A new version of the Bahá’í Reference Library is now available. This ‘old version’ of the Bahá’í Reference Library will be replaced at a later date.

The new version of the Bahá’i Reference Library can be accessed here »

The Promised Day Is Come

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 revised edition
  • Pages:
  • 124
Go to printed page GO
Pages 65-70

Divine Retribution on the Qájár Dynasty

The French Emperor had, it was reported, flung away Bahá’u’lláh’s Tablet, and directed his minister, as Bahá’u’lláh Himself asserts, to address to its Author an irreverent reply. The Grand Vizir of Abdu’l-’Aziz, it is reliably stated, blanched while reading the communication addressed to his Imperial master and his ministers, and made the following comment: “It is as if the king of kings were issuing his behest to his humblest vassal king, and regulating his conduct!” Queen Victoria, it is said, upon reading the Tablet revealed for her remarked: “If this is of God, it will endure; if not, it can do no harm.” It was reserved for Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh, however, to wreak, at the instigation of the divines, his vengeance on One Whom he could no longer personally chastise by arresting His messenger, a lad of about seventeen, by freighting him with chains, by torturing him on the rack, and finally slaying him.
To this despotic sovereign Bahá’u’lláh, Who denounced him as the “Prince of Oppressors,” and as one who would soon be made “an object-lesson for the world,” had written: “Look upon this Youth, O king, with the eyes of justice; judge thou, then, with truth concerning what hath befallen Him. Of a verity, God hath made thee His shadow amongst men, and the sign of His power unto all that dwell on earth.” And again: “O king! Wert thou to incline thine ears unto the shrill of the Pen of Glory and the cooing of the Dove of Eternity … thou wouldst attain unto a station from which thou wouldst behold in the world of being naught save the effulgence of the Adored One, and wouldst regard thy sovereignty as 66 the most contemptible of thy possessions, abandoning it to whosoever might desire it, and setting thy face toward the horizon aglow with the light of His countenance.” And again: “We fain would hope, however, that His Majesty the Sháh will himself examine these matters, and bring hope to the hearts. That which We have submitted to thee is indeed for thine highest good.”
This hope, however, was to remain unfulfilled. It was indeed shattered by a reign which had been inaugurated by the execution of the Báb, and the imprisonment of Bahá’u’lláh in the Síyáh-Chál of Ṭihrán, by a sovereign who had repeatedly instigated Bahá’u’lláh’s successive banishments, and by a dynasty that had been sullied by the slaughter of no less than twenty thousand of His followers. The Sháh’s dramatic assassination, the ignoble rule of the last sovereigns of the House of Qájár, and the extinction of that dynasty, were signal instances of the Divine retribution which these horrid atrocities had provoked.
The Qájárs, members of the alien Turkoman tribe, had, indeed, usurped the Persian throne. Áqá Muḥammad Khán, the eunuch Sháh and founder of the dynasty, was such an atrocious, avaricious, bloodthirsty tyrant that the memory of no Persian is so detested and universally execrated as his memory. The record of his reign and that of his immediate successors is one of vandalism, of internal warfare, of recalcitrant and rebellious chieftains, of brigandage, and medieval oppression, whilst the annals of the reigns of the later Qájárs are marked by the stagnation of the nation, the illiteracy of the people, the corruption and incompetence of the government, the scandalous intrigues of the court, the decadence of the princes, the irresponsibility and extravagance of the sovereign, and his abject subservience to a notoriously degraded clerical order.
The successor of Áqá Muḥammad Khán, the uxorious, philoprogenetive Fatḥ-‘Alí Sháh, the so-called “Darius of the Age,” was a vain, an arrogant, and unscrupulous miser, notorious for the enormous number of his wives and concubines, numbering above a thousand, his incalculable progeny, and the disasters which his rule brought upon his country. He it was who commanded that his vizir, to whom he owed his throne, be cast into a caldron of boiling oil. As to his successor, the bigoted Muḥammad Sháh, one of his earliest acts, definitely condemned by the pen of Bahá’u’lláh, was the order to strangle his first minister, the illustrious Qá’im-Maqám, immortalized by that same pen 67 as the “Prince of the City of Statesmanship and Literary Accomplishment,” and to have him replaced by that lowbred, consummate scoundrel, Ḥájí Mírzá Aqásí, who brought the country to the verge of bankruptcy and revolution. It was this same Sháh who refused to interview the Báb and imprisoned Him in Ádhirbayján, and who, at the age of forty, was afflicted by a complication of maladies to which he succumbed, hastening the doom forecast in these words of the Qayyúm-i-Asmá: “I swear by God, O Sháh! If thou showest enmity unto Him Who is His Remembrance, God will, on the Day of Resurrection, condemn thee, before the kings, unto hellfire, and thou shalt not, in very truth, find on that day any helper except God, the Exalted.”
Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh, a selfish, capricious, imperious monarch, succeeded to the throne, and, for half a century, was destined to remain the sole arbiter of the fortunes of his hapless country. A disastrous obscurantism, a chaotic administration in the provinces, the disorganization of the finances of the realm, the intrigues, the vindictiveness, and profligacy of the pampered and greedy courtiers, who buzzed and swarmed round his throne, his own despotism which, but for the restraining fear of European public opinion and the desire to be thought well of in the capitals of the West, would have been more cruel and savage, were the distinguishing features of the bloody reign of one who styled himself “Footpath of Heaven,” and “Asylum of the Universe.” A triple darkness of chaos, bankruptcy and oppression enveloped the country. His own assassination was the first portent of the revolution which was to restrict the prerogatives of his son and successor, depose the last two monarchs of the House of Qájár, and extinguish their dynasty. On the eve of his jubilee, which was to inaugurate a new era, and the celebration of which had been elaborately prepared, he fell, in the shrine of Sháh Abdu’l-’Azim, a victim to an assassin’s pistol, his dead body driven back to his capitol, propped up in the royal carriage in front of his Grand Vizir, in order to defer the news of his murder.
“It was whispered,” writes an eyewitness of both the ceremony and the assassination, “that the day of the Sháh’s celebration was to be the greatest in the history of Persia…. Prisoners were to be released without condition, and a general amnesty was to be proclaimed; peasants were promised exemption from taxes for at least two years. …the poor were to be fed for months. Ministers and officials were already intriguing for honors and pension from the Sháh. Shrines and sacred places were to 68 open their gates to all wayfarers and pilgrims, and the siyyids and mullás were taking cough medicine to clear their throats to sing and chant the praises of the Sháh in all the pulpits. The mosques were swept and prepared for general meetings and public prayers in behalf of the Sovereign…. Sacred fountains were enlarged to hold more holy water, and the rightful authorities had foreseen that many miracles might take place on the day of the jubilee, with the aid of these fountains…. The Sháh had declared … that he would renounce his prerogatives as despot, and proclaim himself ‘The Majestic Father of all the Persians.’ The city authority was to relax its vigilant watch. No record was to be kept of the strangers who flocked to the caravanserais, and the population was to be left free to wander the streets during the whole night.” Even the great mujtahids had, according to what had been reported to that same eyewitness, “decided, for the time being, to discontinue persecuting the Bábís and other infidels.”
Thus fell the one whose reign will remain forever associated with the most heinous crime in history—the martyrdom of that One Whom the Supreme Manifestation of God proclaimed to be the “Point round Whom the realities of the Prophets and Messengers revolve.” In a Tablet in which the pen of Bahá’u’lláh condemns him, we read: “Among them [kings of the earth] is the King of Persia, who suspended Him Who is the Temple of the Cause [the Báb] in the air, and put Him to death with such cruelty that all created things, and the inmates of Paradise, and the Concourse on high wept for Him. He slew, moreover, some of Our kindred, and plundered Our property, and made Our family captives in the hands of the oppressors. Once and again he imprisoned Me. By God, the True One! None can reckon the things which befell Me in prison, save God, the Reckoner, the Omniscient, the Almighty. Subsequently he banished Me and My family from My country, whereupon We arrived in ‘Iráq in evident sorrow. We tarried there until the time when the King of Rúm [Sulṭán of Turkey] arose against Us, and summoned Us unto the seat of his sovereignty. When We reached it there flowed over Us that whereat the King of Persia rejoiced. Later We entered this Prison, wherein the hands of Our loved ones were torn from the hem of Our robe. In such a manner hath he dealt with Us!”
The days of the Qájár dynasty were now numbered. The torpor of the national consciousness had vanished. The reign of Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh’s successor, Muzaffari’d-Dín Sháh, a weak and timid creature, extravagant 69 and lavish to his courtiers, led the country down the broad road to ruin. The movement in favor of a constitution, limiting the sovereign’s prerogatives, gathered force, and culminated in the signature of the constitution by the dying Sháh, who expired a few days later. Muḥammad-‘Alí Sháh, a despot of the worst type, unprincipled and avaricious, succeeded to the throne. Hostile to the constitution, he, by his summary action, involving the bombardment of the Baháristán, where the Assembly met, precipitated a revolution which led to his deposition by the nationalists. Accepting, after much bargaining, a large pension, he ignominiously withdrew to Russia. The boy-king, Aḥmad Sháh, who succeeded him, was a mere cipher and careless of his duties. The crying needs of his country continued to be ignored. Increasing anarchy, the impotence of the central government, the state of the national finances, the progressive deterioration of the general condition of the country, practically abandoned by a sovereign who preferred the gaieties and frivolities of society life in the European capitals to the discharge of the stern and urgent responsibilities which the plight of his nation demanded, sounded the death knell of a dynasty which, it was generally felt, had forfeited the crown. Whilst abroad, on one of his periodic visits, Parliament deposed him, and proclaimed the extinction of his dynasty, which had occupied the throne of Persia for a hundred and thirty years, whose rulers proudly claimed no less a descent than from Japhet, son of Noah, and whose successive monarchs, with only one exception, were either assassinated, deposed, or struck down by mortal disease.
Their myriad progeny, a veritable “beehive of princelings,” a “race of royal drones,” were both a disgrace and a menace to their countrymen. Now, however, these luckless descendants of a fallen house, shorn of all power, and some of them reduced even to beggary, proclaim, in their distress, the consequences of the abominations which their progenitors have perpetrated. Swelling the ranks of the ill-fated scions of the House of Uthmán, and of the rulers of the Romanov, the Hohenzollern, the Hapsburg, and the Napoleonic dynasties, they roam the face of the earth, scarcely aware of the character of those forces which have operated such tragic revolutions in their lives, and so powerfully contributed to their present plight.
Already grandsons of both Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh and of Sulṭán Abdu’l-’Aziz have, in their powerlessness and destitution, turned to the 70 World Center of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and sought respectively political aid and pecuniary assistance. In the case of the former, the request was promptly and firmly refused, whilst in the case of the latter it was unhesitatingly offered.