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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 243-261


SIYYID HUSAYN-I-YAZDÍ has been heard to relate the following: “During the first ten days of the Báb’s incarceration in Tabríz, no one knew what would next befall Him. The wildest conjectures were current in the city. One day I ventured to ask Him whether He would continue to remain where He was or would be transferred to still another place. ‘Have you forgotten,’ was His immediate reply, ‘the question you asked me in Isfahán? For a period of no less than nine months, we shall remain confined in the Jabál-i-Basít, 1 from whence we shall be transferred to the Jabál-i-Shadíd. 2 Both these places are among the mountains of Khúy and are situated on either side of the town bearing that name.’ Five days after the Báb had uttered this prediction, orders were issued to transfer Him and me to the castle of Máh-Kú and to deliver us into the custody of ‘Alí Khán-i-Máh-Kú’í.”
The castle, a solid, four-towered stone edifice, occupies the summit of a mountain at the foot of which lies the town of Máh-Kú. The only road that leads from it passes into that town, ending at a gate which adjoins the seat of government and is invariably kept closed. This gate is distinct from that of the castle itself. Situated on the confines of both the Ottoman and Russian empires, this castle has been used, in view of its commanding position and strategic advantages, as a centre for reconnoitring purposes. The officer in charge of that station observed, in time of war, the movements of the enemy, surveyed the surrounding regions, and reported to his government such cases of emergency as came 244 under his observation. The castle is bounded on the west by the river Araxes, which marks the frontier between the territory of the Sháh and the Russian empire. To the south extends the territory of the Sultán of Turkey; the frontier town of Báyazíd being at a distance of only four farsangs 3 from the mountain of Máh-Kú. The frontier officer, in charge of the castle, was a man named ‘Alí Khán. The residents of the town are all Kurds and belong to the sunní sect of Islám. 4 The shí’ahs, who constitute the vast majority of the inhabitants of Persia, have always been their avowed and bitter enemies. These Kurds particularly abhor the siyyids of the shí’ah denomination, whom they regard as the spiritual leaders and chief agitators among their opponents. ‘Alí Khán’s mother being a Kurd, the son was held in great esteem and was implicitly obeyed by the people of Máh-Kú. They regarded him as a member of their own community and placed the utmost confidence in him.
Hájí Mírzá Aqásí had deliberately contrived to relegate the Báb to so remote, so inhospitable and dangerously situated a corner of the territory of the Sháh, with the sole purpose of stemming the tide of His rising influence and of severing every tie that bound Him to the body of His disciples throughout the country. Confident that few, if any, would venture to penetrate that wild and turbulent region, occupied by so rebellious a people, he fondly imagined that this forced seclusion of his Captive from the pursuits and interests of His followers would gradually tend to stifle the Movement at its very birth and would lead to its final extinction. 5 He was soon made to realise, however, that he had gravely mistaken the nature of the Revelation of the Báb and had underrated the force of its influence. The turbulent spirits of this unruly people were soon subdued by the gentle manners of the Báb, and their hearts were softened 245 by the ennobling influence of His love. Their pride was humbled by His unexampled modesty, and their unreasoning arrogance mellowed by the wisdom of His words. Such was the fervour which the Báb had kindled in those hearts that their first act, every morning, was to seek a place whence they could catch a glimpse of His face, where they could commune with Him and beseech His blessings upon their daily work. In cases of dispute, they would instinctively hasten to that spot and, with their gaze fixed upon His prison, would invoke His name and adjure one another to declare the truth. ‘Alí Khán several times attempted to induce them to desist from this practice but found himself powerless to restrain their enthusiasm. He discharged his functions with the utmost severity and refused to allow any of the avowed disciples of the Báb to reside, even for one night, in the town of Máh-Kú. 6
“For the first two weeks,” Siyyid Husayn further related, “no one was permitted to visit the Báb. My brother and I alone were admitted to His presence. Siyyid Hasan would, every day, accompanied by one of the guards, descend to the town and purchase our daily necessities. Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunúzí, who had arrived at Máh-Kú, spent the nights in a masjid outside the gate of the town. He acted as an intermediary between those of the followers of the Báb who occasionally visited Máh-Kú and Siyyid Hasan, my brother, who would in turn submit the petitions of the believers to their Master and would acquaint Shaykh Hasan with His reply. 246
“One day the Báb charged my brother to inform Shaykh Hasan that He would Himself request ‘Alí Khán to alter his attitude towards the believers who visited Máh-Kú and to abandon his severity. ‘Tell him,’ He added, ‘I will to-morrow instruct the warden to conduct him to this place.’ I was greatly surprised at such a message. How could the domineering and self-willed ‘Alí Khán, I thought to myself, be induced to relax the severity of his discipline? Early the next day, the gate of the castle being still closed, we were surprised by a sudden knock at the door, knowing full well that orders had been given that no one was to be admitted before the hour of sunrise. We recognised the voice of ‘Alí Khán, who seemed to be expostulating with the guards, one of whom presently came in and informed me that the warden of the castle insisted on being allowed admittance into the presence of the Báb. I conveyed his message and was commanded to usher him at once into His presence. As I was stepping out of the door of His antechamber, I found ‘Alí Khán standing at the threshold in an attitude of complete submission, his face betraying an expression of unusual humility and wonder. His self-assertiveness and pride seemed to have entirely vanished. Humbly and with extreme courtesy, he returned my salute and begged me to allow him to enter the presence of the Báb. I conducted him to the room which my Master occupied. His limbs trembled as he followed me. An inner agitation which he could not conceal 247 brooded over his face. The Báb arose from His seat and welcomed him. Bowing reverently, ‘Alí Khán approached and flung himself at His feet. ‘Deliver me,’ he pleaded, ‘from my perplexity. I adjure You, by the Prophet of God, Your illustrious Ancestor, to dissipate my doubts, for their weight has well-nigh crushed my heart. I was riding through the wilderness and was approaching the gate of the town, when, it being the hour of dawn, my eyes suddenly beheld You standing by the side of the river engaged in offering Your prayer. With outstretched arms and upraised eyes, You were invoking the name of God. I stood still and watched You. I was waiting for You to terminate Your devotions that I might approach and rebuke You for having ventured to leave the castle without my leave. In Your communion with God, You seemed so wrapt in worship that You were utterly forgetful of Yourself. I quietly approached You; in Your state of rapture, You remained wholly unaware of my presence. I was suddenly seized with great fear and recoiled at the thought of awakening You from Your ecstasy. I decided to leave You, to proceed to the guards and to reprove them for their negligent conduct. I soon found out, to my amazement, that both the outer and inner gates were closed. They were opened at my request, I was ushered into Your presence, and now find You, to my wonder, seated before me. I am utterly confounded. I know not whether my reason has deserted me.’ The Báb answered and said: ‘What you have witnessed is true and undeniable. You belittled this Revelation and have contemptuously disdained its Author. God, the All-Merciful, desiring not to afflict you with His punishment, has willed to reveal to your eyes the Truth. By His Divine interposition, He has instilled into your heart the love of His chosen One, and caused you to recognise the unconquerable power of His Faith.’”
This marvellous experience completely changed the heart of ‘Alí Khán. Those words had calmed his agitation and subdued the fierceness of his animosity. By every means in his power, he determined to atone for his past behaviour. ‘A poor man, a shaykh, he hastily informed the Báb, “is yearning to attain Your presence. He lives in a masjid outside the gate of Máh-Kú. I pray You that I myself be 248 allowed to bring him to this place that he may meet You. By this act I hope that my evil deeds may be forgiven, that I may be enabled to wash away the stains of my cruel behaviour toward Your friends.” His request was granted, whereupon he went straightway to Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunúzí and conducted him into the presence of his Master.
‘Alí Khán set out, within the limits imposed upon him, to provide whatever would tend to alleviate the rigour of the captivity of the Báb. At night the gate of the castle was still closed; in the daytime, however, those whom the Báb desired to see were allowed to enter His presence, were able to converse with Him and to receive His instructions.
As He lay confined within the walls of the castle, He devoted His time to the composition of the Persian Bayán, the most weighty, the most illuminating and comprehensive of all His works. 7 In it He laid down the laws and precepts of His Dispensation, plainly and emphatically announced the advent of a subsequent Revelation, and persistently urged His followers to seek and find “Him whom God would make manifest,” 8 warning them lest they allow the mysteries and allusions in the Bayán to interfere with their recognition of His Cause. 9 249
I have heard Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunúzí bear witness to the following: “The voice of the Báb, as He dictated the teachings and principles of His Faith, could be clearly heard by those who were dwelling at the foot of the mountain. The melody of His chanting, the rhythmic flow of the verses which streamed from His lips caught our ears and penetrated into our very souls. Mountain and valley re-echoed the majesty of His voice. Our hearts vibrated in their depths to the appeal of His utterance.” 10 250
The gradual relaxation of the stern discipline imposed upon the Báb encouraged an increasing number of His disciples from the different provinces of Persia to visit Him in the castle of Máh-Kú. An unceasing stream of eager and devout pilgrims was directed to its gates through the gentleness and leniency of ‘Alí Khán. 11 After a stay of three days, they would invariably be dismissed by the Báb, with instructions to return to their respective fields of service and to resume their labours for the consolidation of His Faith. ‘Alí 251 Khán himself never failed to pay his respects to the Báb each Friday, and to assure Him of his unswerving loyalty and devotion. He often presented Him with the rarest and choicest fruit available in the neighbourhood of Máh-Kú, and would continually offer Him such delicacies as he thought would prove agreeable to His taste and liking.
In this manner the Báb spent the summer and autumn within the walls of that castle. A winter followed of such 252 exceptional severity that even the copper implements were affected by the intensity of the cold. The beginning of that season coincided with the month of Muharram of the year 1264 A.H. 12 The water which the Báb used for His ablutions was of such icy coldness that its drops glistened as they froze upon His face. He would invariably, after the termination of each prayer, summon Siyyid Husayn to His presence and would request him to read aloud to Him a passage from the Muhriqu’l-Qulub, a work composed by the late Hájí Mullá Mihdí, the great-grandfather of Hájí Mírzá Kamálu’d-Dín-i-Naráqí, in which the author extols the virtues, laments the death, and narrates the circumstances of the martyrdom of the Imám Husayn. The recital of those sufferings would provoke intense emotion in the heart of the Báb. His tears would keep flowing as He listened to the tale of the unutterable indignities heaped upon him, and of the agonising pain which he was made to suffer at the hands of a perfidious enemy. As the circumstances of that tragic life were unfolded before Him, the Báb was continually reminded of that still greater tragedy which was destined to signalise the advent of the promised Husayn. To Him those past atrocities were but a symbol which foreshadowed the bitter afflictions which His own beloved Husayn was soon to suffer at the hands of His countrymen. He wept as He pictured in His mind those calamities which He who was to be made manifest was predestined to suffer, calamities such as the Imám Husayn, even in the midst of his agonies, was never made to endure. 13 253
In one of His writings revealed in the year ’60 A.H., the Báb declares the following: “The spirit of prayer which animates My soul is the direct consequence of a dream which I had in the year before the declaration of My Mission. In My vision I saw the head of the Imám Husayn, the Siyyidu’sh-Shuhada’, which was hanging upon a tree. Drops of blood dripped profusely from His lacerated throat. With feelings of unsurpassed delight, I approached that tree and, stretching forth My hands, gathered a few drops of that sacred blood, and drank them devoutly. When I awoke, I felt that the Spirit of God had permeated and taken possession of My soul. My heart was thrilled with the joy of His Divine presence, and the mysteries of His Revelation were unfolded before My eyes in all their glory.”
No sooner had Muhammad Sháh condemned the Báb to captivity amid the mountain fastnesses of Ádhirbayján than he became afflicted with a sudden reverse of fortune, such as he had never known before and which struck at the very foundations of his State. Appalling disaster surprised his forces that were engaged in maintaining internal order throughout the provinces. 14 The standard of rebellion was 254 hoisted in Khurásán, and so great was the consternation provoked by that rising that the projected campaign of the Sháh to Hirát was immediately abandoned. Hájí Mírzá Aqásí’s recklessness and prodigality had fanned into flame the smouldering fires of discontent, had exasperated the masses and encouraged them to stir up sedition and mischief. The most turbulent elements in Khurásán that inhabited the regions of Quchán, Bujnurd, and Shíraván leagued themselves with the Salar, son of the Asifu’d-Dawlih, the elder maternal uncle of the Sháh and governor of the province, and repudiated the authority of the central government. Whatever forces were despatched from the capital met with immediate defeat at the hands of the chief instigators of the rebellion. Ja’far-Qulí Khán-i-Namdar and Amír Arslán Khán, son of the Salar, who conducted the operations against the forces of the Sháh, displayed the utmost cruelty and, having repulsed the attacks of the enemy, mercilessly put their captives to death.
Mullá Husayn was at that time residing at Mashhad, 15 and was endeavouring, despite the tumult which that revolt had occasioned, to spread the knowledge of the new Revelation. No sooner had he discovered that the Salar, in his desire to extend the scope of the rebellion, had determined to approach him and obtain his support, than he promptly decided to leave the city in order to avoid implicating himself 255 self in the plots of that proud and rebellious chief. In the dead of night, with only Qambar-‘Alí as his attendant, he proceeded on foot in the direction of Tihrán, from which place he was determined to visit Ádhirbayján, where he hoped to meet the Báb. His friends, when they learned of the manner of his departure, immediately provided whatever would be conducive to the comforts of his long and arduous journey and hastened to overtake him. Mullá Husayn declined their help. “I have vowed,” he said, “to walk the whole distance that separates me from my Beloved. I shall not relax in my resolve until I shall have reached my destination.” He even tried to induce Qambar-‘Alí to return to Mashhad, but was finally obliged to yield to his entreaty to allow him to act as his servant throughout his pilgrimage to Ádhirbayján.
On his way to Tihrán, Mullá Husayn was enthusiastically greeted by the believers in the different towns through which he passed. They addressed to him the same request and received from him the same reply. I have heard the following testimony from the lips of Áqáy-i-Kalím: “When Mullá Husayn arrived at Tihrán, I, together with a large number of believers, went to visit him. He seemed to us the very embodiment of constancy, of piety and virtue. He inspired us with his rectitude of conduct and passionate loyalty. Such were the force of his character and the ardour of his faith that we felt convinced that he, unaided and alone, would be capable of achieving the triumph of the Faith of God.” He was, with secrecy, ushered into the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, and, soon after his interview, proceeded to Ádhirbayján.
The night before his arrival at Máh-Kú, which was the eve of the fourth Naw-Rúz after the declaration of the 256 Mission of the Báb, and which fell in that year, the year 1264 A.H., 16 on the thirteenth of the month of Rabí’u’th-Thání, ‘Alí Khán dreamed a dream. “In my sleep,” he thus relates his story, “I was startled by the sudden intelligence that Muhammad, the Prophet of God, was soon to arrive at Máh-Kú, that He was to proceed directly to the castle in order to visit the Báb and to offer Him His congratulations on the advent of the Naw-Rúz festival. In my dream, I ran out to meet Him, eager to extend to so holy a Visitor the expression of my humble welcome. In a state of indescribable gladness, I hastened on foot in the direction of the river, and as I reached the bridge, which lay at a distance of a maydán 17 from the town of Máh-Kú, I saw two men advancing towards me. I thought one of them to be the Prophet Himself, while the other who walked behind Him I supposed to be one of His distinguished companions. I hastened to throw myself at His feet, and was bending to kiss the hem of His robe, when I suddenly awoke. A great joy had flooded my soul. I felt as if Paradise itself, with all its delights, had been crowded into my heart. Convinced of the reality of my vision, I performed my ablutions, offered my prayer, arrayed myself in my richest attire, anointed myself with perfume, and proceeded to the spot where, the night before in my dream, I had gazed upon the countenance of the Prophet. I had instructed my attendants to saddle three of my best and swiftest steeds and to conduct them immediately to the bridge. The sun had just risen when, alone and unescorted, I walked out of the town of Máh-Kú in the direction of the river. As I approached the bridge, I discovered, with a throb of wonder, the two men whom I had seen in my dream walking one behind the other, and advancing towards me. Instinctively I fell at the feet of the one whom I believed to be the Prophet, and devoutly kissed them. I begged Him and His companion to mount the horses which I had prepared for their entry into Máh-Kú. ‘Nay,’ was His reply, ‘I have vowed to accomplish the whole of my journey on foot. I will walk to the summit of this mountain and will there visit your Prisoner.’”
This strange experience of ‘Alí Khán brought about a 257 deepening of reverence in his attitude towards the Báb. His faith in the potency of His Revelation became even greater, and his devotion to Him was vastly increased. In an attitude of humble surrender, he followed Mullá Husayn until they reached the gate of the castle. As soon as the eyes of Mullá Husayn fell upon the countenance of his Master, who was seen standing at the threshold of the gate, he halted instantly and, bowing low before Him, stood motionless by His side. The Báb stretched forth His arms and affectionately embraced him. Taking him by the hand, He conducted him to His chamber. He then summoned His friends into His presence and celebrated in their company the feast of Naw-Rúz. Dishes of sweetmeats and of the choicest fruits had been spread before Him. He distributed them among His assembled friends, and as He offered some of the quinces and apples to Mullá Husayn, He said: “These luscious fruits have come to us from Milán, the Ard-i-Jannat, 18 and have been specially plucked and consecrated to this feast by the Ismu’lláhu’l-Fatiq, Muhammad-Taqí.”
Until that time no one of the disciples of the Báb but Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdí and his brother had been allowed to spend the night within the castle. That day ‘Alí Khán went to the Báb and said: “If it be Your desire to retain 258 Mullá Husayn with You this night, I am ready to abide by Your wish, for I have no will of my own. However long You desire him to stay with You, I pledge myself to carry out Your command.” The disciples of the Báb continued to arrive in increasing numbers at Máh-Kú, and were immediately and without the least restriction admitted to His presence.
One day, as the Báb, in the company of Mullá Husayn, was looking out over the landscape of the surrounding country from the roof of the castle, He gazed towards the west and, as He saw the Araxes winding its course far away below Him, turned to Mullá Husayn and said: “That is the river, and this is the bank thereof, of which the poet Háfiz has thus written: ‘O zephyr, shouldst thou pass by the banks of the Araxes, implant a kiss on the earth of that valley and make fragrant thy breath. Hail, a thousand times hail, to thee, O abode of Salma! How dear is the voice of thy camel-drivers, how sweet the jingling of thy bells!’ 19 The days of your stay in this country are approaching their end. But for the shortness of your stay, we would have shown you the ‘abode of Salma,’ even as we have revealed to your eyes the ‘banks of the Araxes.’” By the “abode of Salma” the Báb meant the town of Salmas, which is situated in the neighbourhood of Chihríq and which the Turks designate as Salmas. Continuing His remarks, the Báb said: “It is the immediate influence of the Holy Spirit that causes words such as these to stream from the tongue of poets, the significance of which they themselves are oftentimes unable to apprehend. The following verse is also divinely inspired: ‘Shíráz will be thrown into a tumult; a Youth of sugar-tongue will appear. I fear lest the breath of His mouth should agitate and upset Baghdád.’ The mystery enshrined within this verse is now concealed; it will be revealed in the year after Hin.” 20 The Báb subsequently quoted this well-known tradition: “Treasures lie hidden beneath the throne 259 of God; the key to those treasures is the tongue of poets.” He then, one after the other, related to Mullá Husayn those events which must needs transpire in the future, and bade him not to mention them to anyone. 21 “A few days after your departure from this place,” the Báb informed him, “they will transfer Us to another mountain. Ere you arrive at your destination, the news of Our departure from Máh-Kú will have reached you.”
The prediction which the Báb had uttered was promptly fulfilled. Those who had been charged to watch secretly the movements and conduct of ‘Alí Khán submitted to Hájí Mírzá Aqásí a detailed report in which they expatiated upon his extreme devotion to his Prisoner and described such incidents as tended to confirm their statements. “Day and night,” they wrote him, “the warden of the castle of Máh-Kú is to be seen associating with his captive in conditions of unrestrained freedom and friendliness. ‘Alí Khán, who obstinately refused to wed his daughter with the heir to the throne of Persia, pleading that such an act would so infuriate the sunní relatives of his mother that they would unhesitatingly put him and his daughter to death, now with the keenest eagerness desires that same daughter to be espoused to the Báb. The latter has refused, but ‘Alí Khán still persists in his entreaty. But for the prisoner’s refusal, the nuptials of the maiden would have been already celebrated.” ‘Alí Khán had actually made such a request and had even begged Mullá Husayn to intercede in his behalf with the Báb but had failed to obtain His consent.
These malevolent reports had an immediate influence upon Hájí Mírzá Aqásí. Fear and resentment again impelled that capricious minister to issue a peremptory order for the transference of the Báb to the castle of Chihríq.
Twenty days after Naw-Rúz, the Báb bade farewell to the people of Máh-Kú, who, in the course of His nine months’ captivity, had recognised to a remarkable degree the power 260 of His personality and the greatness of His character. Mullá Husayn, who had already, at the bidding of the Báb, departed from Máh-Kú, was still in Tabríz when the news of his Master’s predicted transference to Chihríq reached him. As the Báb bade His last farewell to Mullá Husayn, He addressed him in these words: “You have walked on foot all the way from your native province to this place. On foot you likewise must return until you reach your destination; for your days of horsemanship are yet to come. You are destined to exhibit such courage, such skill and heroism as shall eclipse the mightiest deeds of the heroes of old. Your daring exploits will win the praise and admiration of the dwellers in the eternal Kingdom. You should visit, on your way, the believers of Khúy, of Urúmíyyih, of Marághih, of Milán, of Tabríz, of Zanján, of Qazvín, and of Tihrán. To each you will convey the expression of My love and tender affection. You will strive to inflame their hearts anew with the fire of the love of the Beauty of God, and will endeavour to fortify their faith in His Revelation. From Tihrán you should proceed to Mázindarán, where God’s hidden treasure will be made manifest to you. You will be called upon to perform deeds so great as will dwarf the mightiest achievements of the past. The nature of your task will, in that place, be revealed to you, and strength and guidance will be bestowed upon you that you may be fitted to render your service to His Cause.”
On the morning of the ninth day after Naw-Rúz, Mullá Husayn set forth, as bidden by his Master, on his journey to Mázindarán. To Qambar-‘Alí the Báb addressed these parting words: “The Qambar-‘Alí of a bygone age would glory in that his namesake has lived to witness a Day for which even He 22 who was the Lord of his lord sighed in vain; of which He, with keen longing, has spoken: ‘Would that My eyes could behold the faces of My brethren who have been privileged to attain unto His Day!’” 261
1. Literally “the Open Mountain,” allusion to Máh-Kú. The numerical value of “Jabál-i-Basít equivalent to that of “Máh-Kú.”   [ Back To Reference]
2. Literally “the Grievous Mountain,” allusion to Chihríg. The numerical value of “Jabál-i-Shadíd” is equivalent to that of “Chihríg.”   [ Back To Reference]
3. Refer to Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
4. “He dwells in a mountain of which the inhabitants could not even pronounce the name ‘Jannat’ (Paradise) which is an Arabic word; how then could they understand its meaning? Imagine then what can happen in the matter of the essential truths!” (“Le Bayán Persan,” vol. 4, p. 14.)   [ Back To Reference]
5. “The country of the first minister on the Ádhirbayján frontier, this village was lifted out of obscurity under the administration of this minister and many citizens of Máh-Kú were raised to the highest offices in the state, because of their slavish attitude toward Hájí Mírzá Aqásí.” (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 356, note 1.)   [ Back To Reference]
6. “The Báb himself tells us how he spent his days in the prison in which he was held captive. His lamentations, so frequent in the Bayán, were, I believe, due to the discipline which, from time to time, grew more severe at the command from Tihrán. All the historians, in fact, Bábís as well as Moslem, tell us that in spite of the strict orders to keep the Báb from communicating with the outer world, the Báb received great numbers of disciples and strangers in his prison. (The author of Mutanabbiyyin writes: ‘The Bábís from all parts of the earth went to Ádhirbayján on a pilgrimage to their chief.’)

“‘Oh! How great is your blindness, O my children ! That which you do, you do believing to please me! And in spite of these verses which prove my being, these verses which flow from my power, the treasure of which is the very being of this personage (the Báb), in spite of these verses which come from his lips only by my permission, behold that, without any right whatsoever, you have placed him on the summit of a mountain whose inhabitants are not even worthy of mention. Close to him, which is close to me, there is no one except one of the Letters of the Living of my book. In his hands, which are my hands, there is not even a servant to light the lamp at night. And behold! The men who are upon the earth have been created only for his own existence: it is through his good will that has come all their joy and they do not give him even a light!’ (Unite 2, porte 1.)

“‘The fruit of the religion of Islám is faith in the Manifestation (of the Báb) and behold they imprison him in Máh-Kú!’ (Unite 2, porte 7.) ‘All that belongs to the divinely Chosen One is in heaven. This solitary room (wherein I am) which has not even a door, is today the greatest of the gardens of Paradise, for the Tree of Truth is planted herein. All the atoms of which it is composed cry out, “In truth, there is no other God but God, and there is no other God beside me, the Lord of the Universe!”’ (Unite 2, porte 16.)

“‘The fruit of this door is that men, seeing that it is permitted to do all that for the Bayán (that is, spend so much money) which is only the foreshadowing of Him whom God shall make manifest, must realize what should be done for Him whom God shall make manifest, when he will appear, so that he will be spared what is happening to me on this day. That is to say, that there are throughout the world many Qur’áns worth thousands of túmáns, while He who has showered verses (the Báb) is imprisoned on a mountain, in a room built of bricks baked in the sun. And, notwithstanding, that room is the Arch itself (9th heaven, the abode of Divinity). Let this be an example to the Bayánís so that they may not act toward Him as the believers in the Qur’án have acted toward me.’ (Unite 3, porte 19.)” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” pp. 365–367.)

“All believe in Him, and still they have imprisoned him on a mountain! All are made glad in Him and they have abandoned him! No fire is fiercer for those who have acted thus than their very works; likewise for the believers no heaven is higher than their own faith!” (“Le Bayán Persan,” vol. 1, pp. 126–127.)   [ Back To Reference]

7. So great multitudes continued to come from all quarters to visit the Báb, and the writings which emanated from His inspired pen during this period were so numerous that they amounted in all to more than a hundred thousand verses.” (The “Taríkh-i-Jadíd,” p. 238.)

“Behold, that about one hundred thousand lines similar to these verses have been scattered among men not to mention the prayers and questions of science and philosophy.” (“Le Bayán Persan,” vol. 1, p. 43.) “Consider also the Point of the Bayán. Those who are familiar with it know how great its importance was before the manifestation; but thereafter, and although it has revealed more than five hundred thousand verses upon diverse subjects, attacks are made upon it which are so violent that no writer would wish to relate them.” (“Le Bayán Persan,” vol. 3, p. 113.)

“The verses which have rained from this Cloud of Divine mercy [the Báb] have been so abundant that none hath yet been able to estimate their number. A score of volumes are now available. How many still remain beyond our reach! How many have been plundered and have fallen into the hands of the enemy, the fate of which none knoweth!” (The “Kitáb-i-Íqán,” pp. 182–3.)   [ Back To Reference]

8. Allusion to Bahá’u’lláh. “To Mullá Báqir, one of the Letters of the Living—the glory and favour of God be upon him—He [the Báb] addresses these words: ‘Haply, in the eighth year, the Day of His Manifestation, thou mayest attain His presence.’” (“The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,” p. 129.)   [ Back To Reference]
9. “It is always in the same line of thought that when imprisoned in Máh-Kú he addressed a long letter to the Sháh (Muhammad Sháh) which we are about to analyze here. The document begins like nearly all the literary documents of the Báb with exalted praise of Divine Unity. The Báb continues in praising, as is fitting, Muhammad, the twelve Imáms, who, as we shall see in the second volume of this work, are cornerstones of the Bayán edifice. ‘I affirm,’ he exclaims, ‘that everything which is in this world of possibilities other than they, is, in comparison, as absolute nothingness, and if one could express it at all, all that is but a shadow of a shadow. I ask God to pardon me for assigning to them such limits. In truth, the highest degree of praise which one can confer upon them is to confess in their very presence that it is impossible to praise them….

“‘This is why God has created me out of a clay from which no one else has been created. And God has given me what the learned, with all their science, are unable to understand, what no one can know unless he be completely humbled before my revelation…. Know then in truth, I am a pillar of the first word; whosoever knows that first word has known God wholly, and has entered into the universal good. Whosoever has refused to know it has remained in ignorance of God and has entered into the universal evil.

“‘I take God as witness, the Master of the two worlds, he who here below lives as long as nature permits and remains all his life the servant of God in all the works prescribed by true religion, if he entertains in his heart any enmity towards me, even so little that God alone might be aware of it, he is useless and God will prepare for him a punishment; he will be among those destined to die. God has determined the good which is implied in obedience to me, and all the evil which follows disobedience to my commands. In truth, today I see all that I have just said; I see the children of my love, the obedient ones in the highest heaven, while my enemies are thrust into the depths of eternal fire!

“‘By my life, I swear, if I had not been obliged to accept the station of the Hujjat of God, I would not have warned you!’…

“It is evident that the Báb re-states his affirmations made in the Kitáb-i-baynu’i-Haramayn without addition or retraction. ‘I am,’ he says, ‘the Point from which all being flows. I am that Face of God which never dies! I am that Light which is never extinguished! He who knows me is accompanied with all good, he who rejects me is pursued by evil. In truth, when Moses besought God that he might gaze upon Him, God radiated upon the mountain and as the hadíth explains, “this light, I solemnly affirm was my light.” Do you not see that the numerical value of the letters which make up my name is equal to the value of those which compose the word Rabb (Lord)? But has not God said in the Qur’án, “And when your Rabb radiates upon the mountain”?’

“The Báb continues with a study of the prophecies contained in the Qur’án and in some of the hadíths concerning the manifestation of the Mihdí. He relates the celebrated hadíth of Mufaddál which is one of the strongest arguments in favor of the truth of his mission.

“It is said in the Qur’án, chapter 32, verse 4: ‘From the heaven to the earth, He governeth all things; hereafter shall they come up to Him on a day whose length shall be a thousand of such years as ye reckon.’ (Note: J. M. Rodwell’s translation.)

“On the other hand, the last Imám disappeared in the year 260 of the Hegira; it is at that time that the prophetic manifestation is completed and that ‘The door of science is closed.’ But Mufaddál questioned the Imám Sádiq as to the signs of the coming of the Mihdí and the Imám answered: ‘He will appear in the year sixty and his name will be glorified.’ This means in the year 1260 which is precisely the year of the manifestation of the Báb.

“On this subject Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad said: ‘I declare before God I have never been taught and my education has been that of a merchant. In the year sixty, I felt my heart filled with potent verses, with true knowledge and with the testimony of God and I proclaimed my mission that very year…. That same year I sent you a messenger (Mullá Husayn-i-Bushrú’í) carrying a Book, so that the government might fulfill its duty towards the Hujjat. But the will of God being that civil war should break out which would deafen the ears of men, blind their eyes and crush their hardened hearts, the messenger was not permitted to reach you. Those who considered themselves patriots intervened and, even today, after a lapse of four years, no one has told you the truth regarding this occurrence. And now as my time is near and my work is not human but divine, I have written briefly to you.

“‘If you could know how during these four years your officials and delegates have treated me! If you knew, the fear of God would choke you unless you would decide immediately to obey the Hujjat and make amends for the harm done.

“‘I was in Shíráz and I suffered from this evil and accursed governor such tyrannies that, if you knew even the least of them, your sense of justice would exact revenge, because his cruelty has drawn the punishment of heaven even unto the judgment day on the entire empire. This man, very proud and always inebriated, never gave an intelligent order. I was forced to leave Shíráz and was on my way to visit you in Tihrán, but the late Mu’tamídu’d-Dawlih understood my mission and did what respect for God’s elect demands. The ignorant of the city started an uprising and I, therefore, hid myself in the Palace of Sadr until the death of Mu’tamídu’d-Dawlih. May God reward him! There is no doubt that his salvation from eternal fire is due to what he has done for me. Then Gurgín forced me to travel during seven nights with five other men, exposed to every discomfort and brutality and deprived of every necessity. At last, the Sultán ordered that I should be taken to Máh-Kú without even providing me with a mount. I finally reached that village whose inhabitants are ignorant and coarse. I affirm before God, if you knew in what place I dwell, you would be the first to pity me. It is a dungeon on a mountain top and I owe that to your kindness! My companions are two men and four dogs. Imagine how I spend my days! I thank God as He should be thanked, and I declare before God that he who has thus imprisoned me is satisfied with himself. And if he only knew who it is he has so treated he would never again taste happiness!

“‘And now I reveal a secret to you! This man in imprisoning me has imprisoned all of the prophets, all the saints and him who is filled with divine wisdom. There is no sin which has not brought me affliction. When I learned of your command (to take me to Máh-Kú) I wrote to Sadr-i-‘Azam: “Kill me and send my head wherever you please, because to live without sin among sinners does not please me.” He did not reply and I am convinced that he did not understand the matter, because to sadden without reason the hearts of the believers is worse than to destroy the very house of God; but I declare that it is I who am today the house of God! Reward comes to him who is good to me; it is as though he were good to God, to His angels and to His saints. But perhaps God and His saints are too high above us for the good or evil of men to reach their threshold, but what happens to God, happens to me. I declare before God that he who has imprisoned me has imprisoned himself; only that which is the will of God can happen to me. Woe to him whose hand works evil! Blessed is he who scatters good!

“‘At last, to sum up this letter already too long: The late Mu’tamíd, one night, dismissed all his guests to retire, even Hájí Mullá Ahmad, and then he said to me: “I know very well that all I have acquired has been obtained through force and all that I have belongs to the Sáhibu’z-Zamán. I therefore give it all to thee, thou art the Master of Truth and I ask of thee the privilege of ownership.” He even took the ring off his finger and gave it to me. I took it and gave it back to him and I sent him away in possession of all his goods. God is witness of the truth of this testimony. I do not wish for a dinar of his wealth, that is for you to dispose of; but as, in any dispute, God requires the testimony of two witnesses, from the midst of all the learned, call Siyyid Yahyá and Akhund Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Khaliq. They will show you and will explain my verses and the truth of my testimony will appear.

“‘Of these two personages, one knew me before the manifestation, the other afterward; I have chosen them because they both know me well!’

“The letter ends with cabalistic proofs and some hadíths. It is clear therefore that the Báb was very unhappy in his prison. He evidently remained there a long time, as the document which we have quoted dates back to 1264, and the execution of the martyr took place only on the twenty-seventh of Sha’bán of the year 1266 (July 8, 1850).” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” pp. 367–373.)   [ Back To Reference]

10. This is the prayer which the Báb Himself quotes in the “Dalá’il-i-Sab‘ih” as His supplication during the months of His captivity in the castle of Máh-Kú:

“O my God! Grant to him, to his descendants, to his family, to his friends, to his subjects, to his relatives and all the inhabitants of the earth the light which will clarify their vision and facilitate their task; grant that they may partake of the noblest works here and hereafter!

“In truth, nothing is impossible to Thee.

“O my God! give him the power to bring about a revival of Thy religion and give life by him to what Thou hast changed in Thy Book. Manifest through him Thy new commandments so that through him Thy religion may blossom again! Put into his hands a new Book, pure and holy, that this Book may be free from all doubt and uncertainty and that no one may be able to alter or destroy it.

“O my God! Dispel through Thy splendor all darkness and through his evident power do away with the antiquated laws. By his preeminence ruin those who have not followed the ways of God. Through him destroy all tyrants, put an end, through his sword, to all discord; annihilate, through his justice, all forms of oppression; render the rulers obedient to his commandments; subordinate all the empires of the world to his empire!

“O my God! Humble everyone who desires to humble him; destroy all his enemies; deny anyone who denies him and confuse anyone who spurns the truth, resists his orders, endeavors to darken his light and blot his name!”

The Báb then adds these words:

“Repeat these benedictions often and, if time to recite them all be lacking, do not fail to say at least the last. Be awake on the day of the apparition of Him whom God will manifest because this prayer has come down from heaven for Him, although I hope no sorrow awaits Him; I have taught the believers in my religion never to rejoice over the misfortune of anyone. It is possible therefore that at the time of the appearance of the Sun of Truth no suffering may fall upon Him.” (“Le Livre des Sept Preuves,” translation of A. L. M. Nicolas, pp. 64–65.)   [ Back To Reference]

11. “L’auteur du Mutanabiyyin écrit: ‘Les Bábí de toutes les parties de la terre se rendaient en Ádhirbayján, en pelerinage aupres de leur chef.’” (Prince ‘Alí-Qulí Mírzá, I’tidádu’s-Saltanih being the author.) (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” p. 365, note 227.)   [ Back To Reference]
12. December 9, 1847-January 8, 1848 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
13. “During his sojourn in Máh-Kú, the Báb composed a great number of works amongst the most important of which may be especially mentioned the Persian Bayán and the Seven Proofs, (Dalá’il-i-Sab‘ih) both of which contain ample internal evidence of having been written at this period. Indeed, if we may credit a statement made in the Taríkh-i-Jadíd, on the authority of Mírzá ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb, the various writings of the Báb, current in Tabríz alone, amounted in all to not less than a million verses!” (“A Traveller’s Narrative” Note L, p. 200.)

Regarding the “Dalá’il-i-Sab‘ih,” Nicolas writes as follows: “‘The Book of Seven Proofs’ is the most important of the polemical works from the pen of Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad, dit le Báb.” (Preface, page 1.)

“His correspondent evidently asked him for the proofs of his mission and his answer is admirable for its precision and clearness. It rests upon two verses of the Qur’án; according to the first, no one can reveal verses even though assisted by the entire world of men and evil spirits; according to the second, no one can understand the meaning of the verses of the Qur’án except God, and men of solid learning.” (Preface, p. 5.)

“Clearly the arguments of the Báb are new and original and one can see, by this brief reference, of what profound interest must be his literary work. The scope of my work does not permit me to expound, even briefly, the principal dogmas of a bold doctrine the form of which is both brilliant and attractive. I hope to do so in the future but I wish to make another comment upon the ‘Book of the Seven Proofs’: toward the end of his book, the Báb speaks of the miracles which have accompanied his manifestation. This will probably astonish the readers, as we have seen the new apostle deny clearly the truth of the physical miracles which the Muhammadan imagination attributes to Muhammad. He affirms that, for himself as well as for the Arabian Prophet, the only proof of his mission was the outpouring of the verses. He offers no other proof, not because he is unable to perform miracles, (God being all-powerful) but simply because physical marvels are of inferior order in comparison with spiritual miracles.” (Preface, pp. 12–13.) (“Le Livre des Sept Preuves,” translation by A. L. M. Nicolas.)   [ Back To Reference]

14. “The province had been for some years the scene of serious uprisings. At the end of 1844 or at the beginning of 1845, the governor of Bujnurd had revolted against the authority of the Sháh and had made an alliance with the Turkomans against Persia. The Prince Asifu’d-Dawlih, governor of Khurásán, asked the capital for assistance. The general Khán Bábá Khán, commander-in-chief of the Persian army, was ordered to send a thousand men against the rebels but the scarcity of public funds prevented the expedition. The Sháh, therefore, planned to head personally a campaign in the spring. The preparations began immediately. Soon ten battalions, of one thousand men each, were ready awaiting the arrival of Prince Hamzih Mírzá, appointed general-in-chief of the expedition. All of a sudden, the governor of Khurásán, Asifu’d-Dawlih, brother of the King’s mother, feeling that his security was threatened by the suspicions of the authorities at Tihrán, arrived at the Court humbly to protest at the feet of the King and to assure him of his complete devotion, and demand that his defamers be punished.

“It so happened that the principal one among his adversaries was Hájí Mírzá Aqásí, the all-powerful prime minister. A long trial took place which ended with the defeat of the governor and he was ordered to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca with the mother of the King.

“The son of Asifu’d-Dawlih, Salar, guardian of the mosque at Mashhad, wealthy in his own right, confident because of his alliance with the chief Kurd, Ja’far-Qulí Khán, Ilkhahní of the tribe of Qájár, assumed a hostile attitude. Thereupon 3000 men and 12 pieces of artillery were sent in retaliation and the government of Khurásán was given into the hands of Hamzih Mírzá.

“The news that Ja’far-Qulí Khán, heading a large troop of cavalry, had attacked the royal expedition, caused five more regiments and eighteen additional field pieces to be sent. On the twenty-eighth of October, 1847, this uprising was completely crushed, through the victory of Sháh-rud (September 15) and the defeat and flight of Ja’far-Qulí-Khán and of Salar.” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” pp. 257–258.)   [ Back To Reference]

15. “Mashhad is the greatest place of pilgrimage in all Persia, Karbilá being, as everyone knows in Ottoman territory. It is in Mashhad that the holy shrine of the Imám Ridá is located. I shall not enlarge upon the hundreds of miracles that have taken place and still take place at this shrine; it is enough to know that every year thousands of pilgrims visit the tomb and return home only after the shrewd exploiters of that productive business have separated them from their last penny. The stream of gold flows on and on for the benefit of the greedy officials; but these officials need the cooperation of many partners to catch their innumerable dupes in their nets. This is, without doubt, the best organized industry in Persia. If one half of the city derives its living from the Mosque, the other half is likewise keenly interested in the great concourse of pilgrims. The merchants, the restaurant and hotel keepers, even the young women who find among the visitors an abundant supply of ‘husbands for a day’!

“All these people were naturally allied against a missionary whose teachings were threatening their livelihood. To denounce these abuses in any other city was tolerable but it was quite improper to denounce them where everyone of every class was thriving upon them. The Imám Mihdí had undoubtedly the right to come but he certainly was a public nuisance. It may have been very thrilling to undertake with him the conquest of the world, but there was fatigue, risk and danger in the enterprise while now they were enjoying perfect peace in a fine city where one could earn a living with ease and security.” (Ibid., pp. 258–259.)   [ Back To Reference]

16. 1848 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
17. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
18. Literally “Land of Paradise.”   [ Back To Reference]
19. According to Hájí Mu’inu’s-Saltanih’s narrative (pp. 67–8), Mírzá Habíb-i-Shírází better known by the name of Qá’iní, one of the most eminent poets of Persia, was the first to sing the praise of the Báb and to extol the loftiness of His station. A manuscript copy of Qá’iní’s poems, containing these verses, was shown to the author of the narrative. The following words, he says, were written at the head of the eulogy: ‘In praise of the manifestation of the Siyyid-i-Báb.’   [ Back To Reference]
20. See note 1, page 18.   [ Back To Reference]
21. In the “Dalá’il-i-Sab‘ih,” the Báb reveals the following: “The hadíth ‘Ádhirbayján’ referring to this matter says: ‘The things which will happen in Ádhirbayján are necessary for us, nothing can prevent their occurrence. Remain therefore in your homes, but if you hear that an agitator has appeared then hasten towards him.’ And the hadíth continues, saying: ‘Woe to the Arabs, for the civil war is near!’ If, in speaking these last words, the Prophet had intended to refer to his own mission, his statement would have been vain and worthless.” (“The Book of Seven Proofs,” Nicolas’ translation, p. 47.)   [ Back To Reference]
22. Reference to the Prophet Muhammad.   [ Back To Reference]