that castle and consigned Him to the keeping of Yahyá Khán the Kurd.
Glory be to God! Notwithstanding these decisions of great doctors and reverend lawyers, and severe punishments and reprimands—beatings, banishments, and imprisonments—on the part of governors, this sect was daily on the increase, and the discussion and disputation was such that in meetings and assemblies in all parts of Persia there was no conversation but on this topic. Great was the commotion which arose: the doctors of the Perspicuous Religion were lamenting, the common folk clamorous and agitated, and the Friends rejoicing and applauding.
But the Báb Himself attached no importance to this uproar and tumult, and, alike on the road and in the castles of Mákú and Chihríq, evening and morning, nay, day and night, in extremest rapture and amazement, He would restrict Himself to repeating and meditating on the qualities and attributes of that absent-yet-present, regarded-and-regarding Person of His. 8 Thus He makes a mention of Him whereof this is the purport:
“Though the ocean of woe rageth on every side, and the bolts of fate follow in quick succession, and the darkness of griefs and afflictions invade soul and body, yet is My heart 14 brightened by the remembrance of Thy countenance and My soul is as a rosegarden from the perfume of Thy nature.”
In short, after He had remained for three months in the Castle of Chihríq, the eminent doctors of Tabríz and scholars of Ádhirbayján wrote to Tihrán and demanded a severe punishment in regard to the Báb for the intimidation and frightening of the people. When the Prime Minister Hájí Mírzá Aqásí beheld the ferment and clamor of the learned doctors in all districts of Persia, he perforce became their accomplice and ordered Him to be brought from Chihríq to Tabríz. In the course of His transit by Urúmíyyih the governor of the district Qásim Mírzá treated Him with extraordinary deference, and a strange flocking together of high and low was apparent. These conducted themselves with the utmost respectfulness.
When the Báb reached Tabríz they brought Him after some days before the government tribunal. Of the learned doctors the Nizámu’l-‘Ulamá, Mullá Muhammad-i-Mamaqání, Mírzá Ahmad the Imám-Jum’ih, Mírzá ‘Alí-Asghar the Shaykhu’l-Islám, and several other divines were present. They asked concerning the claims of the Báb. He advanced the claim of Mihdí-hood; whereon a mighty tumult arose. Eminent doctors in overwhelming might compassed Him on all sides, and such was the onset of orthodoxy that it had been no great wonder if a mere youth had not withstood the mountain of Elburz. They demanded proof. Without hesitation He recited texts, saying, “This is the permanent and most mighty proof.” They criticized His grammar. He adduced arguments from the Qur’án, setting forth therefrom instances of similar infractions of the rules of grammar. So the assembly broke up and the Báb returned to His own dwelling.
The heaven-cradled Crown-Prince was at that time governor of Ádhirbayján. He pronounced no sentence with regard to the Báb, nor did he desire to interfere with Him. The doctors, however, considered it advisable at least to inflict a severe chastisement, and beating was decided on. But none of 15 the corps of farráshes would agree to become the instruments of the infliction of this punishment. So Mírzá ‘Alí-Asghar the Shaykhu’l-Islám, who was one of the noble Siyyids, brought Him to his own house and applied the rods with his own hand. After this they sent the Báb back to Chihríq and subjected Him to a strict confinement.
Now when the news of this beating, chastisement, imprisonment, and rigor reached all parts of Persia, learned divines and esteemed lawyers who were possessed of power and influence girt up the loins of endeavor for the eradication and suppression of this sect, exerting their utmost efforts therefore. And they wrote notice of their decision, to wit “that this person and his followers are in absolute error and are hurtful to Church and State.” And since the governors in Persia enjoyed the fullest authority, in some provinces they followed this decision and united in uprooting and dispersing the Bábís. But the late King Muhammad Sháh acted with deliberation in this matter, reflecting, “This Youth is of the Pure Lineage and of the family of him addressed with ‘were it not for thee.’ So long as no offensive actions which are incompatible with the public peace and well-being proceed from him, the government should not interfere with him.” And whenever the learned doctors appealed to him from the surrounding districts, he either gave no answer, or else commanded them to act with deliberation.
Notwithstanding this, between eminent doctors and illustrious scholars and those learned persons who were followers of the Báb opposition, discussion, and strife did so increase that in some provinces they desired [to resort to] mutual imprecation; and for the governors of the provinces, too, a means of acquiring gain was produced, so that great tumult and disturbance arose. And since the malady of the gout had violently attacked the king’s foot and occupied his world-ordering thought, the good judgment of the Chief Minister, the famous Hájí Mírzá Aqásí, became the pivot of the conduct 16 of affairs, and his incapacity and lack of resource became apparent as the sun. For every hour he formed a new opinion and gave a new order: at one moment he would seek to support the decision of the doctors, accounting the eradication and suppression of the Bábís as necessary: at another time he would charge the doctors with aggressiveness, regarding undue interference as contrary to justice: at another time he would become a mystic and say, “All these voices are from the King,” 9 or repeat with his tongue, “Moses is at war with Moses,” 10 or recite, “This is nought but Thy trial.” 11 In short this changeable minister, by reason of his mismanagement of important matters and failure to control and order the affairs of the community, so acted that disturbance and clamor arose from all quarters and directions: the most notable and influential of the doctors ordered the common folk to molest the followers of the Báb, and a general onslaught took place. More especially when the claim of Mihdí-hood reached the hearing of eminent divines and profound doctors they began to make lamentation and to cry and complain from their pulpits, saying, “One of the essentials of religion and of the authentic traditions transmitted from the holy Imáms, nay, the chief basis of the foundations of the church of His Highness Ja’far, is the Occultation of the immaculate twelfth Imám (upon both of them be peace). What has happened to Jábulqá? Where has Jábulsá gone? What was the Minor Occultation? What has become of the Major Occultation? What are the sayings of Husayn ibn Rúh, and what the tradition of Ibn Mihríyár? What shall we make of the flight of the Guardians and the Helpers? How shall we deal with the conquest of the East and the West? Where is the Ass of Antichrist? When will the appearance of the Súfyán be? Where are the signs which are in 17 the traditions of the Holy Family? Where is that whereon the Victorious Church is agreed? The matter is not outside one of two alternatives: either we must repudiate the traditions of the Holy Imáms, grow wearied of the Church of Ja’far, and account the clear indications of the Imám as disturbed dreams; or, in accordance with the primary and subsidiary doctrines of the Faith and the essential and explicit declarations of the most luminous Law, we must consider the repudiation, nay, the destruction of this person as our chief duty. If so be that we shut our eyes to these authentic traditions and obvious doctrines universally admitted, no remnant will endure of the fundamental basis of the Church of the immaculate Imám: we shall neither be Sunnites, nor shall we be of the prevalent sect to continue awaiting the promised Saint and believing in the begotten Mihdí. 12 Otherwise we must regard as admissible the opening of the Gate of Saintship, and consider that He Who is to arise of the family of Muhammad possesses two signs: the first condition, Holy Lineage; the second, [that He is divinely] fortified with brilliant verses. What can we do with these thousand-year-old beliefs of the delivered band of Shí’ites, or what shall we say concerning their profound doctors and preeminent divines? Were all these in error? Did they journey in the vale of transgression? What an evidently false assertion is this! By God, this is a thing to break the back! O people, extinguish this fire and forget these words! Alas! woe to our Faith, woe to our Law!”
Thus did they make complaint in mosques and chapels, in pulpits and congregations.
But the Bábí chiefs composed treatises against them, and set in order replies according to their own thought. Were these to be discussed in detail it would conduce to prolixity, and our object is the statement of history, not of arguments for believing or rejecting; but of some of the replies the gist is this: that 18 they held the Proof as supreme, and the evidence as outweighing traditions, considering the former as the root and the latter as the branch, and saying, “If the branch agree not with the root it serves not as an argument and is unworthy of reliance; for the reported consequence has no right to oppose itself to the established principle, and cannot argue against it.” Indeed in such cases they regarded interpretation as the truth of revelation and the essence of true exegesis: thus, for instance, they interpreted the sovereignty of the Qá’im as a mystical sovereignty, and His conquests as conquests of the cities of hearts, adducing in support of this the meekness and defeat of the Chief of Martyrs (may the life of all being be a sacrifice for him). For he was the true manifestation of the blessed verse “And verily our host shall overcome for them,” 13 yet, notwithstanding this, he quaffed the cup of martyrdom with perfect meekness, and, at the very moment of uttermost defeat, triumphed over his enemies and became the most mighty of the troops of the Supreme Host. Similarly they regarded the numerous writings which, in spite of His lack of education, the Báb had composed, as due to the promptings of the Holy Spirit; extracted from books contrary sayings handed down by men of mark; adduced traditions apparently agreeing with their objects; and clung to the announcements of certain notables of yore. They also considered the conversion of austere and recluse doctors and eminent votaries of the Perspicuous Religion [of Islám] as a valid proof, deemed the steadfastness and constancy of the Báb a most mighty sign, and related miracles and the like; which things, being altogether foreign to our purpose, we have passed by with brevity, and will now proceed with our original topic.
At the time of these events certain persons appeared amongst the Bábís who had a strange ascendancy and appearance in the eyes of this sect. Amongst these was Mírzá 19 Muhammad-‘Alí of Mázindarán, who was the disciple of the illustrious Siyyid (may God exalt his station) Hájí Siyyid Kázim of Rasht, and who was the associate and companion of the Báb in His pilgrimage journey. After a while certain manners and states issued from him such that all, acting with absolute confidence, considered obedience to him as an impregnable stronghold, so that even Mullá Husayn of Bushrúyih, who was the leader of all and the arbiter appealed to alike by the noble and the humble of this sect, used to behave in his presence with great humility and with the self-abasement of a lowly servant.
This personage set himself to exalt the word of the Báb with the utmost steadfastness, and the Báb did full justice to speech in praising and glorifying him, accounting his uprising as an assistance from the Unseen. In delivery and style he was “evident magic,” and in firmness and constancy superior to all. At length in the year [A.H.] 1265 at the sentence of the chief of lawyers the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’ the chief divine of Barfurúsh, he yielded his head and surrendered his life amidst extremest clamor and outcry.
And amongst them was she who was entitled Qurratu’l-‘Ayn the daughter of Hájí Sálih, the sage of Qazvín, the erudite doctor. She, according to what is related, was skilled in diverse arts, amazed the understandings and thoughts of the most eminent masters by her eloquent dissertations on the exegesis and tradition of the Perspicuous Book, and was a mighty sign in the doctrines of the glorious Shaykh of Ahsá. At the Supreme Shrines she borrowed light on matters divine from the lamp of Kázim, and freely sacrificed her life in the way of the Báb. She discussed and disputed with the doctors and sages, loosing her tongue to establish her doctrine. Such fame did she acquire that most people who were scholars or mystics sought to hear her speech and were eager to become acquainted with her powers of speculation and deduction. She had a brain full of tumultuous ideas, and thoughts vehement 20 and restless. In many places she triumphed over the contentious, expounding the most subtle questions. When she was imprisoned in the house of [Mahmúd] the Kalantar of Tihrán, and the festivities and rejoicings of a wedding were going on, the wives of the city magnates who were present as guests were so charmed with the beauty of her speech that, forgetting the festivities, they gathered round her, diverted by listening to her words from listening to the melodies, and rendered indifferent by witnessing her marvels to the contemplation of the pleasant and novel sights which are incidental to a wedding. In short in elocution she was the calamity of the age, and in ratiocination the trouble of the world. Of fear or timidity there was no trace in her heart, nor had the admonitions of the kindly-disposed any profit or fruit for her. Although she was of [such as are] damsels [meet] for the bridal bower, yet she wrested preeminence from stalwart men, and continued to strain the feet of steadfastness until she yielded up her life at the sentence of the mighty doctors in Tihrán. But were we to occupy ourselves with these details the matter would end in prolixity.
Well, Persia was in this critical state and the learned doctors perplexed and anxious, when the late Prince Muhammad Sháh died, and the throne of sovereignty was adorned with the person of the new monarch. Mírzá Taqí Khán Amír-Nizám, who was Prime Minister and Chief Regent, seized in the grasp of his despotic power the reins of the affairs of the commonwealth, and urged the steed of his ambition into the arena of willfulness and sole possession. This minister was a person devoid of experience and wanting in consideration for the consequences of actions; bloodthirsty and shameless; and swift and ready to shed blood. Severity in punishing he regarded as wise administration, and harshly entreating, distressing, intimidating, and frightening the people he considered as a fulcrum for the advancement of the monarchy. And as His Majesty the King was in the prime of youthful years the minister fell into strange fancies and sounded the drum of
1. 20 October 1819.   [ Back To Reference]
2. 23 May 1844.   [ Back To Reference]
3. Qur’án 12.   [ Back To Reference]
4. Undertake the pilgrimage to Mecca.   [ Back To Reference]
5. Muhammad Sháh died September 4, 1848; the English translation of A Traveler’s Narrative first appeared in 1891.   [ Back To Reference]
6. Qur’án 108.   [ Back To Reference]
7. Qur’án 103.   [ Back To Reference]
8. A reference to Bahá’u’lláh, “Him Whom God shall make manifest,” whose precursor the Báb considered Himself to be.   [ Back To Reference]
9. The Mathnaví.   [ Back To Reference]
10. The Mathnaví.   [ Back To Reference]
11. Qur’án 7:154.   [ Back To Reference]
12. The Shí’ites.   [ Back To Reference]
13. Qur’án 37:173.   [ Back To Reference]