Release the Sun
THE PROMISE OF THE MESSIAH
This is the story of a modern search for the Holy Grail, the cup of everlasting life. It began in the land from which the three Kings came to Bethlehem guided by a bright star. It was now the nineteenth century, and there was another sign in the heavens, a great fiery comet. Many were awed, many were frightened, many were cheered, for both the East and the West were caught up in a millennial zeal.[F1]* In Persia, home of the "three wise men," the excitement over the coming of a Messiah was greater than in any other land. In America and Europe, scholars wrote and spoke of the expected appearance of the promised Christ, but in Persia many people were actively searching for Him. They believed the Promised One to be already in their midst. Among these devout searchers was Shaykh Ahmad, a kindly, gentle man. At the age of forty, he left his home and kindred in one of the islands to the south of the Persian Gulf, and set out to unravel the mystery of the coming Messenger. An inner voice kept urging him on. Eagerly, he devoured everything written on the subject. He questioned the great religious and scientific authorities until he felt that at last he knew the truth. * See Appendix, Note One.
He was now filled with an eagerness to unburden his soul. He began to search for someone with whom he could share his great secret: his certainty of the time and place for the appearance of God's new Messenger, Who would fulfill all the promises given in the sacred Books. Shaykh Ahmad made his way on foot to the city of Shiraz in southern Persia. Often and passionately in his public talks he extolled that city. Such was the praise he lavished upon Shiraz that his hearers, who were only too familiar with its mediocrity, were astonished at the tone of his language. "Wonder not," Shaykh Ahmad told them. "Before long the secret of my words will be made clear to you. A number of you will live to behold the glory of a day which all the prophets of old have foretold and have yearned to witness. There was no one to whom Shaykh Ahmad was able to pour out his knowledge in its entirety. He feared what the people might do to the One whose coming had set his heart on fire. He knew he must wait patiently until a kindred soul appeared with whom he could share his secret. During those days, a young man named Siyyid Kazim was already on his way to visit Shaykh Ahmad. He had heard of this great man, and thought perhaps Shaykh Ahmad himself might be the Promised One. Siyyid Kazim lived near a famous tomb near Ardabil. One night in a dream he was told to arise and put himself under the spiritual guidance of Shaykh Ahmad whom he would find residing at Yazd.[F2] Siyyid Kazim began his journey to Yazd at once. When he reached his destination, Shaykh Ahmad greeted him affectionately. "I welcome you, O my friend! How long and how eagerly I have awaited your coming." To him, Shaykh Ahmad confided all that he knew. He urged Siyyid Kazim to kindle in every receptive heart the fire that burned so brightly in his own. "You have no time to lose," Shaykh Ahmad warned him. "Every fleeting hour should be fully and wisely used. Strive night and day to remove the veils of prejudice and orthodoxy that have blinded the eyes of men. For verily I say, the hour is drawing nigh." By devoting his special attention to his followers, Shaykh Ahmad hoped to enable them to become active supporters of the Cause of the Promised One when he appeared.
Shaykh Ahmad knew that the hour of his own death was approaching, so he called his followers together. "After me," he said, seek for the truth through Siyyid Kazim. He alone understands my objective."[F3] Shaykh Ahmad died soon after, and Siyyid Kazim became the leader of his followers. Siyyid Kazim also found that there was no one sincere enough or worthy enough to hear all that Shaykh Ahmad had taught him. His followers were still tied to their homes, their families, their money, their businesses, their former beliefs. "If the coming Promised One will exalt us and preserve all we hold dear," they told Siyyid Kazim, "then we are ready, nay eager, to accept. But, if His coming means forsaking all we cherish and perhaps even facing death, then our ears are deaf to the sweet music." At long last Siyyid Kazim found one young man in whom he could place the greatest trust. The youth's name was Mulla Husayn. Such was the love and honor that Siyyid Kazim bestowed upon Mulla Husayn that some among his companions suspected that Mulla Husayn might be the Promised One to whom their master was unceasingly referring, the One whom he so often declared to be even now living in their midst unrecognized by them all. "You behold Him with your own eyes," Siyyid Kazim told them, "and yet recognize him not!" Mulla Husayn returned Siyyid Kazim's great love and respect. At times he himself secretly wondered whether or not Siyyid Kazim might be the One they awaited. Mulla Husayn, however, had a standard by which he planned to test whoever made such a stupendous claim. He would ask that a commentary be written upon the story of Joseph, a certain chapter in the sacred scripture, and written in a style and language entirely different from the prevailing standards. One day Mulla Husayn, in private, asked Siyyid Kazim to write such a commentary. Siyyid Kazim refused. "This verily is beyond me," he said. "However, He that great One who comes after me will, unasked, reveal it for you. That commentary will constitute one of the clearest evidences of His truth." Mulla Husayn asked Siyyid Kazim why this chapter was called the "best of stories" in their holy Book. Siyyid Kazim replied, "It
is not the proper occasion for explaining the reason." His words hinted that the future would unveil this truth.[F4] Another among his followers felt that Siyyid Kazim, in spite of his denials, was the One foretold. He went so far as to declare this publicly. Siyyid Kazim was most displeased. He would have cast the speaker out of the company of his chosen followers had he not begged for forgiveness. "My knowledge is but a drop compared to the immensity of His knowledge," Siyyid Kazim asserted. "My attainments are but a speck of dust in the face of the wonders of His power."[F5] When Siyyid Kazim made this forthright denial, still another of his followers was very distressed. For he, too, had believed Siyyid Kazim to be the great announced Figure. He prayed earnestly to God either to confirm the feeling in his heart or to deliver him from such a fancy. The manner in which he was assisted is recorded in his own words. "One day at the hour of dawn, we went to the house of Siyyid Kazim. He was fully dressed in his best attire and was about to leave. He asked me to accompany him. "He said, `A highly esteemed and distinguished person has arrived. I feel it necessary that we both should visit him.' "The sun had just appeared as we reached our destination. In the doorway stood a youth. His face revealed an expression of humility and kindliness which I can never describe. He quietly approached us, extended his arms toward Siyyid Kazim and lovingly embraced him. His friendliness contrasted strongly with the profound reverence which Siyyid Kazim showed him. "He led us to an upper chamber. A silver cup had been placed in the center of the room. After we were seated, our host filled the cup and handed it to Siyyid Kazim. He spoke a verse from our holy Book: `A drink of pure beverage shall their Lord give them.' "How great was my amazement when I saw my teacher [Siyyid Kazim] quaff without the least hesitation, that holy draught from a silver cup, the use of which is forbidden to the faithful. "Three days later, I saw that same young man arrive and take his seat amidst assembled followers of Siyyid Kazim. He sat close to the doorway, and with great modesty and dignity of bearing he listened to the discourse of Siyyid Kazim. "As soon as Siyyid Kazim saw him, he immediately discontinued
speaking. One of his followers begged him to resume his talk about the coming of the Promised One. "`What more shall I say?' replied Siyyid Kazim as he turned his face toward the young man. `Lo, the truth is more manifest than the ray of light that has fallen on that lap.' "I immediately observed that the ray of sunlight to which Siyyid Kazim referred had fallen upon the lap of that same youth we had so recently visited. "One of Siyyid Kazim's followers asked, `Why is it that you neither reveal His name nor identify His person? Why?' Siyyid Kazim replied that if he were to divulge His name, both the Beloved of God and he himself would be put to death instantly. "I saw Siyyid Kazim actually point out with his finger the ray of light that had fallen on that lap, and yet none of those who were present seemed to apprehend its meaning. I was convinced that some mystery inscrutable to us all lay concealed in that strange and attractive youth. "I often felt the urge to seek his presence, but every time I ventured an approach, a force I could neither explain nor resist detained me. My inquiries elicited the information that he was a resident of Shiraz and a merchant by profession. He had set my heart aflame, and the memory of him haunted me." Siyyid Kazim became increasingly aware of the approach of the hour at which the Promised One was to be revealed. There is conclusive evidence that he referred time and again to this event. He was fond of saying: "I see him as the rising sun." He realized how thick the veils were that prevented even his own followers from understanding the truth. He kept warning them as John the Baptist had warned those who awaited Christ: "The kingdom of God is at hand." With care and wisdom he gradually began to remove all the barriers that might stand in the way of their full recognition of that hidden Treasure when it appeared. "Beware, lest after my departure the world's fleeting vanities beguile you," he cautioned them. "Renounce all comfort, all earthly possessions and kindred, in your quest of Him. Detach yourselves from all earthly things and humbly beseech God to guide you. Never relax in your determination to seek and find Him. Be firm until the day He will choose you as His companions. Well is it with every one of you who will drink the cup of martyrdom in His path." Siyyid Kazim promised some of his followers that they would
not only have the joy of seeing the coming Messenger of God face to face, they would see His Successor as well. "For soon after the first trumpet blast, there shall be sounded yet another call, and all things shall be quickened and revived." Repeatedly Siyyid Kazim told them that they would see not one, but two Messengers of God, the twin Revelations promised in all the holy Books for these "last days." These two successive Messengers would be the fulfillment of the prophesy of the "second and third woe" mentioned in the Book of Revelation of St. John, which prophesies that the "third woe" would quickly follow the "second woe."[F6] They would also be the fulfillment of the two trumpet blasts mentioned in the Qur'an which in the "last days" would quickly follow each other.[F7] Siyyid Kazim assured his followers that after the promised Dawn, the promised Sun would be made manifest. "For when the star of the Former has set," he said, "the Sun of the Latter will rise and illuminate the whole world." His followers, Siyyid Kazim pointed out, were living in the very day of the prophesy which was fulfilled by these words. "In the year 1260  the earth shall be illumined by His light--. . If thou livest until the year 1270  thou shalt witness how the nations, the rulers, the peoples, and the Faith of God shall all have been renewed."[F8]* In the last year of his life, Siyyid Kazim left the city of Karbila to visit the holy Shrines nearby. He stopped at a prayer-house beside the highway to offer his noonday devotions. He was standing beneath the shade of a palm, when suddenly an Arab appeared. He approached Siyyid Kazim and spoke to him. "Three days ago I was shepherding my flock in an adjoining pasture," he told Siyyid Kazim. "All of a sudden sleep overtook me. The Prophet appeared to me in my sleep. He said to me: `Give ear to my words, O shepherd! Stay within the precincts of this prayer-house. In three days a man, Siyyid Kazim by name, will arrive accompanied by his friends. Tell him from Me: "Rejoice, for the hour of your departure is at hand. In Karbila, three days after your return there, you will wing your flight to Me. Soon after shall He who is the Truth be made manifest. Then shall the world be illumined by the light of His face."'" * The year 1260 in the calendar of Islam is the year 1844 of the Christian calendar. 1270 is equivalent to 1853.
The companions of Siyyid Kazim were saddened by the thought of his approaching death. He comforted them with these words. "Is not your love for me really for the sake of that true One whose coming we all await? Would you not wish me to die, that the Promised One may be revealed?" To his last breath, Siyyid Kazim urged his followers to persevere in their search. He returned to Karbila, and on the day he arrived he became ill. Three days later he died, just as foretold in the shepherd's dream.