Tablet to Abu'l-Hasan Mírzá
by Abdu'l-Bahátranslated by Hasan M. Balyuzi.
published in Eminent Bahá'ís in the Time of Bahá'u'lláh, page 155
George Ronald, 1985
originally written as "Lawh-i-Abu'l-Hasan Mírzá".
The Lamp of the Assemblage of the high-minded, the Prince of the enlightened, Shaykhu’r-Ra’ís: May he be a ray of God, and a dazzling moon!
 ’Abu’l-Hasan Mírzá, known as Shaykhu’r-Ra’ís (1847 - 1917). He was a grandson of Fath-‘Alí-Sháh (reigned 1797-1834). His father, Muhammad-Taqí Mírzá, was one of the princes who rebelled against Muhammad Sháh (reigned 1834-1848), was imprisoned at Ardibíl in Ádharbáyján, but escaped to live out his life relatively undisturbed in Tabríz. ’Abu’l-Hasan’s mother, Khurshíd Bagum, taught him the Bábí Faith when he was a child. When he was young, he was sickly, losing the use of one eye due to smallpox. He escaped a cholera epidemic in Tabríz, and was soon sent for tutoring in the capital with his father. He studied logic and Arabic syntax under Mullá ’Alí-i-Núrí, and advanced rapidly. His father died when ’Abu’l-Hasan was about 14, and his brothers, partly because of jealously of his gifts, forced him into military training. At the military school, he was able to continue his literary studies, determined to fulfill his father’s wish that he become a cleric. After two years, he left the military school and moved to Mashhad. By this time, he had demonstrated signs of a great poetical and literary gift, and, at 17, he was inducted into the clerical ranks by Hájí Qavámu’l-Mulk. He entered the theological academy and studied Arabic, mathematics, philosophy and theology under some of the most enlightened men of the time. From Mashhad, he went on to further studies in Najaf and Karbilá in ’Iráq, then served as apprentice under Hájí Mírzá-Muhammad-Hasan, the greatest Shí’ih divine at that time, for two years. After receiving the power of issuing religious decrees and judgements from his master and making his pilgrimage to Mecca, he returned to Mashhad to preach. He quickly became beloved for his speeches at the pulpit. He was then forced to leave Mashhad for Qúchán, due to the hatred of the Ásafu’d-Dawlih of Shíráz. After one year in Qúchán, he briefly was in ‘Ishqábád, before again journeying to Mecca and Medina. On his returned, he again gained great renown in Baghdád, but was encouraged by Shaykh Muhsin Khán, the Persian ambassador, to return to Persia. The favours presented to him by Nasiri‘d-Din Sháh’s family aroused jealousy in certain circles and he was banished Kalát-i-Nádiri. When freed, he collected his family in Mashhad and moved them back to ‘Ishqábád. After touring Transoxania, and receiving gifts and high praises from Sultán ‘Abdu’l-A’ziz, he finally journeyed to Beirut, Jerusalem, and finally to ’Akká, where he attained the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’. The Master commanded Shaykhu’r-Ra’ís to teach the Faith, but with great caution. This he did, proceeding to Burma and India, then returning to Shíráz in 1896. He again ascended the pulpit and great crowds flocked to listen to his lectures. Opposition from the ’ulamá again forced him to flee, this time to Isfahán. In that city, he resumed preaching, only to arouse the animosity of no less a figure than Shaykh Muhammad Taqíy-i-Najafí, stigmatized by Bahá’u’lláh as the ‘Son of the Wolf’. However, due to his position, Shaykhu’r-Ra’ís could not be harmed. He soon left Isfahán for Tihrán, where, in a few years, against the wishes of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’, he became a leading voice in favour of a constitution. In the coup d-état that followed, the Shaykhu’r-Ra’ís was imprisoned for a time, but pardoned by the government. The Master never reproached him for his error. ’Abu’l-Hasan Mírzá soon retired from public life, ending his days in Ishqábád, where he passed away in 1336 A.H. (between October 17th 1917 to October 6th, 1918. See H. M. Balyuzí. Eminent Bahá’ís in the Time of Bahá’u’lláh, (Oxford, George Ronald, 1985) chap. 12. (A photograph of ‘Abu’l-Hasan Mírzá appears on page 149.) Taherzadeh records that ’Abu’l-Hasan Mírzá was one of the first men sent by Muhammad-Taqí Mírzá to entreat ‘Aba Badí (the father of Badí, the bearer of the Tablet to the Sháh) to recant his faith. (Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, Vol. 2, p. 132) (MW’s note).