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Release the Sun

by William Sears

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Chapter 6

THE GENTLE ARREST

Husayn Khan's anger was not satisfied by the punishment he had inflicted upon Mulla Sadiq and Quddus. He now directed his attack upon the Bab Himself. He sent a mounted escort to Bushihr, and ordered them to arrest the Bab and to bring Him back in chains to Shiraz. This spectacle, he felt, would dampen the enthusiasm of the people for His Cause. The guards set out at once to make the arrest. As they were marching across the wilderness enroute to Bushihr, they met a horseman. It was the Bab, Who had come to meet them. The leader of the escort has himself related the incident: "As we approached him, he saluted us and asked our destination. I said that the governor, Husayn Khan, had commanded us to go to Bushihr to make an inquiry. "He smilingly observed, `The governor has sent you to arrest Me. Here I am. Do with me as you please.' "I was startled by his remark and his straightforwardness. I could not understand his readiness to subject himself to Husayn Khan, thus risking his safety and life." The commander of the escort was very taken with the Bab. He did not wish him to fall into the hands of the governor. He pretended that he did not recognize the Bab, and ordered his men to move on.

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"I tried to ignore him and prepared to leave," the commander reported, "but he approached me again. `I know that you are seeking Me. I prefer to deliver myself into your hands rather than subject you and your companions to unnecessary annoyance for My sake.'" The commander pleaded with the Bab, telling Him to flee from Husayn Khan. He told Him of the suffering and torture which the governor had caused Mulla Sadiq and Quddus. "He is ruthless," the commander said. "I do not wish to be his instrument for persecuting you, an innocent person. Escape to Mashad." "Deliver Me into the hands of your master," the Bab replied. "Be not afraid, for no one will blame you. Until My last hour is at hand, none dare assail Me, none can frustrate the plan of the Almighty. And when My hour is come, how great will be My joy to quaff the cup of martyrdom in His name."[F1] The commander bowed his head in consent and carried out the Bab's wishes. He ordered his escort to permit the Bab to ride on ahead of them as though they were a guard of honor rather than a party of arrest. They continued in this fashion until they reached Shiraz. People turned around in the street to watch them and to marvel at this spectacle. The escort, which had been commanded to bring the Bab back in chains, had returned Him instead with every sign of the respect due to royalty. Husayn Khan was furious. He rebuked the Bab publicly. In abusive language, he denounced His conduct. "Do you realize what mischief you have caused?" he asked insolently. "Are you not the man who claims to be the author of a new revelation?" The Bab's gentle manners and courtesy only added to the governor's anger. The historian Nicolas wrote: "We know that The Bab especially commended politeness and the most refined courtesy in all social relations. `Never sadden anyone, no matter whom, for no matter what,' he enjoined." "...I have taught the believer in my religion," He says Himself, "never to rejoice over the misfortune of anyone."[F2] Lovingly, but firmly the Bab reminded Husayn Khan that as governor of the Province of Fars his duty was to determine the

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truth about the affairs in his region and not to make unjust decisions without first investigating personally. These words made the governor's temper flame. He repaid the Bab's courtesy by turning to his attendant and commanding him to strike the Bab in the face. The blow was so violent that it dislodged the Bab's headdress. The governor ordered the Bab to remain confined within the home of His uncle, Haji Mirza Siyyid `Ali, until he had decided what to do with Him. He instructed the uncle to be prepared to surrender the Bab to the governor's office for punishment at a moment's notice. For a while, the Bab led a life of comparative peace. During this period His followers met Him in secret in the home of His uncle. One such visitor was the well-known scholar and priest `Abdu'l-Karim. `Abdu'l-Karim was from the village of Qazvin. He was a merchant, but, so great was his longing to know about God, that he gave up his business and devoted his life to study. Because of his great thirst for knowledge, he soon eclipsed his fellow students. He was elevated to the station of a teacher. He was told that he need no longer attend the classes, for he now knew as much as the wisest doctor of religion. Therefore, he, `Abdu'l-Karim, could now teach others. This troubled `Abdu'l-Karim's heart very greatly, for he knew that in truth he knew nothing. If he were considered to be among the wisest of all, who was there on earth who knew anything about Almighty God at all? `Abdu'l-Karim refused to teach others for he felt himself unworthy. Night after night he would withdraw to his room and implore God for guidance. Of one of those nights, `Abdu'l-Karim himself has related: "I would remain absorbed in my thoughts each night until dawn. I neither ate nor slept. At times I would commune with God. `Thou seest me, O my Lord, and beholdest my plight. I am deeply troubled when I see the divisions that have torn Thy religion. What is the truth? Wilt Thou not guide me and relieve my doubts? Whither am I to turn for consolation and guidance?' "I wept so bitterly that I seemed to have lost consciousness. There suddenly came to me the vision of a great gathering of people. A noble figure was speaking to them: `Whoso maketh efforts for us,'

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he said, `in our ways will we guide them.' I was fascinated by his face. I arose and advanced toward him and was about to throw myself at his feet when the vision vanished. My heart was flooded with light. My joy was indescribable." `Abdu'l-Karim set out at once for Karbila. He saw Siyyid Kazim. He was standing addressing a crowd just as `Abdu'l-Karim had seen him in his dream. He was speaking those very same words. `Abdu'l-Karim spent an entire winter in close companionship with Siyyid Kazim, who spoke constantly of the coming Messenger. "The Promised One lives in the midst of this people," he declared. "The appointed time for His appearance is fast approaching. Purify yourselves that you may recognize His beauty. After my departure, arise and seek Him. Do not rest for a moment until you find Him." On the day when `Abdu'l-Karim parted from Siyyid Kazim, he told him: "Rest assured, O `Abdu'l-Karim, that you are one of those who, in the day of His appearance, will arise for the triumph of His Cause. You will, I hope, remember me on that blessed day." `Abdu'l-Karim returned to his home in Qazvin to await that wonderful day. A few years passed with no sign of the Promised One's coming, but `Abdu'l-Karim's heart was assured. He returned to his business as a merchant, but each night he would come home and withdraw to the quiet of his room. He would beseech God with all his heart, saying, "Thou hast, by the mouth of an inspired servant of Thine, promised that I shall attain unto the presence of Thy Messenger and hear Thy Word. How long wilt Thou withhold me from my promise?" Each night he would renew this prayer and would continue in his supplications until the break of day. "One night I was again so wrapt in prayer that I seemed to have fallen into a trance," he related. "There appeared before me a bird, white as snow, which hovered above my head and lighted upon the twig of a tree beside me. In accents of indescribable sweetness, the bird spoke these words: `Are you seeking the Promised One, O `Abdu'l-Karim? Lo, the year '60.' Immediately the bird flew away and vanished. "The mystery of those words greatly agitated me. The memory of that voice lingered in my memory both sleeping and waking. When in the year '60 I heard of a wondrous personage in Shiraz, I hastened to that city. "Eventually I attained the presence of the Bab. He turned to me

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and in the same sweet melodious voice of the white bird, He asked me: `Are you seeking the Manifestation [Promised One]?' `Abdu'l-Karim burst into tears and threw himself at the feet of the Bab in a state of profound ecstasy, much to the astonishment of his companions. The Bab took him lovingly in His arms, kissed his forehead, and invited him to be seated by His side. In a tone of tender affection, He succeeded in appeasing the tumult of his heart.[F3] In spite of Husayn Khan's close supervision, many such great figures came to visit the Bab. Stories of conversions similar to that of `Abdu'l-Karim caused great excitement in Shiraz. Both the famous and the lowly were willing to take whatever risk was necessary to gain His presence. People met in groups on the street to discuss Him, some blaming, some approving. Husayn Khan was infuriated at his helplessness and inability to stem the flow of the Bab's arising popularity.

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