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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 324-378


IN THE same month of Sha’bán that witnessed the indignities inflicted upon the Báb in Tabríz, and the afflictions which befell Bahá’u’lláh and His companions in Níyálá, Mullá Husayn returned from the camp of Prince Hamzih Mírzá to Mashhad, from which place he was to proceed seven days later to Karbilá accompanied by whomsoever he might desire. The prince offered him a sum to defray the expenses of his journey, an offer that he declined, sending the money back with a message requesting him to expend it for the relief of the poor and needy. ‘Abdu’l-‘Alí Khán likewise volunteered to provide all the requirements of Mullá Husayn’s intended pilgrimage, and expressed his eagerness to pay also the expenses of whomsoever he might choose to accompany him. All that he accepted from him was a sword and a horse, both of which he was destined to utilise with consummate bravery and skill in repulsing the assaults of a treacherous enemy.
My pen can never adequately describe the devotion which Mullá Husayn had kindled in the hearts of the people of Mashhad, nor can it seek to fathom the extent of his influence. His house, in those days, was continually besieged by crowds of eager people who begged to be allowed to accompany him on his contemplated journey. Mothers brought their sons, and sisters their brothers, and tearfully implored him to accept them as their most cherished offerings on the Altar of Sacrifice.
Mullá Husayn was still in Mashhad when a messenger arrived bearing to him the Báb’s turban and conveying the news that a new name, that of Siyyid ‘Alí, had been conferred upon him by his Master. “Adorn your head,” was the message, “with My green turban, the emblem of My lineage, and, with the Black Standard 1 unfurled before you, 325 hasten to the Jazíriy-i-Khadrá, 2 and lend your assistance to My beloved Quddús.”
As soon as that message reached him, Mullá Husayn arose to execute the wishes of his Master. Leaving Mashhad for a place situated at a farsang’s 3 distance from the city, he hoisted the Black Standard, placed the turban of the Báb upon his head, assembled his companions, mounted his steed, and gave the signal for their march to the Jazíriy-i-Khadrá. His companions, who were two hundred and two in number, enthusiastically followed him. That memorable day was the nineteenth of Sha’bán, in the year 1264 A.H. 4 Wherever they tarried, at every village and hamlet through which they passed, Mullá Husayn and his fellow-disciples would fearlessly proclaim the message of the New Day, would invite the people to embrace its truth, and would select from among those who responded to their call a few whom they would ask to join them on their journey.
In the town of Nishápúr, Hájí ‘Abdu’l-Majíd, the father of Badí, 5 who was a merchant of note, enlisted under the banner of Mullá Husayn. Though his father enjoyed an unrivalled prestige as the owner of the best-known turquoise mine of Nishápúr, he, forsaking all the honours and material benefits that his native town had conferred upon him, pledged his undivided loyalty to Mullá Husayn. In the village of Miyamay, thirty among its inhabitants declared their faith 326 and joined that company. All of them with the exception of Mullá ‘Ísá, fell martyrs in the fort of Shaykh Tabarsí. 6
Arriving at Chashmih-‘Alí, a place situated near the town of Dámghán and on the highroad to Mázindarán, Mullá Husayn decided to break his journey and to tarry there for a few days. He encamped under the shadow of a big tree, by the side of a running stream. “We stand at the parting of the ways,” he told his companions. “We shall await His decree as to which direction we should take.” Towards the end of the month of Shavval, 7 a fierce gale arose and struck down a large branch of that tree; whereupon Mullá Husayn observed: “The tree of the sovereignty of Muhammad Sháh has, by the will of God, been uprooted and hurled to the ground.” On the third day after he had uttered that prediction, a messenger, who was on his way to Mashhad, arrived from Tihrán and reported the death of his sovereign. 8 The following day, the company determined to leave for Mázindarán. As their leader arose to depart, he pointed in the direction of Mázindarán and said: “This is the way that leads to our Karbilá. Whoever is unprepared for the great trials that lie before us, let him now repair to his home and give up the journey.” He several times repeated that warning, and, as he approached Savád-Kúh, explicitly declared: “I, together with seventy-two of my companions, shall suffer death for the sake of the Well-Beloved. Whoso is unable to renounce the world, let him now at this very moment, depart, for later on he will be unable to escape.” Twenty of his companions chose to return, feeling themselves powerless to withstand the trials to which their chief continually alluded. 327


The news of their approach to the town of Barfurúsh alarmed the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’. The widespread and growing popularity of Mullá Husayn, the circumstances attending his departure from Mashhad, the Black Standard which waved before him—above all, the number, the discipline, and the enthusiasm of his companions, combined to arouse the implacable hatred of that cruel and overbearing mujtahid. He bade the crier summon the people of Barfurúsh to the masjid and announce that a sermon of such momentous consequence was to be delivered by him that no loyal adherent of Islám in that neighbourhood could afford to ignore it. An immense crowd of men and women thronged the masjid, saw him ascend the pulpit, fling his turban to the ground, tear open the neck of his shirt, and bewail the plight into which the Faith had fallen. “Awake,” he thundered from the pulpit, for our enemies stand at our very doors, ready to wipe out all that we cherish as pure and holy in Islám! Should we fail to resist them, none will be left to survive their onslaught. He who is the leader of that band came alone, one day, and attended my classes. He utterly ignored me and treated me with marked disdain in the presence of my assembled disciples. As I refused to accord him the honours which he expected, he angrily arose and flung me his challenge. This man had the temerity, at a time when Muhammad Sháh was seated upon his throne and was at the height of his power, to assail me with so much bitterness. What excesses this stirrer-up of mischief, who is now advancing at the head of his savage band, will not commit now that the protecting hand of Muhammad Sháh has been suddenly withdrawn! It is the duty of all the inhabitants of Barfurúsh, both young and old, both men and women, to arm themselves against these contemptible wreckers of Islám, and by every means in their power to resist their onset. To-morrow, at the hour of dawn, let all of you arise and march out to exterminate their forces.”
The entire congregation arose in response to his call. His passionate eloquence, the undisputed authority he exercised over them, and the dread of the loss of their own lives and property, combined to induce the inhabitants of that town to make every possible preparation for the coming 329 encounter. They armed themselves with every weapon which they could either find or devise, and set out at break of day from the town of Barfurúsh, fully determined to face and slay the enemies of their Faith and to plunder their property. 9
As soon as Mullá Husayn had determined to pursue the way that led to Mázindarán, he, immediately after he had offered his morning prayer, bade his companions discard all their possessions. “Leave behind all your belongings,” he urged them, “and content yourselves only with your steeds and swords, that all may witness your renunciation of all earthly things, and may realise that this little band of God’s chosen companions has no desire to safeguard its own property, much less to covet the property of others.” Instantly they all obeyed and, unburdening their steeds, arose and joyously followed him. The father of Badí was the first to throw aside his satchel, which contained a considerable amount of turquoise which he had brought with him from the mine that belonged to his father. One word from Mullá Husayn proved sufficient to induce him to fling by the road-side what was undoubtedly his most treasured possession, and to cling to the desire of his leader.
At a farsang’s 10 distance from Barfurúsh, Mullá Husayn and his companions encountered their enemies. A multitude of people, fully equipped with arms and ammunition, had gathered, and blocked their way. A fierce expression of savagery rested upon their countenances, and the foulest 330 imprecations fell unceasingly from their lips. The companions, in the face of the uproar of this angry populace, made as if to unsheathe their swords. “Not yet,” commanded their leader; “not until the aggressor forces us to protect ourselves must our swords leave their scabbards.” He had scarcely uttered these words when the fire of the enemy was directed against them. Six of the companions were immediately hurled to the ground. “Beloved leader,” exclaimed one of them, “we have risen and followed you with no desire except to sacrifice ourselves in the path of the Cause we have embraced. Allow us, we pray you, to defend ourselves, and suffer us not to fall so disgracefully a victim to the fire of the enemy.” “The time is not yet come,” replied Mullá Husayn; “the number is as yet incomplete.” A bullet immediately after pierced the breast of one of his companions, a siyyid from Yazd 11 who had walked all the way from Mashhad to that place, and who ranked among his staunchest supporters. At the sight of that devoted companion fallen dead at his feet, Mullá Husayn raised his eyes to heaven and prayed: “Behold, O God, my God, the plight of Thy chosen companions, and witness the welcome which these people have accorded Thy loved ones. Thou knowest that we cherish no other desire than to guide them to the way of Truth and to confer upon them the knowledge of Thy Revelation. Thou hast Thyself commanded us to defend our lives against the assaults of the enemy. Faithful to Thy command, I now arise with my companions to resist the attack which they have launched against us.” 12
Unsheathing his sword and spurring on his charger into the midst of the enemy, Mullá Husayn pursued, with marvellous intrepidity, the assailant of his fallen companion. His opponent, who was afraid to face him, took refuge behind a tree and, holding aloft his musket, sought to shield himself. Mullá Husayn immediately recognised him, rushed 331 forward, and with a single stroke of his sword cut across the trunk of the tree, the barrel of the musket, and the body of his adversary. 13 The astounding force of that stroke confounded the enemy and paralysed their efforts. All fled panic-stricken in the face of so extraordinary a manifestation of skill, of strength, and of courage. This feat was the first of its kind to attest to the prowess and heroism of Mullá Husayn, a feat which earned him the commendation of the Báb. Quddús likewise paid his tribute to the cool fearlessness which Mullá Husayn displayed on that occasion. He is reported to have.quoted, when informed of the news, the following verse of the Qur’án: “So it was not ye who slew them, but God who slew them; and those shafts were God’s, not thine! He would make trial of the faithful by a gracious trial from Himself: verily, God heareth, knoweth. This befell, that God might also bring to naught the craft of the infidels.”
I myself, when in Tihrán, in the year 1265 A.H., 14 a month after the conclusion of the memorable struggle of Shaykh Tabarsí, heard Mírzá Ahmad relate the circumstances of this incident in the presence of a number of believers, among whom were Mírzá Muhammad-Husayn-i-Hakamiy-i-Kirmání, Hájí Mullá Ismá’íl-i-Faráhání, Mírzá Habíbu’lláh-i-Isfahání, and Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahání.
When, at a later time, I visited Khurásán and was staying at the home of Mullá Sádiq-i-Khurásání in Mashhad, where I had been invited to teach the Cause, I asked Mírzá Muhammad-i-Furúghí, 332 in the presence of a number of believers, among whom were Nabíl-i-Akbar and the father of Badí, to enlighten me regarding the true character of that amazing report. Mírzá Muhammad emphatically declared: “I myself was a witness to this act of Mullá Husayn. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it.” In this connection, the same Mírzá Muhammad related to us the following story: “After the engagement of Vas-Kas, when Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá was completely routed, and had fled barefooted from the face of the companions of the Báb, the Amír-Nizám 15 severely rebuked him. ‘I have charged you,’ he wrote him, ‘with the mission of subduing a handful of young and contemptible students. I have placed at your disposal the army of the Sháh, and yet you have allowed it to suffer such a disgraceful defeat. What would have befallen you, I wonder, had I entrusted you with the mission of defeating the combined forces of the Russian and Ottoman governments?’ The prince thought it best to entrust a messenger with the fragments of the barrel of that same rifle which was cleft in twain by the sword of Mullá Husayn, and to instruct him to present them, in person, to the Amír-Nizám. ‘Such is,’ was his message to the Amír, ‘the contemptible strength of an adversary who, with a single stroke of his sword, has shattered into six pieces the tree, the musket, and its holder.’
“So convincing a testimony of the strength of his opponent constituted, in the eyes of the Amír-Nizám, a challenge 333 which no man of his position and authority could afford to ignore. He resolved to curb the power which, by so daring an act, had sought to assert itself against his forces. Unable, in spite of the overwhelming number of his men, to defeat Mullá Husayn and his companions fairly and honourably, he meanly resorted to treachery and fraud as instruments for the attainment of his purpose. He ordered the prince to affix his seal to the Qur’án and pledge the honour of his officers that they would henceforth abstain from any act of hostility towards the occupants of the fort. By this means he was able to induce them to lay down their arms, and to inflict upon his defenceless opponents a crushing and inglorious defeat.”
Such a remarkable display of dexterity and strength could not fail to attract the attention of a considerable number of observers whose minds had remained, as yet, untainted by prejudice or malice. It evoked the enthusiasm of poets who, in different cities of Persia, were moved to celebrate the exploits of the author of so daring an act. Their poems helped to diffuse the knowledge, and to immortalise the memory, of that mighty deed. Among those who paid their tribute to the valour of Mullá Husayn was a certain Ridá-Qulí Khán-i-Lálih-Báshí, who, in the “Taríkh-i-Násirí,” lavished his praise on the prodigious strength and the unrivalled skill which had characterised that stroke.
I ventured to ask Mírzá Muhammad-i-Furúghí whether he was aware that in the “Nasikhu’t-Tavarikh“ mention had been made of the fact that Mullá Husayn had, in his early youth, been instructed in the art of swordsmanship, that he had acquired his proficiency only after a considerable period of training. “This is sheer fabrication,” affirmed Mullá Muhammad. “I have known him from his childhood, and have been associated with him, as a classmate and friend, for a long time. I have never known him to be possessed of such strength and power. I even deem myself superior in vigour and bodily endurance. His hand trembled as he wrote, and he often expressed his inability to write as fully and as frequently as he wished. He was greatly handicapped in this respect, and he continued to suffer from its effects until his journey to Mázindarán. The moment he unsheathed 334 his sword, however, to repulse that savage attack, a mysterious power seemed to have suddenly transformed him. In all subsequent encounters, he was seen to be the first to spring forward and spur on his charger into the camp of the aggressor. Unaided, he would face and fight the combined forces of his opponents and would himself achieve the victory. We, who followed him in the rear, had to content ourselves with those who had already been disabled and were weakened by the blows they had sustained. His name alone was sufficient to strike terror into the hearts of his adversaries. They fled at mention of him; they trembled at his approach. Even those who were his constant companions were mute with wonder before him. We were stunned by the display of his stupendous force, his indomitable will and complete intrepidity. We were all convinced that he had ceased to be the Mullá Husayn whom we had known, and that in him resided a spirit which God alone could bestow.”
This same Mírzá Muhammad-i-Furúghí related to me the following: “Mullá Husayn had no sooner dealt his memorable blow to his adversary than he disappeared from our sight. We knew not whither he had gone. His attendant, Qambar-‘Alí, alone could follow him. He subsequently informed us that his master threw himself headlong upon his enemies, and was able with a single stroke of his sword to strike down each of those who dared assail him. Unmindful of the bullets that rained upon him, he forced his way through the ranks of the enemy and headed for Barfurúsh. He rode straight to the residence of the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’, thrice made the circuit of his house, and cried out: ‘Let that contemptible 335

[Illustrations: VIEWS OF THE CARAVANSERAI OF SABZIH-MAYDÁN IN MÁZINDARÁN] 336 coward, who has incited the inhabitants of this town to wage holy warfare against us and has ignominiously concealed himself behind the walls of his house, emerge from his inglorious retreat. Let him, by his example, demonstrate the sincerity of his appeal and the righteousness of his cause. Has he forgotten that he who preaches a holy war must needs himself march at the head of his followers, and by his own deeds kindle their devotion and sustain their enthusiasm?’”

The voice of Mullá Husayn drowned the clamour of the multitude. The inhabitants of Barfurúsh surrendered and soon raised the cry, “Peace, peace!” No sooner had the voice of surrender been raised than the acclamations of the followers of Mullá Husayn, who at that moment were seen galloping towards Barfurúsh, were heard from every side. The cry of “Yá Sáhibu’z-Zamán!” 16 which they shouted at the top of their voices, struck dismay into the hearts of those who heard it. The companions of Mullá Husayn, who had abandoned the hope of again finding him alive, were greatly surprised when they saw him seated erect upon his horse, unhurt and unaffected by the fierceness of that onset. Each reverently approached him and kissed his stirrups.
On the afternoon of that day, the peace which the inhabitants of Barfurúsh had implored was granted. To the crowd which had gathered about him, Mullá Husayn spoke these words: “O followers of the Prophet of God, and shí’ahs of the imáms of His Faith! Why have you risen against us? Why deem the shedding of our blood an act meritorious in the sight of God? Did we ever repudiate the truth of your Faith? Is this the hospitality which the Apostle of God has enjoined His followers to accord to both the faithful and the infidel? What have we done to merit such condemnation on your part? Consider: I alone, with no other weapon than my sword, have been able to face the rain of bullets which the inhabitants of Barfurúsh have poured upon me, and have emerged unscathed from the midst of the fire with which you have besieged me. Both my person and my horse have escaped unhurt from your overwhelming attack. Except for the slight scratch which I received on my face, you have 337 been powerless to wound me. God has protected me and willed to establish in your eyes the ascendancy of His Faith.”
Immediately afterwards, Mullá Husayn proceeded to the caravanserai of Sabzih-Maydán. He dismounted and, standing at the entrance of the inn, awaited the arrival of his companions. As soon as they had gathered and been accommodated in that place, he sent for bread and water. Those who had been commissioned to fetch them returned empty-handed, and informed him that they had been unable to procure either bread from the baker or water from the public square. “You have exhorted us,” they told him, “to put our trust in God and to resign ourselves to His will. ‘Nothing can befall us but what God hath destined for us. Our liege Lord is He; and on God let the faithful trust!’” 17
Mullá Husayn ordered that the gates of the caravanserai be closed. Assembling his companions, he begged them to remain gathered in his presence until the hour of sunset. As the evening approached, he asked whether any among them would be willing to arise and, renouncing his life for the sake of his Faith, ascend to the roof of the caravanserai and sound the adhán. 18 A youth gladly responded. No sooner had the opening words of “Alláh-u-Akbar” dropped from his lips than a bullet suddenly struck him and immediately caused his death. “Let another one among you arise,” 338 Mullá Husayn urged them, “and, with the selfsame renunciation, proceed with the prayer which that youth was unable to finish.” Another youth started to his feet, and had no sooner uttered the words, “I bear witness that Muhammad is the Apostle of God,” than he also was struck down by another bullet from the enemy. A third youth, at the bidding of his chief, attempted to complete the prayer which his martyred companions had been forced to leave unfinished. He, too, suffered the same fate. As he was approaching the end of his prayer, and was uttering the words, “There is no God but God,” he, in his turn, fell dead.
The fall of his third companion decided Mullá Husayn to throw open the gate of the caravanserai, and to arise, together with his friends, to repulse this unexpected attack from a treacherous enemy. Leaping on horseback, he gave the signal to charge upon the assailants who had massed before the gates and had filled the Sabzih-Maydán. Sword in hand, and followed by his companions, he succeeded in decimating the forces that had been arrayed against him. Those few who had escaped their swords fled before them in panic, again pleading for peace, again imploring mercy. With the approach of evening, the entire crowd had vanished. The Sabzih-Maydán, which a few hours before overflowed with a seething mass of opponents, was now deserted. The clamour of the multitude was stilled. Bestrewn with the bodies of the slain, the Maydán and its surroundings offered a sad and moving spectacle, a scene which bore witness to the victory of God over His enemies.
So startling a victory 19 induced a number of the nobles and chiefs of the people to intervene and beseech the mercy of Mullá Husayn on behalf of their fellow-citizens. They came on foot to submit to him their petition. “God is our witness,” they pleaded, “that we harbour no intention but 339 that of establishing peace and reconciliation between us. Remain seated on your charger for a while, until we have explained our motive.” Observing the earnestness of their appeal, Mullá Husayn dismounted and invited them to join him in the caravanserai. “We, unlike the people of this town, know how to receive the stranger in our midst,” he said, as he invited them to be seated beside him and ordered that they be served with tea. “The Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’,” they replied, “was alone responsible for having kindled the fire of so much mischief. The people of Barfurúsh should in no wise he implicated in the crime which he has committed. Let the past be now forgotten. We would suggest, in the interest of both parties, that you and your companions leave to-morrow for Ámul. Barfurúsh is in the throes of great excitement; we fear lest they may again be instigated to attack you.” Mullá Husayn, though hinting at the insincerity of the people, consented to their proposal; whereupon Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání 20 and Hájí Mustafá Khán arose together and, swearing by the Qur’án which they had brought with them, solemnly declared their intention to regard them as their guests that night, and the following day to instruct Khusraw-i-Qádí-Kalá’í 21 and a hundred horsemen to ensure their safe passage through Shír-Gáh. “The malediction of God and His Prophets be upon us, both in this world and 340 in the next,” they added, “if we ever allow the slightest injury to be inflicted upon you and your party.”
As soon as they had made their declaration, their friends who had gone to fetch food for the companions and fodder for their horses, arrived. Mullá Husayn bade his fellow-believers break their fast, inasmuch as none of them that day, which was Friday, the twelfth of the month of Dhi’l-Qádih, 22 had taken any meat or drink since the hour of dawn. So great was the number of notables and their attendants that had crowded into the caravanserai that day that neither he nor any of his companion had partaken of the tea which they had offered to their visitors.
That night, about four hours after sunset, Mullá Husayn, together with his friends, dined in the company of Abbás-Qulí Khán and Hájí Mustafá Khán. In the middle of that same night, the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’ summoned Khusraw-i-Qádí-Kalá’í and confidentially intimated to him his desire that, at any time or place he himself might decide, the entire property of the party which had been entrusted to his charge should be seized, and that they themselves, without a single exception, should be put to death. “Are these not the followers of Islám?” Khusraw observed. “Have not these same people, as I have already learned, preferred to sacrifice three of their companions rather than leave unfinished the call to prayer which they had raised? How could we, who cherish such designs and perpetrate such acts, be regarded as worthy of that name?” That shameless miscreant insisted that his orders be faithfully obeyed. “Slay them,” he said, as he pointed with his finger to his neck, “and be not afraid. I hold myself responsible for your act. I will, on the Day of Judgment, be answerable to God in your name. We, who wield the sceptre of authority, are surely better informed than you, and can better judge how best to extirpate this heresy.”
At the hour of sunrise, Abbás-Qulí Khán asked that Khusraw be conducted into his presence, and bade him exercise the utmost consideration towards Mullá Husayn and his companions, to ensure their safe passage through Shír-Gáh, and to refuse whatever rewards they might wish to offer him. 341 Khusraw feigned submission to these instructions and assured him that neither he nor his horsemen would relax in their vigilance or flinch in their devotion to them. “On our return,” he added, “we shall show you his own written expression of satisfaction with the services we shall have rendered him.”
When Khusraw was taken by Abbás-Qulí Khán and Hájí Mustafá Khán and other representative leaders of Barfurúsh into the presence of Mullá Husayn and was introduced to him, the latter remarked: “‘If ye do well, it will redound to your own advantage; and if ye do evil, the evil will return upon you.” 23 If this man should treat us well, great shall be his reward; and if he act treacherously towards us, great shall be his punishment. To God would we commit our Cause, and to His will are we wholly resigned.”
Mullá Husayn spoke these words and gave the signal for departure. Once more Qambar-‘Alí was heard to raise the call of his master, “Mount your steeds, O heroes of God!”—a summons which he invariably called out on such occasions. At the sound of those words, they all hurried to their steeds. A detachment of Khusraw’s horsemen marched before them. They were immediately followed by Khusraw and Mullá Husayn, who rode abreast in the centre of the company. In their rear followed the rest of the companions, and on their right and left marched the remainder of the hundred horsemen whom Khusraw had armed as willing instruments for the execution of his design. It had been agreed that the party should start early in the morning from Barfurúsh and arrive on the same day at noon at Shír-Gáh. Two hours after sunrise, they started for their destination. Khusraw intentionally took the way of the forest, a route which he thought would better serve his purpose.
As soon as they had penetrated it, he gave the signal for attack. His men fiercely threw themselves upon the companions, seized their property, killed a number, among whom was the brother of Mullá Sádiq, and captured the rest. As soon as the cry of agony and distress reached his ears, Mullá Husayn halted, and, alighting from his horse, protested against Khusraw’s treacherous behaviour. “The hour of midday is long past,” he told him; “we still have not attained 342 our destination. I refuse to proceed further with you; I can dispense with your guidance and company and that of your men.” Turning to Qambar-‘Alí, he asked him to spread his prayer-mat, that he might offer his devotions. He was performing his ablutions, when Khusraw, who had also dismounted, called one of his attendants and bade him inform Mullá Husayn that if he wished to reach his destination safely, he should deliver to him both his sword and his horse. Refusing to give a reply, Mullá Husayn proceeded to offer his prayer. Shortly after, Mírzá Muhammad-Taqíy-i-Juvayníy-i-Sabzívarí, a man of literary accomplishments and fearless courage, went to an attendant who was preparing the qulayn, 24 and requested him to allow him to take it in person to Khusraw; a request that was readily granted. Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí was bending to kindle the fire of the qulayn, when, thrusting his hand suddenly into Khusraw’s bosom, he drew his dagger from his robe and plunged it hilt-deep into his vitals. 25
Mullá Husayn was still in the act of prayer when the cry of “Yá Sáhibu’z-Zamán” 26 was raised again by his companions. They threw themselves upon their treacherous assailants and in one onslaught struck them all down except the attendant who had prepared the qulayn. Affrighted and defenceless, he fell at the feet of Mullá Husayn and implored his aid. He was given the bejewelled qulayn which belonged to his master and was bidden to return to Barfurúsh and recount to Abbás-Qulí Khán all that he had witnessed. “Tell him,” said Mullá Husayn, “how faithfully Khusraw discharged his mission. That false miscreant foolishly imagined that my mission had come to an end, that both my sword and my horse had fulfilled their function. Little did he know that their work had but just begun, that until the services which they can render are entirely accomplished, neither his power nor the power of any man beside him can wrest them from me.”
As the night was approaching, the party decided to tarry in that spot until the hour of dawn. At daybreak, after Mullá Husayn had offered his prayer, he gathered his companions 343 together and said: “We are approaching our Karbilá, our ultimate destination.” Immediately after, he set out on foot towards that spot, and was followed by his companions. Finding that a few were attempting to carry with them the belongings of Khusraw and of his men, he ordered them to leave everything behind except their swords and horses. “It behoves you,” he urged them, “to arrive at that hallowed spot in a state of complete detachment, wholly sanctified from all that pertains to this world.” 27 He had walked the distance of a maydán 28 when he arrived at the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsí. 29 The Shaykh had been one of the transmitters of the traditions ascribed to the imáms of the Faith, and his burial-place was visited by the people of the neighbourhood. On reaching that spot, he recited the following verse of the Qur’án: “O 344 my Lord, bless Thou my arrival at this place, for Thou alone canst vouchsafe such blessings.”
The night preceding their arrival, the guardian of the shrine dreamed that the Siyyidu’sh-Shuhada’, the Imám Husayn, had arrived at Shaykh Tabarsí, accompanied by no less than seventy-two warriors and a large number or his companions. He dreamed that they tarried in that spot, engaged in the most heroic of battles, triumphing in every encounter over the forces of the enemy, and that the Prophet of God, Himself, arrived one night and joined that blessed company. When Mullá Husayn arrived on the following day, the guardian immediately recognised him as the hero he had seen in his vision, threw himself at his feet, and kissed them devoutly. Mullá Husayn invited him to be seated by his side, and heard him relate his story. “All that you 345 have witnessed,” he assured the keeper of the shrine, “will come to pass. Those glorious scenes will again be enacted before your eyes.” That servant threw in his lot eventually with the heroic defenders of the fort and fell a martyr within its walls.
On the very day of their arrival, which was the fourteenth of Dhi’l-Qádih, 30 Mullá Husayn gave Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir, who had built the Bábíyyih, the preliminary instructions regarding the design of the fort which was to be constructed for their defence. Towards the evening of the same day, they found themselves suddenly encompassed by an irregular multitude of horsemen who had emerged from the forest and were preparing to open fire upon them. “We are of the inhabitants of Qádí-Kalá,” they shouted. “We come to avenge the blood of Khusraw. Not until we have put you all to the sword shall we be satisfied.” Besieged by a savage crowd ready to pounce upon them, the party had to draw 346 their swords again in self-defence. Raising the cry of “Yá Sáhibu’z-Zamán,” they leaped forward, repulsed the assailants, and put them to flight. So tremendous was the shout, that the horsemen vanished as suddenly as they had appeared. Mírzá Muhammad-Taqíy-i-Juvayní had, at his own request, assumed the command of that encounter.
Fearing that their assailants might again turn on them and resort to a general massacre, they pursued them until they reached a village which they thought to be the village of Qádí-Kalá. At the sight of them, all the men fled in wild terror. The mother of Nazar Khán, the owner of the village, was inadvertently killed in the darkness of the night, amid the confusion that ensued. The outcries of the women, who were violently protesting that they had no connection whatever with the people of Qádí-Kalá, soon reached the ears of Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí, who immediately ordered his companions to withhold their hands until they ascertained the name and character of the place. They soon found out that the village belonged to Nazar Khán and that the woman who had lost her life was his mother. Greatly distressed at the discovery of so grievous a mistake on the part of his companions, Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí sorrowfully exclaimed: “We did not intend to molest either the men or the women of this village. Our sole purpose was to curb the violence of the people of Qádí-Kalá, who were about to put us all to death.” He apologised earnestly for the pitiful tragedy which his companions had unwittingly enacted.
Nazar Khán, who in the meantime had concealed himself in his house, was convinced of the sincerity of the regrets expressed by Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí. Though suffering from this grievous loss, he was moved to call upon him and to invite him to his home. He even asked Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí to introduce him to Mullá Husayn, and expressed a keen desire to be made acquainted with the precepts of a Cause that could kindle such fervour in the breasts of its adherents.
At the hour of dawn, Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí, accompanied by Nazar Khán, arrived at the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsí, and found Mullá Husayn leading the congregational prayer. Such was the rapture that glowed upon his countenance 347 that Nazar Khán felt an irresistible impulse to join the worshippers and to repeat the very prayers that were then falling from their lips. After the completion of that prayer, Mullá Husayn was informed of the loss which Nazar Khán had sustained. He expressed in the most touching language the sympathy which he and the entire company of his fellow-disciples felt for him in his great bereavement. “God knows,” he assured him, “that our sole intention was to protect our lives rather than disturb the peace of the neighbourhood.” Mullá Husayn then proceeded to relate the circumstances that had led to the attack directed against them by the people of Barfurúsh, and explained the treacherous conduct of Khusraw. He again assured him of the sorrow which the death of his mother had caused him. “Afflict not your heart,” Nazar Khán spontaneously replied. “Would that a hundred sons had been given me, all of whom I would have joyously placed at your feet and offered as a sacrifice to the Sáhibu’z-Zamán!” He pledged, that very moment, his undying loyalty to Mullá Husayn, and hastened back to his village in order to return with whatever provisions might be required for the party.
Mullá Husayn ordered his companions to commence the building of the fort which had been designed. To every group he assigned a section of the work, and encouraged them to hasten its completion. In the course of these operations, they were continually harassed by the people of the neighbouring villages, who, at the persistent instigations of the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’, marched out and fell upon them. Every attack of the enemy ended in failure and shame. Undeterred by the fierceness of their repeated onsets, the companions valiantly withstood their assaults until they had succeeded in subjugating temporarily the forces which had hemmed them in on every side. When the work of construction was completed, Mullá Husayn undertook the necessary preparations for the siege which the fort was destined to sustain, and provided, despite the obstacles which stood in his way, whatever seemed essential for the safety of its occupants.
The work had scarcely been completed when Shaykh Abú-Turáb arrived bearing the news of Bahá’u’lláh’s arrival at the village of Nazar Khán. He informed Mullá Husayn 348 that he had been specially commanded by Bahá’u’lláh to inform them that they all were to be His guests that night and that He Himself would join them that same afternoon. I have heard Mullá Mírzá Muhammad-i-Furúghí recount the following: “The tidings which Shaykh Abú-Turáb brought imparted an indefinable joy to the heart or Mullá Husayn. He hastened immediately to his companions and bade them bestir themselves for the reception of Bahá’u’lláh. He himself joined them in sweeping and sprinkling with water the approaches to the shrine, and attended in person to whatever was necessary for the arrival of the beloved Visitor. As soon as he saw Him approaching with Nazar Khán, he rushed forward, tenderly embraced Him, and conducted Him to the place of honour which he had reserved for His reception. We were too blind in those days to recognise the glory of Him whom our leader had introduced with such reverence and love into our midst. What Mullá Husayn had perceived, our 349 dull vision was as yet unable to recognise. With what solicitude he received Him in his arms! What feelings of rapturous delight filled his heart on seeing Him! He was so lost in admiration that he was utterly oblivious of us all. His soul was so wrapt in contemplation of that countenance that we who were awaiting his permission to be seated were kept standing a long time beside him. It was Bahá’u’lláh Himself who finally bade us be seated. We, too, were soon made to feel, however inadequately, the charm of His utterance, though none of us were even dimly aware of the infinite potency latent in His words.
Bahá’u’lláh, in the course of that visit, inspected the fort and expressed His satisfaction with the work that had been accomplished. In His conversation with Mullá Husayn, He explained in detail such matters as were vital to the welfare and safety of his companions. ‘The one thing this fort and company require,’ He said, ‘is the presence of Quddús. His association with this company would render it complete and perfect.’ He instructed Mullá Husayn to despatch Mullá Mihdíy-i-Khú’í with six people to Sarí, and to demand Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí that he immediately deliver Quddús into their hands. ‘The fear of God and the dread of His punishment,’ He assured Mullá Husayn, ‘will prompt him to surrender unhesitatingly his captive.’
“Ere He departed, Bahá’u’lláh enjoined them to be patient and resigned to the will of the Almighty. ‘If it be His will,’ He added, ‘We shall once again visit you at this same spot, and shall lend you Our assistance. You have been chosen of God to be the vanguard of His host and the establishers of His Faith. His host verily will conquer. Whatever may befall, victory is yours, a victory which is complete and certain.’ With these words, He committed those valiant companions to the care of God, and returned to the village with Nazar Khán and Shaykh Abú-Turáb. From thence He departed by way of Núr to Tihrán.”
Mullá Husayn set out immediately to carry out the instructions he had received. Summoning Mullá Mihdí, he bade him proceed together with six other companions to Sarí and ask that the mujtahid liberate his prisoner. As soon as the message was conveyed to him, Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí 350 unconditionally acceded to their request. The potency with which that message had been endowed seemed to have completely disarmed him. “I have regarded him,” he hastened to assure the messengers, “only as an honoured guest in my house. It would be unbecoming of me to pretend to have dismissed or released him. He is at liberty to do as he desires. Should he wish it, I would be willing to accompany him.”
Mullá Husayn had in the meantime apprised his companions of the approach of Quddús, and had enjoined them to observe towards him a reverence such as they would feel prompted to show to the Báb Himself. “As to myself,” he added, “you must consider me as his lowly servant. You should bear him such loyalty that if he were to command you to take my life, you would unhesitatingly obey. If you waver or hesitate, you will have shown your disloyalty to your Faith. Not until he summons you to his presence must you in any wise venture to intrude upon him. You should forsake your desires and cling to his will and pleasure. You should refrain from kissing either his hands or his feet, for his blessed heart dislikes such evidences of reverent affection. Such should be your behaviour that I may feel proud of you before him. The glory and authority with which he has been invested must needs be duly recognised by even the most insignificant of his companions. Whoso departs from the spirit and letter of my admonitions, a grievous chastisement will surely overtake him.”
The incarceration of Quddús in the home of Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí, 351 Sarí’s most eminent mujtahid, to whom he was related, lasted five and ninety days. Though confined, Quddús was treated with marked deference, and was allowed to receive most of the companions who had been present at the gathering of Badasht. To none, however, did he grant permission to stay in Sarí. Whoever visited him was urged, in the most pressing terms, to enlist under the Black Standard hoisted by Mullá Husayn. It was the same standard of which Muhammad, the Prophet of God, had thus spoken: “Should your eyes behold the Black Standards proceeding from Khurásán, hasten ye towards them, even though ye should have to crawl over the snow, inasmuch as they proclaim the advent of the promised Mihdí, 31 the Vicegerent of God.” That standard was unfurled at the command of the Báb, in the name of Quddús, and by the hands of Mullá Husayn. It was carried aloft all the way from the city of Mashhad to the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsí. For eleven months, from the beginning of Sha’bán in the year 1264 A.H. 32 to the end of Jamádiyu’th-Thání, in the year 1265 A.H., 33 that earthly emblem of an unearthly sovereignty waved continually over the heads of that small and valiant band, summoning the multitude who gazed upon it to renounce the world and to espouse the Cause of God.
While in Sarí, Quddús frequently attempted to convince Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí of the truth of the Divine Message. He freely conversed with him on the most weighty and outstanding issues related to the Revelation of the Báb. His bold and challenging remarks were couched in such gentle, such persuasive and courteous language, and delivered with such geniality and humour, that those who heard him felt not in the least offended. They even misconstrued his allusions to the sacred Book as humorous observations intended to entertain his hearers. Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí, despite the cruelty and wickedness that were latent in him and which he subsequently manifested by the stand he took in insisting upon the extermination of the remnants of the defenders of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsí, was withheld by an inner power from showing the least disrespect to Quddús while the latter was confined in his home. He even was prompted to prevent 352 the inhabitants of Sarí from offending Quddús, and was often heard to rebuke them for the harm which they desired to inflict upon him.
The news of the impending arrival of Quddús bestirred the occupants of the fort of Tabarsí. As he drew near his destination, he sent forward a messenger to announce his approach. The joyful tidings gave them new courage and strength. Roused to a burst of enthusiasm which he could not repress, Mullá Husayn started to his feet and, escorted by about a hundred of his companions, hastened to meet the expected visitor. He placed two candles in the hands of each, lighted them himself, and bade them proceed to meet Quddús. The darkness of the night was dispelled by the radiance which those joyous hearts shed as they marched forth to meet their beloved. In the midst of the forest of Mázindarán, their eyes instantly recognised the face which they had longed to behold. They pressed eagerly around his steed, and with every mark of devotion aid him their tribute of love and undying allegiance. Still holding the lighted candles in their hands, they followed him on foot towards their destination. Quddús, as he rode along in their midst, appeared as the day-star that shines amidst its satellites. As the company slowly wended its way towards the fort, there broke forth the hymn of glorification and praise intoned by the band of his enthusiastic admirers. “Holy, holy, the Lord our God, the Lord of the angels and the spirit!” rang their jubilant voices around him. Mullá Husayn raised the glad refrain, to which the entire company responded. The forest of Mázindarán re-echoed to the sound of their acclamations.
In this manner they reached the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsí. The first words that fell from the lips of Quddús after he had dismounted and leaned against the shrine were the following: “The Baqíyyatu’lláh 34 will be best for you if ye are of those who believe.” 35 By this utterance was fulfilled the prophecy of Muhammad as recorded in the following tradition: “And when the Mihdí 36 is made manifest, He shall lean His back against the Ka‘bih and shall address to the three hundred and thirteen followers who will have grouped around Him, these words: ‘The Baqíyyatu’lláh will be best for you if 353 ye are of those who believe.’” By “Baqíyyatu’lláh” Quddús meant none other than Bahá’u’lláh. To this testified Mullá Mírzá Muhammad-i-Furúghí, who related to me the following: “I myself was present when Quddús alighted from his horse. I saw him lean against the shrine and heard him utter those same words. No sooner had he spoken them than he made mention of Bahá’u’lláh and, turning to Mullá Husayn, enquired about Him. He was informed that unless God decreed to the contrary, He had signified His intention to return to this place before the first day of Muharram. 37
“Shortly after, Quddús entrusted to Mullá Husayn a number of homilies which he asked him to read aloud to his assembled companions. The first homily he read was entirely devoted to the Báb, the second concerned Bahá’u’lláh, and the third referred to Táhirih. We ventured to express to Mullá Husayn our doubts whether the references in the second homily were applicable to Bahá’u’lláh, who appeared clothed in the garb of nobility. The matter was reported to Quddús, who assured us that, God willing, its secret would be revealed to us in due time. Utterly unaware, in those days, of the character of the Mission of Bahá’u’lláh, we were unable to understand the meaning of those allusions, and idly conjectured as to what could be their probable significance. In my eagerness to unravel the subtleties of the traditions concerning the promised Qá’im, I several times approached Quddús and requested him to enlighten me regarding that subject. Though at first reluctant, he eventually acceded to my wish. The manner of his answer, his convincing and illuminating explanations, served to heighten the sense of awe and of veneration which his presence inspired. He dispelled whatever doubts lingered in our minds, and such were the evidences of his perspicacity that we came to believe that to him had been given the power to read our profoundest thoughts and to calm the fiercest tumult in our hearts.
“Many a night I saw Mullá Husayn circle round the shrine within the precincts of which Quddús lay asleep. How often did I see him emerge in the mid-watches of the night from his chamber and quietly direct his steps to that spot and whisper the same verse with which we all had greeted 354 the arrival of the beloved visitor! With what feelings of emotion I can still remember him as he advanced towards me, in the stillness of those dark and lonely hours which I devoted to meditation and prayer, whispering in my ears these words: ‘Banish from your mind, O Mullá Mírzá Muhammad, these perplexing subtleties and, freed from their trammels, arise and seek with me to quaff the cup of martyrdom. Then will you be able to comprehend, as the year ’80 38 dawns upon the world, the secret of the things which now lie hidden from you.’”
Quddús, on his arrival at the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsí, charged Mullá Husayn to ascertain the number of the assembled companions. One by one he counted them and passed them in through the gate of the fort: three hundred and twelve in all. He himself was entering the fort in order to acquaint Quddús with the result, when a youth, who had hastened all the way on foot from Barfurúsh, suddenly rushed in and seizing the hem of his garment, pleaded to be enrolled among the companions and to be allowed to lay down his life, whenever required, in the path of the Beloved. His wish was readily granted. When Quddús was informed of the total number of the companions, he remarked: “Whatever the tongue of the Prophet of God has spoken concerning the promised One must needs be fulfilled, 39 that thereby His testimony may be complete in the eyes of those divines who esteem themselves as the sole interpreters of the law and traditions of Islám. Through them will the people recognise the truth and acknowledge the fulfilment of these traditions.” 40 355
Every morning and every afternoon during those days, Quddús would summon Mullá Husayn and the most distinguished among his companions and ask them to chant the writings of the Báb. Seated in the Maydán, the open square adjoining the fort, and surrounded by his devoted friends, he would listen intently to the utterances of his Master and would occasionally be heard to comment upon them. Neither the threats of the enemy nor the fierceness of their successive onsets could induce him to abate the fervour, or to break the regularity, of his devotions. Despising all danger and oblivious of his own needs and wants, he continued, even under the most distressing circumstances, his daily communion with his Beloved, wrote his praises of Him, and roused to fresh exertions the defenders of the fort. Though exposed to the bullets that kept ceaselessly raining upon his besieged companions, he, undeterred by the ferocity of the attack, pursued his labours in a state of unruffled calm. “My soul is wedded to Thy mention!” he was wont to exclaim. “Remembrance of Thee is the stay and solace of my life! I glory in that I was the first to suffer ignominiously for Thy 356 sake in Shíráz. I long to be the first to suffer in Thy path a death that shall be worthy of Thy Cause.”
He would sometimes ask his Iráqí companions to chant various passages of the Qur’án, to which he would listen with close attention, and would often be moved to unfold their meaning. In the course of one of their chantings, they came across the following verse: “With somewhat of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and fruits, will We surely prove you: but bear good tidings to the patient.” “These words,” Quddús would remark, “were originally revealed with reference to Job and the afflictions that befell him. In this day, however, they are applicable to us, who are destined to suffer those same afflictions. Such will be the measure of our calamity that none but he who has been endowed with constancy and patience will be able to survive them.”
The knowledge and sagacity which Quddús displayed on those occasions, the confidence with which he spoke, and the resource and enterprise which he demonstrated in the instructions he gave to his companions, reinforced his authority and enhanced his prestige. These at first supposed that the profound 357 reverence which Mullá Husayn showed towards him was dictated by the exigencies of the situation rather than prompted by a spontaneous feeling of devotion to his person. His own writings and general behaviour gradually dispelled such doubts and served to establish him still more firmly in the esteem of his companions. In the days of his confinement in the town of Sarí, Quddús, whom Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí had requested to write a commentary on the Súrih of Ikhlas, better known as the Súrih of Qul Huva’lláhu’l-Ahad, composed, in his interpretation of the Sád of Samad alone, a treatise which was thrice as voluminous as the Qur’án itself. That exhaustive and masterly exposition had profoundly impressed Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí and had been responsible for the marked consideration which he showed towards Quddús, although in the end he joined the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’ in compassing the death of the heroic martyrs of Shaykh Tabarsí. Quddús continued, while besieged in that fort, to write his commentary on that Súrih, and was able, despite the vehemence of the enemy’s onslaught, to pen as many verses as he had previously written in Sarí in his interpretation of that same letter. The rapidity and copiousness of his composition, the inestimable treasures which his writings revealed, filled his companions with wonder and justified his leadership in their eyes. They read eagerly the pages of that commentary which Mullá Husayn brought to them each day and to which he paid his share of tribute.
The completion of the fort, and the provision of whatever was deemed essential for its defence, animated the enthusiasm of the companions of Mullá Husayn and excited the curiosity of the people of the neighbourhood. 41 A few out of sheer curiosity, others in pursuit of material interest, and still others prompted by their devotion to the Cause which that building symbolised, sought to be admitted within its walls and marvelled at the rapidity with which it had been raised. Quddús had no sooner ascertained the number of its occupants 358 than he ordered that no visitor be allowed to enter it. The praises which those who had already inspected the fort had lavished upon it were transmitted from mouth to mouth until they reached the ears of the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’ and kindled within his breast the flame of unrelenting jealousy. In his detestation of those who had been responsible for its erection, he issued the strictest prohibition against anyone’s approaching its precincts and urged all to boycott the companions of Mullá Husayn. Despite the stringency of his orders, a few were found to disregard his wishes and to render whatever assistance was in their power to those whom he had so undeservedly persecuted. The afflictions to which these sufferers were subjected were such that at times they felt a distressing need of the bare necessities of life. In their dark hour of adversity, however, there would suddenly break upon them the light of Divine deliverance opening before their face the door of unexpected relief.
The providential manner in which the occupants of the fort were relieved of the distress which weighed upon them fanned to fury the wrath of the wilful and imperious Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’. Impelled by an implacable hatred, he addressed a burning appeal to Násiri’d-Dín Sháh, who had recently ascended the throne, and expatiated upon the danger with which his dynasty, nay the monarchy itself, was menaced. “The standard of revolt,” he pleaded, “has been raised by the contemptible sect of the Bábís. This wretched band of irresponsible agitators has dared to strike at the very foundations of the authority with which your Imperial Majesty has been invested. The inhabitants of a number of villages in the immediate vicinity of their headquarters have already flown to their standard and sworn allegiance to their cause. They have built themselves a fort, and in that massive stronghold they have entrenched themselves, ready to direct a campaign against you. With unswerving obstinacy they 359 have resolved to proclaim their independent sovereignty, a sovereignty that shall abase to the dust the imperial diadem of your illustrious ancestors. You stand at the threshold of your reign. What greater triumph could signalise the inauguration of your rule than to extirpate this hateful creed that has dared to conspire against you? It will serve to establish your Majesty in the confidence of your people. It will enhance your prestige, and invest your crown with imperishable glory. Should you vacillate in your policy, should you betray the least indulgence towards them, I feel it my duty to warn you that the day is fast approaching when not only the province of Mázindarán but the whole of Persia, from end to end, will have repudiated your authority and will have surrendered to their cause.”
Násiri’d-Dín Sháh, as yet inexperienced in the affairs of State, referred the matter to the officers who commanded the army of Mázindarán and who were in attendance upon him. 42 He instructed them to take whatever means they deemed fit for the eradication of the disturbers of his realm. Hájí Mustafá Khán-i-Turkamán submitted his views to his sovereign: “I myself come from Mázindarán. I have been able to estimate the forces at their disposal. The handful of untrained and frail-bodied students whom I have seen are utterly powerless to withstand the forces which your Majesty can command. The army which you contemplate despatching is in my view unnecessary. A small detachment of that army will be sufficient to wipe them out. They are utterly unworthy of the care and consideration of my sovereign. Should your Majesty be willing to signify your desire, in an imperial message addressed to my brother ‘Abdu’lláh Khán-i-Turkamán, 360 that he should be given the necessary authority to subjugate that band, I am convinced that he will, within the space of two days, quell their rebellion and shatter their hopes.”
The Sháh gave his consent, and issued his farmán 43 to that same ‘Abdu’lláh Khán, bidding him to recruit without delay, from any part of his realm, the forces he might require for the execution of his purpose. He sent with his message a royal badge, which he bestowed upon him as a mark of confidence in his capacity to undertake that task. The receipt of the imperial farmán and the token of the honour which his sovereign had conferred upon him nerved him to fresh resolve to carry out his mission befittingly. Within a short space of time, he had raised an army of about twelve thousand men, composed largely of the Usanlu, the Afghán, and the Kudar communities. 44 He equipped them with whatever ammunition was required, and stationed them in the village of Afra, which was the property of Nazar Khán, and 361 which commanded the fort of Tabarsí. No sooner had he fixed his camp upon that eminence than he set out to intercept the bread which was being daily conveyed to the companions of Mullá Husayn. Even water was soon to be denied them, as it became impossible for the besieged to leave the fort under the fire of the enemy.
The army was ordered to set up a number of barricades in front of the fort and to open fire upon anyone who chanced to leave its gate. Quddús forbade his companions to go out in order to fetch water from the neighbourhood. “Our bread has been intercepted by our enemy,” complained Rasul-i-Bahnimírí. “What will befall us if water should likewise be denied us?” Quddús, who was at that time, the hour of sunset, viewing the army of the enemy in company with Mullá Husayn from the terrace of the fort, turned to him and said: “The scarcity of water has distressed our companions. God willing, this very night a downpour of rain will overtake our opponents, followed by a heavy snowfall, which will assist us to repulse their contemplated assault.”
That very night, the army of ‘Abdu’lláh Khán was surprised by a torrential rain which overwhelmed that section which lay close to the fort. Much of the ammunition was irretrievably ruined. There gathered within the walls of the fort an amount of water which, for a long period, was sufficient for the consumption of the besieged. In the course of the following night, a snowfall such as the people of the neighbourhood even in the depth of winter had never experienced, added considerably to the annoyance which the rain had caused. The next night, which was the evening preceding the fifth of Muharram, in the year 1265 A.H., 45 Quddús determined to leave the gate of the fort. “Praise be to God,” he remarked to Rasul-i-Bahnimírí as he paced with calm and serenity the approaches to the gate, “who has graciously answered our prayer and caused both rain and snow to fall upon our enemies; a fall that has brought desolation into their camp and refreshment into our fort.”
As the hour of the attack approached for which that numerous army, despite the losses it had sustained, was strenuously preparing, Quddús determined to sally out and 362 scatter its forces. Two hours after sunrise, he mounted his steed and, escorted by Mullá Husayn and three other of his companions, all of whom were riding beside him, marched out of the gate, followed by the entire company on foot behind them. As soon as they had emerged, there pealed out the cry of “Yá Sáhibu’z-Zamán!” 46 —a cry that diffused consternation through the camp of the enemy. The roar which these lion-hearted followers of the Báb raised amidst the forest of Mázindarán dispersed the affrighted enemy that lay in ambush within its recesses. The glitter of their bared weapons dazzled their sight, and its menace was sufficient to stun and overpower them. They fled in disgraceful rout before their onrush, leaving all possessions behind them. Within the space of forty-five minutes, the shout of victory had been raised. Quddús and Mullá Husayn had succeeded in bringing under their control the remnants of the defeated army. ‘Abdu’lláh Khán-i-Turkamán, with two of his officers, Habíbu’lláh Khán-i-Afghán and Núru’lláh Khán-i-Afghán, together with no less than four hundred and thirty of their men, had perished.
Quddús returned to the fort while Mullá Husayn was still engaged in pursuing the work which had been so valiantly performed. The voice of Siyyid Abdu’l-’Azim-i-Khu’i was soon raised summoning him, on behalf of Quddús, to return immediately to the fort. “We have repulsed the assailants,” 363 Quddús remarked; “we need not carry further the punishment. Our purpose is to protect ourselves that we may be able to continue our labours for the regeneration of men. We have no intention whatever of causing unnecessary harm to anyone. What we have already achieved is sufficient testimony to God’s invincible power. We, a little band of His followers, have been able, through His sustaining grace, to overcome the organised and trained army of our enemies.”
Despite this defeat, not one of the followers of the Báb lost his life in the course of that encounter. No one except a man named Qulí, who rode in advance of Quddús, was badly wounded. They were all commanded to take none of the property of their adversaries excepting their swords and horses.
As the signs of the reassembling of the forces which had been commanded by ‘Abdu’lláh Khán became apparent, Quddús bade his companions dig a moat around the fort as a safeguard against a renewed attack. Nineteen days elapsed during which they exerted themselves to the utmost for the completion of the task they had been charged to perform. They joyously laboured by day and by night in order to expedite the work with which they had been entrusted. Soon after the work was completed, it was announced that Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá 47 was advancing towards the fort at the head of a numerous army, and had actually encamped at Shír-Gáh. A few days later, he had transferred his headquarters to Vas-Kas. On his arrival, he sent one of his men to inform Mullá Husayn that he had been commanded by the Sháh to ascertain the purpose of his activities and to request that he be enlightened as to the object he had in view. “Tell your master,” Mullá Husayn replied, “that we utterly disclaim any intention either of subverting 364

[Illustrations: VILLAGE OF RIZ-AB; VILLAGE OF FIRUZ-KÚH; VILLAGE OF VAS-KAS] 365 the foundations of the monarchy or of usurping the authority of Násiri’d-Dín Sháh. Our Cause concerns the revelation of the promised Qá’im and is primarily associated with the interests of the ecclesiastical order of this country. We can set forth incontrovertible arguments and deduce infallible proofs in support of the truth of the Message we bear.” The passionate sincerity with which Mullá Husayn pleaded in defence of his Cause, and the details which he cited to demonstrate the validity of his claims, touched the heart of the messenger and brought tears to his eyes. “What are we to do?” he exclaimed. “Let the prince,” Mullá Husayn replied, “direct the ‘ulamás of both Sarí and Barfurúsh to betake themselves to this place, and ask us to demonstrate the validity of the Revelation proclaimed by the Báb. Let the Qur’án decide as to who speaks the truth. Let the prince himself judge our case and pronounce the verdict. Let him also decide as to how he should treat us if we fail to establish, by the aid of verses and traditions, the truth of this Cause.” The messenger expressed his complete satisfaction with the answer he had received, and promised that before the lapse of three days the ecclesiastical dignitaries would be convened in the manner he had suggested.

The promise given by the messenger was destined to remain unfulfilled. Three days after, Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá prepared to launch his attack, on a scale hitherto unprecedented, upon the occupants of the fort. At the head of three regiments of infantry and several regiments of cavalry, he quartered his host upon a height that overlooked that spot, and gave the signal to open fire in that direction.
The day had not yet broken when at the signal, “Mount your steeds, O heroes of God!” Quddús ordered that the gates of the fort be again thrown open. Mullá Husayn and two hundred and two of his companions ran to their horses and followed Quddús as he rode out in the direction of Vas-Kas. Undaunted by the overwhelming forces arrayed against them, and undeterred by the snow and mud which had accumulated on the roads, they headed, without a pause, in the midst of the darkness that surrounded them, towards the stronghold which served as a base for the operations of the enemy. 366
The prince, who was observing the movements of Mullá Husayn, saw him approaching, from his fort, and ordered his men to open fire upon him. The bullets which they discharged were powerless to check his advance. He forced his way through the gate and rushed into the private apartments of the prince, who, with a sudden sense that his life was in danger, threw himself from a back window into the moat and escaped barefooted. 48 His host, deprived of their leader and struck with panic, fled in disgraceful rout before that little band which, despite their own overwhelming numbers and the resources which the imperial treasury had placed at their disposal, they were unable to subdue. 49
As the victors were forcing their way through the section of the fort reserved for the prince, two other princes of royal blood 50 fell in an attempt to strike down their opponents. As they penetrated his apartments, they discovered, in one 367 of his rooms, coffers filled with gold and silver, all of which they disdained to touch. With the exception of a pot of gunpowder and the favourite sword of the prince which they carried as an evidence of their triumph to Mullá Husayn, his companions ignored the costly furnishings which their owner had abandoned in his despair. When they took it to Mullá Husayn, they discovered that he had, as a result of the bullet which had struck his own sword, exchanged it for that of Quddús, with which he was engaged in repulsing the assailant.
They were throwing open the gate of the prison which had been in the hands of the enemy, when they heard the voice of Mullá Yúsúf-i-Ardibílí, who had been made a captive on his way to the fort and was languishing among the prisoners. He interceded for his fellow-sufferers and succeeded in obtaining their immediate release.
On the morning of that memorable engagement, Mullá Husayn assembled his companions around Quddús in the outskirts of Vas-Kas, while he remained himself on horseback in anticipation of a renewed attack by the enemy. He was watching their movements, when he suddenly observed an innumerable host rushing from both sides towards him. All sprang to their feet and, raising again the cry of “Yá Sáhibu’z-Zamán!” pressed forward to face the challenge. Mullá Husayn spurred his charger in one direction, and Quddús and his companions in another. The detachment which was charging Mullá Husayn suddenly deflected its course and, fleeing from before him, joined forces with the rest of the enemy and encompassed Quddús and those who were with him. At a given moment, they discharged a thousand bullets, one of which struck Quddús in the mouth, knocking out several of his teeth and wounding both his tongue and throat. The loud noise which the simultaneous discharge of a thousand bullets produced, and which could be heard at a distance of ten farsangs, 51 filled with apprehension Mullá Husayn, who hastened to the rescue of his friends. As soon as he reached them, he alighted from his horse and, entrusting it to his attendant, Qambar-‘Alí, ran towards Quddús. The sight of blood dripping profusely from the mouth of his beloved chief 368 struck him with fear and dismay. He raised his hands in horror and was on the point of beating himself upon the head when Quddús bade him desist. Obeying his leader instantly, he begged him to be allowed to receive his sword from his hand, which, as soon as it had been delivered, was unsheathed from its scabbard and used to scatter the forces that had massed around him. Followed by a hundred and ten of his fellow-disciples, he faced the forces arrayed against him. Wielding in one hand the sword of his beloved leader and in the other that of his disgraced opponent, he fought a desperate battle against them, and within thirty minutes, during which he displayed marvellous heroism, he succeeded in putting the entire army to flight.
The disgraceful retreat of the army of Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá enabled Mullá Husayn and his companions to repair to the fort. With pain and regret, they conducted their wounded leader to the shelter of his stronghold. On his arrival, Quddús addressed a written appeal to his friends who were bewailing his injury, and by his words of cheer soothed their sorrow. “We should submit,” he exhorted them, “to whatever is the will of God. We should stand firm and steadfast in the hour of trial. The stone of the infidel broke the teeth of the Prophet of God; mine have fallen as a result of the bullet of the enemy. Though my body be afflicted, my soul is immersed in gladness. My gratitude to God knows no bounds. If you love me, suffer not that this joy be obscured by the sight of your lamentations.”
This memorable engagement fell on the twenty-fifth of Muharram, 1265 A.H. 52 In the beginning of that same month, Bahá’u’lláh, faithful to the promise He had given to Mullá Husayn, set out, attended by a number of His friends, from Núr for the fort of Tabarsí. Among those who accompanied Him were Hájí Mírzá Janiy-i-Káshání, Mullá Báqir-i-Tabrízí, one of the Letters of the Living, and Mírzá Yahyá, His brother. Bahá’u’lláh had signified His wish that they should proceed directly to their destination and allow no pause in their journey. His intention was to reach that spot at night, inasmuch as strict orders had been issued, ever since ‘Abdu’lláh 369 Khán had assumed the command, that no help should be extended, under any circumstances, to the occupants of the fort. Guards had been stationed at different places to ensure the isolation of the besieged. His companions, however, pressed Him to interrupt the journey and to seek a few hours of rest. Although He knew that this delay would involve a grave risk of being surprised by the enemy, He yielded to their earnest request. They halted at a lonely house adjoining the road. After supper, his companions all retired to sleep. He alone, despite the hardships He had endured, remained wakeful. He knew well the perils to which He and His friends were exposed, and was fully aware of the possibilities which His early arrival at the fort involved.
As He watched beside them, the secret emissaries of the enemy informed the guards of the neighbourhood of the arrival of the party, and ordered the immediate seizure of whatever they could find in their possession. “We have received strict orders, they told Bahá’u’lláh, whom they recognised instantly as the leader of the group, “to arrest every person we chance to meet in this vicinity, and are commanded to conduct him, without any previous investigation, to Ámul and deliver him into the hands of its governor.” “The matter has been misrepresented in your eyes,” Bahá’u’lláh remarked. “You have misconstrued our purpose. I would advise you to act in a manner that will cause you eventually no regret.” This admonition, uttered with dignity and calm, induced the chief of the guards to treat with consideration and courtesy those whom he had arrested. He bade them mount their horses and proceed with him to Ámul. As they were approaching the banks of a river, Bahá’u’lláh signalled to His companions, who were riding at a distance from the guards, to cast into the water whatever manuscripts they had in their possession.
At daybreak, as they were approaching the town, a message was sent in advance to the acting governor, informing him of the arrival of a party that had been captured on their way to the fort of Tabarsí. The governor himself, together with the members of his body-guard, had been appointed to join the army of Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá, and had commissioned hiskinsman to act in his absence. As 370 soon as the message reached him, he went to the masjid of Ámul and summoned the ‘ulamás and leading siyyids of the town to gather and meet the party. He was greatly surprised as soon as his eyes saw and recognised Bahá’u’lláh, and deeply regretted the orders he had given. He feigned to reprimand Him for the action He had taken, in the hope of appeasing the tumult and allaying the excitement of those who had gathered in the masjid. “We are innocent,” Bahá’u’lláh declared, “of the guilt they impute to us. Our blamelessness will eventually be established in your eyes. I would advise you to act in a manner that will cause you eventually no regret.” The acting governor asked the ‘ulamás who were present to put any question they desired. 371 To their enquiries Bahá’u’lláh returned explicit and convincing replies. As they were interrogating Him, they discovered a manuscript in the possession of one of His companions which they recognised as the writings of the Báb and which they handed to the chief of the ‘ulamás present at that gathering. As soon as he had perused a few lines of that manuscript, he laid it aside and, turning to those around him, exclaimed: “These people, who advance such extravagant claims, have, in this very sentence which I have read, betrayed their ignorance of the most rudimentary rules of orthography.” “Esteemed and learned divine,” Bahá’u’lláh replied, “these words which you criticise are not the words of the Báb. They have been uttered by no less a personage than the Imám ‘Alí, the Commander of the Faithful, in his reply to Kumayl-ibn-i-Ziyad, whom he had chosen as his companion.”
The circumstances which Bahá’u’lláh proceeded to relate in connection with the reply, no less than the manner of His delivery, convinced the arrogant mujtahid of his stupidity and blunder. Unable to contradict so weighty a statement, he preferred to keep silent. A siyyid angrily interjected: “This very statement conclusively demonstrates that its author is himself a Bábí and no less than a leading expounder of the tenets of that sect.” He urged in vehement language that its followers be put to death. “These obscure sectarians are the sworn enemies,” he cried, “both of the State and of the Faith of Islám! We must, at all costs, extirpate that heresy.” He was seconded in his denunciation by the other siyyids who were present, and who, emboldened by the imprecations uttered at that gathering, insisted that the governor comply unhesitatingly with their wishes.
The acting governor was much embarrassed, and realised that any evidence of indulgence on his part would be fraught with grave consequences for the safety of his position. In his desire to hold in check the passions which had been aroused, he ordered his attendants to prepare the rods and promptly inflict a befitting punishment upon the captives. “We will afterwards,” he added, “keep them in prison pending the return of the governor, who will send them to Tihrán, 372 where they will receive, at the hands of the sovereign, the chastisement they deserve.”
The first who was bound to receive the bastinado was Mullá Báqir. “I am only a groom of Bahá’u’lláh,” he urged. “I was on my way to Mashhad when they suddenly arrested me and brought me to this place.” Bahá’u’lláh intervened and succeeded in inducing his oppressors to release him. He likewise interceded for Hájí Mírzá Jání, who He said was “a mere tradesman” whom He regarded as His “guest,” so that He was “responsible for any charges brought against him.” Mírzá Yahyá, whom they proceeded to bind, was also set free as soon as Bahá’u’lláh had declared him to be His attendant. “None of these men,” He told the acting governor, “are guilty of any crime. If you insist on inflicting your punishment, I offer Myself as a willing Victim of your chastisement.” The acting governor was reluctantly compelled to give orders that Bahá’u’lláh alone be chosen to suffer the indignity which he had intended originally for His companions. 53
The same treatment that had been me-ed out to the Báb five months previously in Tabríz, Bahá’u’lláh suffered in the presence of the assembled ‘ulamás of Ámul. The first confinement that the Báb suffered at the hands of His enemies was in the house of ‘Abdu’l-Hamíd Khán, the chief constable of Shíráz; the first confinement of Bahá’u’lláh was in the home of one of the kad-khudás of Tihrán. The Báb’s second imprisonment was in the castle of Máh-Kú; that of Bahá’u’lláh was in the private residence of the governor of Ámul. The Báb was scourged in the namáz-khánih 54 of the Shaykhu’l-Islám of Tabríz; the same indignity was inflicted on Bahá’u’lláh in the namáz-khánih of the mujtahid of Ámul. The Báb’s third confinement was in the castle of Chihríq; Bahá’u’lláh’s was in the Síyáh-Chál 55 of Tihrán. The Báb, whose trials and sufferings had preceded, in almost every case, 373 those of Bahá’u’lláh, had offered Himself to ransom His Beloved from the perils that beset that precious Life; whilst Bahá’u’lláh, on His part, unwilling that He who so greatly loved Him should be the sole Sufferer, shared at every turn the cup that had touched His lips. Such love no eye has ever beheld, nor has mortal heart conceived such mutual devotion. If the branches of every tree were turned into pens, and all the seas into ink, and earth and heaven rolled into one parchment, the immensity of that love would still remain unexplored, and the depths of that devotion unfathomed.
Bahá’u’lláh and His companions remained for a time imprisoned in one of the rooms that formed part of the masjid. 374 The acting governor, who was still determined to shield his Prisoner from the assaults of an inveterate enemy, secretly instructed his attendants to open, at an unsuspected hour, a passage through the wall of the room in which the captives were confined, and to transfer their Leader immediately to his home. He was himself conducting Bahá’u’lláh to his residence when a siyyid sprang forward and, directing his fiercest invectives against Him, raised the club which he held in his hand to strike Him. The acting governor immediately interposed himself and, appealing to the assailant, “adjured him by the Prophet of God” to stay his hand. “What!” burst forth the siyyid. “How dare you release a man who is the sworn enemy of the Faith of our fathers?” A crowd of ruffians had meanwhile gathered around him, and by their howls of derision and abuse added to the clamour which he had raised. Despite the growing tumult, the attendants of the acting governor were able to conduct Bahá’u’lláh in safety to the residence of their master, and displayed on that occasion a courage and presence of mind that were truly surprising.
Despite the protestations of the mob, the rest of the prisoners were taken to the seat of government, and thus escaped from the perils with which they had been threatened. The acting governor offered profuse apologies to Bahá’u’lláh for the treatment which the people of Ámul had accorded Him. “But for the interposition of Providence,” he said, “no force would have achieved your deliverance from the grasp of this malevolent people. But for the efficacy of the vow which I had made to risk my own life for your sake, I, too, would have fallen a victim to their violence, and would have been trampled beneath their feet.” He bitterly complained of the outrageous conduct of the siyyids of Ámul, and denounced the baseness of their character. He expressed himself as being continually tormented by the effects of their malignant designs. He set about serving Bahá’u’lláh with devotion and kindness, and was often heard, in the course of his conversation with Him, to remark: “I am far from regarding you a prisoner in my home. This house, I believe, was built for the very purpose of affording you a shelter from the designs of your foes.” 375
I have heard Bahá’u’lláh Himself recount the following: “No prisoner has ever been accorded the treatment which I received at the hands of the acting governor of Ámul. He treated Me with the utmost consideration and esteem. I was generously entertained by him, and the fullest attention was given to everything that affected My security and comfort. I was, however, unable to leave the gate of the house. My host was afraid lest the governor, who was related to Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání, might return from the fort of Tabarsí and inflict injury upon Me. I tried to dispel his apprehensions. ‘The same Omnipotence,’ I assured him, ‘who has delivered us from the hands of the mischief-makers of Ámul, and has enabled us to be received with such hospitality by you in this house, is able to change the heart of the governor and to cause him to treat us with no less consideration and love.’
“One night we were suddenly awakened by the clamour of the people who had gathered outside the gate of the house. The door was opened, and it was announced that the governor had returned to Ámul. Our companions, who were anticipating a fresh attack upon them, were completely surprised to hear the voice of the governor rebuking those who had denounced us so bitterly on the day of our arrival. ‘For what reason,’ we heard him loudly remonstrating, ‘have these miserable wretches chosen to treat so disrespectfully a guest whose hands are tied and who has not been given the chance to defend himself? What is their justification for having demanded that he be immediately put to death? What evidence have they with which to support their contention? If they be sincere in their claims to be devotedly attached to Islám and to be the guardians of its interests, let them betake themselves to the fort of Shaykh Tabarsí and there demonstrate their capacity to defend the Faith of which they profess to be the champions.’”
What he had seen of the heroism of the defenders of the fort had quite changed the mind and heart of the governor of Ámul. He returned filled with admiration for a Cause which he had formerly despised, and the progress of which he had strenuously resisted. The scenes he witnessed had disarmed his wrath and chastened his pride. Humbly and 376 respectfully, he went to Bahá’u’lláh and apologised for the insolence of the inhabitants of a town that he had been chosen to govern. He served Him with extreme devotion, utterly ignoring his own position and rank. He paid a glowing tribute to Mullá Husayn, and expatiated upon his resourcefulness, his intrepidity, his skill, and nobleness of soul. A few days later, he succeeded in arranging for the safe departure of Bahá’u’lláh and His companions for Tihrán.
Bahá’u’lláh’s intention to throw in His lot with the defenders of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsí was destined to remain unfulfilled. Though Himself extremely desirous to lend every possible assistance in His power to the besieged, He was spared, through the mysterious dispensation of Providence, the tragic fate that was soon to befall the chief participators in that memorable struggle. Had He been able to reach the fort, had He been allowed to join the members of that heroic band, how could He have played His part in the great drama which He was destined to unfold? How could He have consummated the work that had been so gloriously conceived and so marvellously inaugurated? He was in the heyday of His life when the call from Shíráz reached Him. At the age of twenty-seven, He arose to consecrate His life to its service, fearlessly identified Himself with its teachings, and distinguished Himself by the exemplary part He played in its diffusion. No effort was too great for the energy with which He was endowed, and no sacrifice too woeful for the devotion with which His faith had inspired Him. He flung aside every consideration of fame, of wealth, and position, for the prosecution of the task He had set His heart to achieve. Neither the taunts of His friends nor the threats of His enemies could induce Him to cease championing a Cause which they alike regarded as that of an obscure and proscribed sect.
The first incarceration to which He was subjected as a result of the helping hand He had extended to the captives of Qazvín; the ability with which He achieved the deliverance of Táhirih; the exemplary manner in which He steered the course of the turbulent proceedings in Badasht; the manner in which He saved the life of Quddús in Níyálá; the wisdom which He showed in His handling of the delicate situation created by the impetuosity of Táhirih, and the vigilance He 377 exercised for her protection; the counsels which He gave to the defenders of the fort of Tabarsí; the plan He conceived of joining the forces of Quddús to those of Mullá Husayn and his companions; the spontaneity with which He arose to support the exertions of those brave defenders; the magnanimity which prompted Him to offer Himself as a substitute for His companions who were under the threat of severe indignities; the serenity with which He faced the severity inflicted upon Him as a result of the attempt on the life of Násiri’d-Dín Sháh; the indignities which were heaped upon Him all the way from Lavásán to the headquarters of the imperial army and from thence to the capital; the galling weight of chains which He bore as He lay in the darkness of the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán—all these are but a few instances that eloquently testify to the unique position which He occupied as the prime Mover of the forces which were destined to reshape the face of His native land. It was He who had released these forces, who steered their course, harmonised their action, and brought them finally to their highest consummation in the Cause He Himself was destined at a later time to reveal. 378
1. Refer to p. 351.   [ Back To Reference]
2. Literally “Verdant Isle.”   [ Back To Reference]
3. Refer to Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
4. July 21, 1848 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
5. Bearer of Bahá’u’lláh’s Tablet to Násiri’d-Dín Sháh.   [ Back To Reference]
6. “He (Mullá Husayn) arrived first at Miyamay where he rejoined thirty Bábís whose chief, Mírzá Zaynu’l-Ábidín, pupil of the late Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsá’í, was an elderly, pious and respected gentleman. His zeal was so intense that he brought with him his son-in-law, a young man of eighteen years, who had been married to his daughter only a few days. ‘Come,’ he said to him, ‘Come with me on my last journey. Come, because I must be a true father to you and make you partake of the joy of salvation!’

“They departed therefore, and it was on foot that the aged man desired to travel the road which was to lead him to martyrdom.” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” p. 290.)   [ Back To Reference]

7. August 31-September 29, 1848 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
8. Muhammad Sháh died on the eve of the sixth of Shavval (September 4, 1848 A.D.). “There was an interregnum of about two months. A provisional government was formed comprising four administrators under the presidency of the widow of the deceased Sháh. Finally after much hesitation, the lawful heir, the young Prince Násiri’d-Dín Mírzá, governor of Ádhirbayján was permitted to ascend the throne.” (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 367.)   [ Back To Reference]
9. “The minister [Mírzá Taqí Khán] with the utmost arbitrariness, without receiving any instructions or asking permission, sent forth commands in all directions to punish and chastise the Bábí’s. Governors and magistrates sought a pretext for amassing wealth, and officials a means of acquiring profits, celebrated doctors from the summits of their pulpits incited men to make a general onslaught; the powers of the religious and the civil law linked hands and strove to eradicate and destroy this people. Now this people had not yet acquired such knowledge as was right and needful of the fundamental principles and hidden doctrines of the Báb’s teachings, and did not recognise their duties. Their conceptions and ideas were after the former fashion, and their conduct and behaviour in correspondence with ancient usage The way of approach to the Báb was, moreover, closed, and the flame of trouble visibly blazing on every side. At the decree of the most celebrated of the doctors, the government, and indeed the common people, had, with irresistible power, inaugurated rapine and plunder on all sides, and were engaged in punishing and torturing, killing and despoiling, in order that they might quench this fire and wither these poor souls. In towns where these were but a limited number all of them with bound hands became food for the sword, while in cities where they were numerous they arose in self-defence in accordance with their former beliefs, since it was impossible for them to make enquiry as to their duty, and all doors were closed.” (“Traveller’s Narrative,” pp. 34–5.)   [ Back To Reference]
10. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
11. “The bullet struck Siyyid Ridá full in the chest and killed him instantly. He was a man of pure and simple ways, of deep and sincere convictions. Out of respect for his master he always walked alongside of his horse ready to meet his every need.” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” p. 294.)   [ Back To Reference]
12. No one is to be slain for unbelief, for the slaying of a soul is outside the religion of God; … and if anyone commands it, he is not and has not been of the Bayán, and no sin can be greater for him than this.” (“The Bayán.” See Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Oct. 1889, art. 12, pp. 927–8.)   [ Back To Reference]
13. “But the pain and the anger redoubled the strength of Mullá Husayn who with one single blow of his weapon cut in two the gun, the man and the tree.” (Mírzá Jání adds that the Bushrú’i used his left hand on this occasion. The Mussulmans themselves do not question the authenticity of this anecdote.) (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” p. 295 and note 215.) Then Jináb-i-Babu’l-Báb turned himself about, saying: ‘Now have they made it our duty to protect ourselves’; grasped the hilt of his sword, and, acquiescing in that which the providence of God had ordained, began to defend himself. Notwithstanding his slender and fragile frame and trembling hand, such were his valour and prowess on that day that whosoever had eyes to discern the truth could clearly see that such strength and courage could only be from God, being beyond human capacity…. Then I saw Mullá Husayn unsheathe his sword and raise his face towards heaven, and heard him exclaim: ‘O God I hare completed the proof to this host, but it availeth not.’ Then he began to attack us on the right and on the left I swear by God that on that day he wielded the sword in such wise as transcends the power of man. Only the horsemen of Mázindarán held their ground and refused to flee. And when Mullá Husayn was well warmed to the fray, he overtook a fugitive soldier. The soldier sheltered himself behind a tree, and further strove to shield himself with his musket. Mullá Husayn dealt him such a blow with his sword that he clave him and the tree and the musket into six pieces.” (The “Taríkh-i-Jadíd,” pp 49, 107–8.)   [ Back To Reference]
14. 1848–9 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
15. Mírzá Taqí Khán, I’timádu’d-Dawlih, Grand Vazír and successor to Hájí Mírzá Aqásí. The following reference is made to him in “A Traveller’s Narrative” (pp. 32–3): “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 wilfulness and sole possession. The 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 absolutism in (the conduct of) affairs: on his own decisive resolution, without seeking permission from the Royal Presence or taking counsel with prudent statesmen, he issued orders to persecute the Bábís, imagining that by overweening force he could eradicate and suppress matters of this nature, and that harshness would bear good fruit; whereas (in fact) to interfere with matters of conscience is simply to give them greater currency and strength; the more you strive to extinguish, the more will the name be kindled, more specially in matters of faith and religion, which spread and acquire influence so soon as blood is shed, and strongly affect men’s hearts.”   [ Back To Reference]
16. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
17. Qur’án, 9:52.   [ Back To Reference]
18. “‘The Bábu’l-Báb,’ says our author, ‘wishing to fulfill a religious duty and at the same time to give an example of the firm conviction of the believers, of their contempt for life, and to show the world the impiety and irreligion of the so called Mussulmans, commanded one of his followers to ascend the terrace and intone the adhán.’” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” pp. 295–6.) “It was at Marand,” writes Lady Sheil, “that I first heard the adhán, or call of the Muslims to prayer, so solemn and impressive, specially when well chanted, for it is in fact a chant…. He turned towards Mecca, and placing his open hands to his head, proclaimed with a loud sonorous voice, ‘Alláh-u-Akbar,’ which he repeated four times; then ‘Ashhad-u-an-la-ilah-a-illa’llah’ (I bear witness there is no God but God), twice; then ‘Ashhad-u-inna-Muhammadan-Rasu’llah’—(I bear witness that Muhammad is the Prophet of God), twice; then ‘I bear witness that ‘Alí, the Commander of the Faithful, is the friend of God.’… The single toll in the knell for transporting the dead to their last earthly abode arouses, perhaps from association, ideas of profound solemnity; so too does the trumpet echoing through the camp when it ushers the dragoon to his grave; but above both, in solemn awe, is the keening as it sweeps afar over the dales and hills of Munster, announcing that a Gael has been gathered to his fathers. The adhán excites a different impression. It raises in the mind a combination of feelings, of dignity, solemnity, and devotion, compared with which the din of bells becomes insignificant. It is an imposing thing to hear in the dead of the night the first sounds of the mu’adhdhín proclaiming ‘Alláh-u-Akbar—Mighty is the Lord—I bear witness there is no God but God!’ St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s together can produce nothing equal to it.” (“Glimpses of Life and Manners in Persia,” pp. 84, 85.)   [ Back To Reference]
19. “Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’ wishing to have done at any cost, gathered together as many people as he could and again began the attack in front of the caravansary. The struggle had been waging from five to six days when Abbás-Qulí Khán Sardár-i-Larijání appeared. In the meantime, and since the outbreak of the conflict, the ‘Ulamás of Barfurúsh exasperated by the numerous conversions which Quddús had been able to make in the city (three hundred in a week, the Muhammadan historians admit reluctantly), referred the case to the governor of the province, Prince Khánlan Mírzá. He, however, paid no attention to their grievances, having many other preoccupations.

“The death of Muhammad Sháh worried him much more than the wrangling of the Mullás and he made ready to go to Tihrán to pay homage to the new king, whose favor he hoped to win.

“Having failed in this attempt, under the pressure of events, the ‘Ulamás wrote a very urgent letter to the military chief of the province, Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání. He however, thinking it unnecessary to trouble himself, sent Muhammad Bik, Yávar (captain), at the head of three hundred men, to restore order. Thus it was that the Muhammadans began to attack the caravansary. The struggle went on, but if ten Bábís were killed, an infinitely larger number of aggressors bit the dust. As things continued to drag along, Abbás-Qulí Khán felt he should come himself in order to size up the situation.” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” pp. 296–297.)   [ Back To Reference]

20. Gobineau describes him in the following terms: “The Turkish and Persian nomads pass their lives in hunting, often also in fighting and above all in talking of the hunt and of war. They are brave but not always and they are well described by Branttome who, in his war experience had often encountered that type of bravery which he called ‘one day courage.’ But this is what they are in a very regular and consistent manner, great talkers, great wreckers of towns, great assassins of heroes, great exterminators of multitudes, in a word, naive, very outspoken in their sentiments, very violent in the expression of anything which arouses them and extremely amusing. Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání although well born, was a perfect type of nomad.” (Comte de Gobineau’s “Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l’Asie Centrale,” p. 171.)   [ Back To Reference]
21. A notorious scoundrel who often rebelled against the government.   [ Back To Reference]
22. October 10, 1848 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
23. Qur’án, 17:7.   [ Back To Reference]
24. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
25. According to “A Traveller’s Narrative” (p. 36), it was Mírzá Lutf-‘Alí, the secretary who drew his dagger and stabbed Khusraw.   [ Back To Reference]
26. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
27. “Then turning to his companions he said: ‘During these few days of life which remain to us, let us beware not to be divided and estranged by perishable riches. Let all this be held in common and let everyone share in its benefits.’ The Bábís agreed with joy and it is this marvellous spirit of self-sacrifice and this complete self-abnegation which made their enemies say that they advocated collective ownership in earthly goods and even women!” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb,” p. 299.)   [ Back To Reference]
28. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
29. Shrine of Shaykh Ahmad-ibn-i-Ábí-Tálib-i-Tabarsí, situated about fourteen miles S.E. of Barfurúsh. Professor Browne, of Cambridge University, visited the spot on September 26, 1888, and saw the name of the buried saint inscribed on a tablet with the form of words used for his “visitation,” the tablet hanging suspended from the railings surrounding the tomb. “It consists at present,” he writes, “of a flat, grassy enclosure surrounded by a hedge and containing, besides the buildings of the shrine and another building at the gateway (opposite to which, but outside the enclosure, stands the house of the mutávallí, or custodian of the shrine), nothing but two or three orange trees and a few rude graves covered with flat stones, the last resting places, perhaps, of some of the Bábí defenders. The building at the gateway is two storeys high, is traversed by the passage giving access to the enclosure, and is roofed with tiles. The buildings of the shrine, which stand at the farther end of the enclosure, are rather more elaborate. Their greatest length (about 20 paces) lies east and west; their breadth is about ten paces; and, besides the covered portico at the entrance they contain two rooms scantily lighted by wooden gratings over the doors. The tomb of the Shaykh, from whom the place takes its name, stands surrounded by wooden railings in the centre of the inner room, to which access is obtained either by a door communicating with the outer chamber, or by a door opening externally into the enclosure.” (For plans and sketches, see the author’s translation of the “Taríkh-i-Jadíd.”) (E. G. Browne’s “A Year Amongst the Persians,” p. 565.)   [ Back To Reference]
30. October 12, 1848 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
31. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
32. July 3-August 1, 1848 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
33. April 24-May 23, 1849 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
34. Literally “Remnant of God.”   [ Back To Reference]
35. Qur’án, 11:85.   [ Back To Reference]
36. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
37. November 27, 1848 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
38. Reference to the year 1280 A.H. (1863–4 A.D.), in which Bahá’u’lláh declared His Mission in Baghdád.   [ Back To Reference]
39. The assembling of three hundred and thirteen chosen supporters of the imám in Talíqán of Khurásán is one of the signs that must needs herald the advent of the promised Qá’im. (E. G. Browne’s “A History of Persian Literature in Modern Times” [A.D. 1500–1924], p. 399.)   [ Back To Reference]
40. Amongst them also was Ridá Khán, the son of Muhammad Khán the Turkaman, Master of the Horse to his late Majesty Muhammad Sháh. And he was a youth graceful of form, comely of face, endowed with all manner of talents and virtues, dignified, temperate gentle, generous, courageous, and manly. For the love and service of His Supreme Holiness he forsook both his post and his salary, and shut his eyes alike to rank and name, fame and shame, reproaches of friends and revilings of foes. At the first step he left behind him dignity, wealth, position, and all the power and consideration which he enjoyed, spent large sums of money (four or five thousand túmáns at least) in the Cause, and repeatedly showed his readiness freely to lay down his life. One of these occasions was when His Supreme Holiness arrived at the village of Khánliq near Tihrán, and, to try the fidelity of His followers, said: ‘Were there but a few horsemen who would deliver Me from the bonds of the froward and their devices, it were not amiss.’ On hearing these words, several tried and expert horsemen, fully equipped and armed, at once prepared to set out, and, pronouncing all that they had, hastily conveyed themselves before His Holiness. Amongst these were Mírzá Qurbán-‘Alí, of Astaribád, and Ridá Khán. When they were come before His Holiness, He smiled and said, “The mountain of Ádhirbayján has also a claim on Me,’ and bade them turn back. After his return, Ridá Khán devoted himself to the service of the friends of God, and his house was often the meeting place of the believers, amongst whom both Jináb-i-Quddús and Jináb-i-Babu’l-Báb were for a while his honoured guests. Indeed, he neither spared himself nor fell short in the service of any of this circle, but, notwithstanding his high position, strove with heart md soul to further the object of God’s servants. When, for instance, Jináb-i-Quddús first began to preach the doctrine in Mázindarán, and the Sa’ídu’l-‘Ulamá’, being informed of this, made strenuous efforts to do him injury, Ridá Khán at once hastened to Mázindarán, and, whenever Jináb-i-Quddús went forth from his house, used, in spite of his high position and the respect to which he was accustomed, to walk on foot before him with his drawn sword over his shoulder; seeing which, the malignants feared to take any liberty…. For some while, Ridá Khán remained after this fashion in Mázindarán, until he accompanied Jináb-i-Quddús to Mashhad. On his return thence, he was present at the troubles at Badasht, where he performed the most valuable services, and was entrusted with the most important and delicate commissions. After the meeting at Badasht was dispersed, he fell ill, and, in company with Mírzá Sulaymán-Qulí of Núr (a son of the late Shatír-báshí, also conspicuous for his virtues, learning, and devotion), came to Tihrán. Ridá Khán’s illness lasted for some while, and on his recovery the siege of the castle of Tabarsí had already waxed grievous. He at once determined to go to the assistance of the garrison. Being, however, a man of mark and well known, he could not leave the capital without giving some plausible reason. He therefore pretended to repent his former course of action, and begged that he might be sent to take part in the war in Mázindarán, and thus make amends for the past. The king granted his request, and he was appointed to accompany the force proceeding under Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá against the castle. During the march thither he was continually saying to the prince, ‘I will do this,’ and ‘I will do that’, so that the prince came toservices for till the day when battle was inevitable and peace no longer possible, he was ever foremost in the army and most active in ordering its affairs. But on the first day of battle he began to gallop his horse and practise other martial exercises, until, without having aroused suspicion, he suddenly gave it free rein and effected a junction with the Brethren of Purity. On arriving in their midst, he kissed the knee of Jináb-i-Quddús and prostrated himself before him in thankfulness. Then he once more returned to the battle-field, and began to revile and curse the prince, saying: ‘Who is man enough to trample underfoot the pomp and circumstance of the world, free himself from the bonds of carnal lusts, and join himself, as I have done, to the saints of God? I, for my part, shall be satisfied with my head only when it falls stained with dust and blood in this plain.’ Then, like a ravening lion, he rushed upon them with naked brand, and quitted himself so manfully that all the royalist officers were astonished, saying: ‘Such valour must have been newly granted him from on high, or else a new spirit hath been breathed into his frame.’ For it happened more than once that he cut down a gunner as he was in the very act of firing his gun, while so many of the chief officers of the royalist army fell by his hand that the prince and the other commanding officers desired more eagerly to revenge themselves on him than on any other of the Bábís. Therefore, on the eve of the day appointed for Jináb-i-Quddús to surrender himself at the royalist camp, Ridá Khán, knowing that because of the fierce hatred which they bore him they would slay him with the most cruelan old and faithful friend and comrade. After the massacre of the other Bábís, search was made for Ridá Khán, and he was at length discovered. The officer who had sheltered him proposed to ransom him for the sum of two thousand túmáns in cash, but his proposal rejected, and though he offered to increase the sum, and strove earnestly to save his friend, it was of no avail, for the prince, because of the exceeding hatred he bore Ridá Khán order him to be hewn in pieces.” (The “Taríkh-i-Jadíd,” pp. 96–101.)   [ Back To Reference]
41. “According to the descriptions which I have heard, the fortress erected by Mullá Husayn soon became a very strong building. Its walls made of large stones reached a height of ten meters. On this base, they raised a construction made of enormous tree trunks in the middle of which they arranged a number of loopholes; they then surrounded it entirely with a deep ditch. In fact it was a kind of great tower having stones for the foundation while the higher stories were of wood and provided with three rows of loopholes where they could place as many tufang-chis as they wished, or rather, as they had. They made openings for many doors and postern gates in order to facilitate entrance and exit.

“They dug wells, thus securing an abundance of water; underground passages were excavated in order to provide refuge in case of need; storehouses were built and filled with all sorts of provisions either bought, or perhaps taken in the neighboring villages. Finally, they manned the fortress with the most energetic Bábís, the most devoted, and the most dependable available among them.” (Comte de Gobineau’s “Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l’Asie Centrale,” p. 156.)   [ Back To Reference]

42. “Thus frantic about the maintenance of order, the Amír-Nizám disposed quickly of the Mázindarán question. When the leading men of this province came to Tihrán to pay their respects to the king, they were ordered, as they departed, to take necessary measures to put an end to the sedition of the Bábís. They promised to do their best and in fact, as soon as they returned, these chiefs began to gather their forces and to deliberate. They wrote to their relations to come and join them. Hájí Mustafá Khán called for his brother ‘Abdu’lláh, Abbás-Qulí Khán-i-Laríjání sent for Muhammad-Sultán and ‘Alí-Khán of Savád-Kúh. All of these worthies decided to attack the Bábís in their fortress before they, themselves, could assume the defensive. The royal officers, seeing the chiefs of the country so willing, summoned a grand council to which hastened the lords already mentioned and also Mírzá Áqá, Mustawfí of Mázindarán, superintendent of finances, the head of the ‘Ulamás and many other men of high standing.” (Ibid., pp. 160–161.)   [ Back To Reference]
43. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
44. “On his side, the superintendent of finances raised a troop amongst the Afgháns domiciled at Sarí and added to it several men from the Turkish tribes under his administration. ‘Alí-Ábád, the village so severely punished by the Bábís, which aspired to avenge itself, furnished what it could and was reinforced by a party of men from Qádí who, being in the neighborhood, were willing to enlist.” (Comte de Gobineau’s “Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l’Asie Centrale,” p. 161.)   [ Back To Reference]
45. December 1, 1848 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
46. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
47. “The Amír-Nizám grew violently angry at the news of what had happened. The description of the terrors aroused his indignation. Too far from the scene of action to appraise the wild enthusiasm of the rebels, the only conclusion he could reach was that the Bábíes should be done away with before their courage could be further stimulated by real victories. The Prince Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá, appointed lieutenant of the king in the threatened province, left with a grant of extraordinary powers. Instructions were given to draw up a list of the men who had died in the attack on the Bábís’ fortress and in the sacking of Ferra and pensions were promised to the survivors.

“Hájí Mustafá Khán, brother of ‘Abdu’lláh, received substantial tokens of the royal favor; in a word, all that was possible was done to restore the courage and confidence of the Mussulmans.” (Comte de Gobineau’s “Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l’Asie Centrale,” pp. 164–165.)   [ Back To Reference]

48. “We have left Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá running away from his burning home and wandering alone in the country, in the snow and the darkness. Toward dawn, he found himself in an unknown mountain pass, lost in a wild country, but in reality only a short distance away from the slaughter of battle. The wind brought to his ears the noise of the volleys of musketry.

“In this sad state, completely bewildered, he was met by a Mázindarání, mounted on a fairly good horse, who recognized him. This man dismounted, placed the Prince on his horse and offered to serve him as guide. He led him to a peasant’s hut, settled him in the barn (this is not considered a place to frown upon in Persia) and while the Prince slept and ate, the Mázindarání mounted his horse and, covering the country side, gave out the glad tidings that the Prince was safe and well. Thus he brought to him all his men, or at least a respectable number of them, one band after another.

“If Mihdí-Qulí Mírzá had been one of those proud spirits not easily broken by reverses, he would have considered his position only slightly altered by the mishaps of the previous evening; he could have believed that his men had been unfortunately surprised; then with the remainder of his forces he would have saved appearances and held the ground, for in fact, the Bábís had retreated and were out of sight. But the Sháhzádih, far from priding himself on such firmness, was a weak character and, when he saw himself so well guarded, he left the barn and hurried to the village of Qádí-Kalá whence he reached Sarí in great haste. This conduct strengthened in the whole province the impression caused by the defeat of Vaskas. Panic ensued, open towns believed themselves exposed to every danger and, in spite of the rigor of the season, one could see caravans of non-combatants in great distress, taking their wives and children to the desert of Damávand to save them from the miserable dangers which the cautious conduct of Sháhzádih seemed to foretell. When the Asiatics lose their heads they do so completely.” (Comte de Gobineau’s “Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l’Asie Centrale,” pp. 169–170.)   [ Back To Reference]

49. “In a few moments his army already in such confusion, was scattered by the three hundred men of Mullá Husayn! Was not this the sword of the Lord and of Gideon?” (Ibid., p. 167.)   [ Back To Reference]
50. According to Gobineau (p. 167), they were Sultán Husayn Mírzá, son of Fath-‘Alí Sháh, and Dáwúd Mírzá, son of Zillu’s-Sultán, uncle of the Sháh. A. L. M. Nicolas, in his “Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb” (p. 308), adds Mustawfí Mírzá ‘Abdu’l-Báqí.   [ Back To Reference]
51. See Glossary.   [ Back To Reference]
52. December 21, 1848 A.D.   [ Back To Reference]
53. O Shaykh! Things the like of which no eye hath seen have befallen this wronged one. Gladly and with the utmost resignation I have accepted to suffer, that thereby the souls of men may be enlightened and the Word of God be established. When we were imprisoned in the Land of Mím [Mázindarán], they one day delivered us into the hands of the ‘ulamá. That which ensued, thou canst well imagine!” (“The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,” p. 57.)   [ Back To Reference]
54. Literally “prayer-house.”   [ Back To Reference]
55. Literally “black pit,” the subterranean dungeon in which Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned.   [ Back To Reference]