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Release the Sun

by William Sears

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Chapter 5

THE PERSECUTION BEGINS

The Bab returned with Quddus to Bushihr. A short time later He sent him on to Shiraz to bring greetings and instructions to His family and to the believers there. The Bab also sent some of His writings to be shared with them. He bade Quddus farewell with the greatest kindness. "The days of your companionship with Me," He told him, "are drawing to a close. ... In this world of dust, no more than a few fleeting months of association with Me have been allotted to you. ... "The hand of destiny ere long will plunge you into an ocean of tribulation. ... In the streets of Shiraz, indignities will be heaped upon you, and the severest injuries will afflict your body. You will survive ... and will attain the presence of Him who is the object of our adoration ... [that great Figure Who is yet to come]."[F1] In a short time, Quddus arrived in Shiraz. He began to speak everywhere of the wondrous days he had spent with the Bab. He aroused the whole city with his inspired words. He became very friendly with an old man named Mulla Sadiq, and gave him a copy of the Bab's writings. In this writing the Bab once again intimated that, just as Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim had promised, there would be two Messengers of God following close upon each other in this day.

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He was but the Herald and the servant of the great One yet to come. The enthusiasm which greeted the teaching of Quddus and Mulla Sadiq alarmed the city. Thousands of protests poured into the office of the governor, Husayn Khan. Quddus claims that the Bab is the author of a new Revelation, the governor was told. He has written a book which is divinely inspired. Now Mulla Sadiq has embraced this Faith, and is fearlessly summoning our people to accept as well. The governor ordered the arrest of both Quddus and Mulla Sadiq. They were delivered in irons to him. The commentary which the Bab had written for Mulla Husayn on the night He had announced His Mission was turned over to the governor. It had been seized from Mulla Sadiq. Husayn Khan ignored Quddus because of his extreme youth. He directed his questions to Mulla Sadiq who was older. Angrily he tapped the commentary of the Bab, which he held in his hand, showing his displeasure with it. "Tell me," he asked Mulla Sadiq, "if you are aware of the opening words of this book. Do you know that the Bab addresses the rulers and kings of the earth in harsh terms? He says: `Divest yourselves of sovereignty, for He who is the King in truth has been made manifest. The Kingdom is God's!'" The governor's wrath increased. "Does this mean that my sovereign, the Shah, whom I represent as Chief Magistrate in this region, must lay down his crown because of the ravings of this unlettered youth? Does it also mean that I, the governor, must relinquish my position?" Mulla Sadiq replied unhesitatingly, saying, that if the words spoken by the Bab were true and that He were indeed a Messenger of God, then everything else that was happening in the world was of little importance. Kingdoms and ages would pass into dust, but the Word of God would endure. Husayn Khan was displeased with the answer. He cursed Mulla Sadiq and Quddus. He ordered his attendants to strip Mulla Sadiq of his garments and to scourge him with a thousand lashes. He then commanded that the beards of both men should be burned, their noses pierced, and that a cord should be passed through this incision.

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"Let them be led through the streets of the city by this halter," he commanded. "It will be an object lesson to the people of Shiraz. It will teach everyone who is thinking of embracing this Faith just what the punishment for such action will be!" Mulla Sadiq was so advanced in age that he knew that he could not possibly survive this torture. Yet he was calm and self-possessed. He raised his eyes to heaven and offered a last prayer. "O Lord, our God! We have heard the voice of the One that called. He called us to His Faith, saying: `Believe ye on the Lord your God!' We have believed, O God. Forgive us then for our sins, and cause us to die with righteousness." An eye-witness to the torture of Mulla Sadiq has given the following testimony: "I was present when Mulla Sadiq was being scourged. I watched them stroke the lash to his bleeding shoulders until he became exhausted. No one watching believed he could outlasted fifty such savage strokes without dying. He was a very old man. We marveled at his courage. "Yet when the number of strokes already exceeded nine hundred, his face still retained its original serenity and calm. "When he was later being expelled from the city, I approached him with great admiration and asked him how he had been able to withstand such punishment. "He replied: `The first seven strokes were severely painful. To the rest I seemed to have grown indifferent. I was wondering whether the strokes that followed were actually being applied to my own body. A feeling of joy seized me. I was trying to repress my feelings and restrain my laughter.'" Mulla Sadiq looked at this eye-witness, as though trying to convey to him an important truth which he felt all men should know: that suffering, pain and persecution are only unbearable to those who had no purpose in life, no hope for the future; if they were withstood for the love of God, then the pain became pleasure in this world, and the sufferings became a means of being closer to God in the next. "I can now realize," he told him, "how the Almighty is able, in the twinkling of an eye, to turn pain into ease and sorrow into gladness. Immensely exalted is His power above the weak imagining of His mortal creatures."

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Both Mulla Sadiq and Quddus withstood their torture with great fortitude. For Quddus, this was but the beginning of greater suffering to come. Exhausted and bleeding, they were driven out of Shiraz. They were warned at the city gates that if they ever returned, they would both be crucified. Mulla Sadiq and Quddus were among the first followers of the Bab to suffer persecution on Persian soil.[F2]

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