Bahá'í Library Online
. . . .
.
>>   Books
> add tags

Release the Sun

by William Sears

previous chapter chapter 1 start page single page chapter 3 next chapter

Chapter 2

THE SEARCH BEGINS

Mulla Husayn was in Isfahan at this time upon a special mission for Siyyid Kazim. He was sent to win the support of an eminent religious leader. Mulla Husayn was so successful that the priest changed his views. He became so fond of Mulla Husayn that he regretted his earlier discourtesy and sent an attendant to find out where he was residing. The attendant followed him, and saw Mulla Husayn enter a room devoid of furniture with but a single mat upon the floor. He watched Mulla Husayn offer his prayers and lie down on the mat with nothing to cover him from the cold but his cloak. Then he reported this to his master, whose admiration for Mulla Husayn increased so greatly that he sent his attendant back to him with a gift of one hundred tumans. Mulla Husayn returned the money, saying, "Tell your master that his real gift to me was the fairness and open-mindedness with which he heard my message in spite of his exalted rank and my lowliness. Return this money, for I ask for neither regard nor thanks. We nourish souls for the sake of God. My prayer for your master is that earthly leadership may never hinder him from acknowledging and testifying to the truth."[F1] When Mulla Husayn returned to Karbila, Siyyid Kazim was dead. Though his own heart was heavy, Mulla Husayn cheered and

[page 11]

strengthened the disconsolate followers of his beloved leader. He called them all together to renew their ardor. "What," he asked them, "were the dearest wishes and the last commands of our departed leader?" From their reluctant lips Mulla Husayn extracted the following admissions: (1) That repeatedly and emphatically Siyyid Kazim had bidden them to quit their homes and scatter far and wide in search of Him to Whose coming he had so often alluded. (2) That the Object of their quest was now living amongst them and that His truth could be discovered only by the seeker who would persevere to the end. (3) That nothing short of powerful endeavor, purity of motive, singleness of purpose, and ceaseless search would ever lead them to Him. "We acknowledge our failure," they told him. "Then why," Mulla Husayn demanded, "have you chosen to remain in Karbila? Why is it that you have not dispersed and arisen to carry out Siyyid Kazim's earnest plea?" To his entreaty they gave weak and evasive answers. "Our enemies are many and powerful," one replied. "We must remain in this city and protect the honor of Siyyid Kazim." "I must stay and care for the children and the family which Siyyid Kazim has left behind," another explained. They all, however, agreed to the leadership of Mulla Husayn, saying, "Such is our confidence in you, that if you claim to be the Promised One, we shall all readily and unquestioningly submit." Mulla Husayn was shocked. "God forbid!" he cried, "that I who am but dust be compared to Him!" Mulla Husayn realized the futility of his efforts and spoke to them no more. He left them, and made his own plans to begin his quest for the Beloved of God.[F2] Mulla Husayn prepared for his search by withdrawing and spending forty days in retirement and prayer. His retreat was interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Mulla `Ali and twelve other followers of Siyyid Kazim. They had been stirred by his words, and had decided to follow Mulla Husayn's example and begin their search as well. On several occasions Mulla `Ali approached Mulla Husayn to ask him where he was going and what his destination would be. Every time he neared Mulla Husayn, he found him so deeply wrapt in prayer that he felt it improper to venture a question. Mulla `Ali

[page 12]

decided to retire in a like manner from the society of men and prepare his own heart for the quest. His companions followed his example. As soon as the forty days were up, Mulla Husayn left Karbila. He was resolved never to cease his search until he was in the presence of the One he sought. The promises of Siyyid Kazim stirred in his memory. Many were the prophecies which he turned over and over in his mind. "Verily in the year '60 [1260-1844] His Cause shall be revealed and His Name shall be noised abroad." "In His name, the name of the Guardian (`Ali) precedeth that of the Prophet [Muhammad]." "In 1260 the Tree of Divine guidance shall be planted." "The ministers and upholders of His Faith shall be of the people of Persia." It was now the year '60, so Mulla Husayn set out at once for Persia where he felt his search should begin. An inner prompting led him to Bushihr on the Persian Gulf. As he walked through the streets, his heart leapt with excitement for something told him that this city had once felt the footsteps of his Beloved. Mulla Husayn said that he could feel the sweet savors of His holiness in Bushihr. He did not remain in Bushihr because something suddenly turned him like a compass needle to the north. He set out at once on foot for the city of Shiraz. When he arrived at the gate of the city, he directed his brother and his nephew, who had accompanied him, to go to the prayer-house and await his return. "Something draws my heart into the city," he said, "but I shall meet you for evening prayers." A few hours before sunset, Mulla Husayn's eyes fell upon a young man of radiant countenance. The youth advanced toward Mulla Husayn and greeted him with a smile of loving welcome. He embraced Mulla Husayn with tender affection as though he had been an intimate and lifelong friend. At first Mulla Husayn thought him to be a follower of Siyyid Kazim, who on being informed of his approach to Shiraz, had come out to welcome him. Mulla Husayn recalls that memorable night as follows: "He extended to me a warm invitation to visit his home, and there refresh myself after the fatigues of my journey. I asked to

[page 13]

be excused, saying that my two companions were awaiting my return. "`Commit them to the care of God,' was His reply. `He surely will protect and watch over them.' "Having spoken these words, He turned and bade me follow Him. I was deeply stirred by the gentle yet compelling manner in which that young man spoke to me. His gait, the charm of His voice, the dignity of His bearing, all seemed to enhance my first impression. "Soon we were standing at the gate of a modest house. `Enter therein in peace secure,' were His words as He crossed the threshold and motioned to me to follow Him. His invitation, uttered with power and majesty, penetrated my soul. I thought it a good sign to be addressed in such words, standing as I did on the threshold of the first house I was to enter in Shiraz. Might not my visit to this house, I thought to myself, enable me to draw nearer to the Object of my quest? "A feeling of unutterable joy invaded my being. During the hour for prayer, I unburdened my heart: `O my God! I have striven with all my soul, and until now have failed to find Thy promised Messenger. I testify that Thy word faileth not, and that Thy promise is sure!' "It was about an hour after sunset when my youthful Host began to converse with me. `Whom, after Siyyid Kazim, do you regard as your leader?' "I answered Him: `At the hour of his death, Siyyid Kazim exhorted each of us to forsake our homes, to scatter far and wide in quest of the promised Beloved. I have journeyed to Persia, and am still engaged in my quest.' "`Has your teacher given you any detailed indications as to the distinguishing features of the Promised One?' "I enumerated all the things that Siyyid Kazim had told us to look for in that Beloved One of God. "My Host paused for some time, then with a vibrant voice He startled me with the words: `Behold! All These signs are manifest in Me!' "He then carefully considered each of the above signs separately, and conclusively demonstrated that each and all were indeed applicable to His person. I was greatly surprised and deeply moved. Politely I observed: `He whose advent we await is a Man of

[page 14]

unsurpassed holiness, and the Cause He is to reveal is a Cause of tremendous power.' "No sooner had those words dropped from my lips than I found myself seized with fear and remorse, such as I could neither conceal nor explain. I bitterly reproved myself, and resolved to alter my attitude and to soften my tone. I vowed to God that should my Host again refer to the subject, I would, with the utmost humility, answer Him and say: `If you be willing to substantiate your claim, you will most assuredly deliver me from the anxiety and suspense which so heavily oppress my soul. I shall truly be indebted to you for such deliverance.'" The name of Mulla Husayn's host was `Ali Muhammad. This young man had spent several years working as a merchant for his uncle in the city of Bushihr before coming to live at this time with his uncle in Shiraz. As Mulla Husayn looked upon the beautiful face of his host what thoughts must have coursed through his mind, for in his name the name of the Guardian [`Ali] preceded that of the Prophet [Muhammad]! He came from the land of Persia. He was announcing himself now in the year '60 [1844]. Was not all this foretold by Siyyid Kazim? Mulla Husayn had two standards whereby he hoped to determine the truth of whoever claimed to be that great Messenger. The first was a treatise which he had composed himself. It dealt with the most difficult hidden teachings of Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim. Whoever seemed capable of unravelling its mysteries would then be put to the test of revealing the commentary on the chapter of Joseph. Mulla Husayn recalls the suspense of that moment in these words: "While I was thinking about these things, my distinguished Host again remarked: `Observe attentively. Might not the Person intended by Siyyid Kazim be none other than I?' "I thereupon felt impelled to offer Him my own treatise. `Will you read this book of mine,' I asked Him, `and look at its pages with indulgent eyes?' "He opened the book, glanced briefly at certain passages, closed it, and began to speak to me. Within a few minutes He had, with vigor and charm, unravelled all its mysteries and resolved all the problems that had troubled me. He, further, informed me of certain truths which could not be found in any of the writings of Siyyid Kazim or Shaykh Ahmad. These teachings, which I had never heard

[page 15]

before, seemed to be endowed with a refreshing vividness and power. "`By the righteousness of God!' He exclaimed, `It behoves in this day, the peoples and nations of both the East and the West to hasten to this threshold. It behooves them to arise, as earnestly and spontaneously as you have arisen, and to seek with determination and constancy their promised Beloved.' "Then He looked at me, smiled, and said: `Now is the time to reveal the commentary on the Surih [Chapter] of Joseph.'" It all happened just as Siyyid Kazim had foretold to Mulla Husayn. "The Beloved in that hour," he had promised, "will reveal the commentary on the story of Joseph, unasked!" The Bab took up His pen and with incredible rapidity revealed the entire first chapter of His commentary on the chapter of Joseph. In this book, He prophesied His own martyrdom. The overpowering effect of the manner in which he wrote was heightened by the gentle intonation of His voice which accompanied His writing. Not for one moment did He interrupt the flow of the verses which streamed from His pen. Not once did he pause until it was finished. The historian Comte de Gobineau writes, "that which one never tired of admiring was the elegance and beauty of the Arabic style used in those writings. They soon had enthusiastic admirers who did not fear to prefer them to the finest passages in the Qur'an."[F3] "I sat enraptured by the magic of His voice and the sweeping force of His revelation," Mulla Husayn said. "At last I reluctantly arose from my seat and begged leave to depart. He smilingly bade me to be seated, and said: `If you leave in such a state, whoever sees you will assuredly say: "This poor youth has lost his mind."'" At that moment the clock registered two hours and eleven minutes after sunset. It was on the eve of May 23, 1844. "This night," the Bab told Mulla Husayn, "this very hour will, in days to come, be celebrated as one of the greatest and most significant of all festivals."[F4] Jesus first spoke of His Mission to simple fishermen. Now the Promised One of this age had given the first declaration of His Mission to this humble Persian student, Mulla Husayn. Never before in the history of a religion have the exact words of such an unforgettable meeting been preserved by an eye-witness. Mulla

[page 16]

Husayn, however, has left in everlasting language a memory of that first announcement by `Ali Muhammad, the Bab. He could never forget the inner peace and serenity which he had felt in the life-creating presence of the Bab. He spoke often to his companions of that wondrous night. "I sat spellbound by His utterance," he said. "All the delights [of Paradise] I seemed to be experiencing that night. Methinks I was in a place of which it could be truly said: `Therein no toil shall reach us,...but only the cry, Peace! Peace!'" Sleep had departed from Mulla Husayn as he listened to the music of his Beloved's voice. "`O thou who are the first to believe in Me. Verily, I am the Bab, the Gate of God.'" To Mulla Husayn, the first to believe in Him, the Bab gave the title: the Babu'l-Bab, the gate of the Gate. In that hour, the Bab proclaimed that He was the One foretold in all the holy Books of the past. He said that He had come to usher in a new era, a fresh springtime in the hearts of men. His name, the Bab, meant the door or gate. His teaching, He said, was to open the door or the gate to a new age of unity in which men would recognize one God and worship in one religion--the same religion which all of God's prophets had taught from the beginning of time. It would be an age in which all men would live as brothers. The Bab cautioned Mulla Husayn not to tell either his companions or any other soul what he had seen and heard. In the beginning, eighteen souls must spontaneously and of their own accord seek and accept Him and recognize the truth of His Revelation. When their number was complete, He would send them forth to teach the Word of God. Mulla Husayn's long search was at an end. His own words can best describe the depth of that experience. "I was blinded by the dazzling splendor of this new Revelation," he said, "and overwhelmed by its crushing force. Predominant among all my emotions was a sense of gladness and strength which seemed to have transfigured me. How feeble and impotent, how dejected and timid, I had felt previously! Then I could neither write nor walk, so tremulous were my hands and feet. Now, the knowledge of His Revelation had galvanized my being. I felt possessed of such courage and power that were the world, all its people and its rulers, to rise against me, I would alone and

[page 17]

undaunted withstand their onslaught. The universe seemed but a handful of dust in my grasp. I seemed to be the Voice of Gabriel personified, calling unto all mankind: `Awake, for lo! the morning Light has broken. Arise, for His Cause is made manifest. The portal of His grace is open wide; enter therein, O peoples of the world! For He Who is your Promised One is come!' "In such a state I left His house and joined my brother and nephew. The words of the Bab were ringing their melody of joy in my heart: `Render thanks unto God for having graciously assisted you to attain your heart's desire.'"

[page 18]

previous chapter chapter 1 start page single page chapter 3 next chapter
Back to:   Books
Home Site Map Forum Links Copyright About Contact
.
. .