The Dawn-Breakers Study Outline
7) Jump to the actual Chapters of The Dawn-Breakers:Intro.1 Intro.2 Preface 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 Epilogue Other Sections
Introduction Preface 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 Epilogue
For other sections, see the Contents page.
As well as being grieved by His captivity and summoning to Tabríz, the news of Nayríz, Shaykh Tabarsí, and the Seven Martyrs of Tihrán was compounded by that of what was beginning in Zanján during His last days.
They had been undeservedly subjected to suffering, deceived, robbed, and massacred. This massacre was to become the most violent and devastating with homes burned (?), 4000 slain (many killed by sword with the slightest suspicion) & women & children trodden down & destroyed without protectors.
Mullá Muhammad-'Alí (Hujjat) was an eminent dignitary (as was his eminent, pious & moral father Mullá Rahím-i-Zanjání (Ákhúnd Mullá 'Abdu'r-Rahím) who studied under a celebrated master, becoming Sharífu'l-'Ulamá & famous. As mujtahid, he was restless and turbulent as no question was sufficiently studied or solved. He was intolerant & immoderate in discussion & debate, offended the peaceful and traditionalists, though many considered him a saint and respected and had faith in him and his zeal.
Given his capacity evident since boyhood, his father meticulously attended to his education, sending him to Najaf, where he distinguished himself for insight, ability, scholarship, keen intelligence, fiery ardor, and impatience with narrowness in Islám (even overgeneralizing this for a time in holding disdain for the Imáms).
Taking his father's advice to avoid returning to Zanján where his enemies conspired against him, he set up in Hamadán, was well-received there, married, lived there for about 2 and 1/2 years until news of his father's death brought him home.
His ovation at returning as well as the new attitude evident in the few words he spoke, inflamed the 'ulamás hostility though they outwardly showed him kind consideration.
For 17 years he assiduously trained his followers to exercise self-discipline and moderation in all acts, ruthlessly suppressed abuse (including the whipping of a wine dealer and tearing down of his house, and the closing of a síghih- khánih where temporary unions were sanctioned for male visitors, and the giving in marriage of most of the women there and employment for the rest in respectable families), and otherwise sought to adhere to the Qur'án such that they surpassed the Zanjání 'ulamás in knowledge and understanding.
He perplexed the faithful by certain fatvás which upset old traditions, as he sought to enforce a certain hadíth literally, without necessarily seeking its origin and credibility, which literally taken enjoined fasting even on a day where it was prohibited. He permitted prostrations during prayers on a crystal stone. These innovations brought him partisans who admired his science & activity, but the clergy became increasingly exacerbated by it.
(530) On hearing the Call from Shíráz, he sent Mullá Iskandar to enquire into it. (531) Upon his response, the clergy were emboldened by his newfound allegiance to the Cause, as it finally gave them an opportunity to disgrace him before the government & people as a heretic of Islám & have him arrested & banished.
In a petition to Muhammad Sháh they lamented his influence aided by his disciples which undermined their authority, fearing its increase and even spread to near villages, as he embraced a new Faith and as the masses were thronging to follow his lead in prayer, requiring his father's masjid & the one his followers built in his honor to be connected to accommodate them.
Surprised by the tone and language of the petition as he recalled the tributes which visitors to Zanján paid to his great abilities and integrity, the Sháh shared this with Mírzá Nazar-'Alí (Hakím-Báshí) then summoned Hujjat & his opponents to Tihrán. When the Sháh with Hájí Mírzá Áqásí, the leading government officials, and some recognized Tihrání 'ulamás called on Hujjat's opponents to vindicate their claims, Hujjat established his innocence & learning through his answers, not only being exonerated and encouraged to return to his services, but was also to inform the Sháh of any future difficulties. When an 'Ulamá of Káshán petitioned the king for pensions, Hujjat bitterly denounced the clergy for this practice (originating from the Báni-Umayyih) citing hadíths and the Qur'án, leading to the Sháh's good pleasure at his frankness, and prompting him to give Hujjat a staff and ring as well as authorization to return to Zanján.
Upon his return, his opponents grew in animosity due to his adherence to liberal principles which undermined their authority and institutions while his supporters grew correspondingly in their devotion, offering him sacrifices of oxen, chickens & sheep, and with 12 12-yr olds proceeding in the center with red kerchiefs around their necks as a sign of their readiness to sacrifice. Hujjat continued to transform his disciples through virtue, temperance, 3 months of fasting, lengthened prayers including the invocation of Ja'far-i- Tayyár, use of Qur (legal measure of purity of water) for ablutions, and Friday attendance at the Mosques.
(532) When Mashhadí Ahmad returned from Shíráz, his envoy sent with a petition and (533) gifts to the Báb, he delivered a sealed letter from the Báb to Hujjat during a meeting with his disciples. In the Tablet he was given the title Hujjat and was charged to proclaim the Faith's fundamental teachings from the pulpit without any hesitation. He immediately sought to enforce its provisions by dismissing his disciples having them close their books and discontinue their courses of study as study and research were unnecessary upon finding Truth and the manifestation of the Object of all knowledge.
When he attempted to lead the Báb's Friday congregational prayer and added words indicating the new Day and need to turn to the Báb, the Lord of the Age, for knowledge of God, nearly all were affected and accepted the new message, though the Imám Jum'ih protested Hujjat performing the duty of conducting the prayer as his forefathers had done and his sovereign had commanded him to do. Hujjat retorted the authority had been superseded by the Qá'im and that he could not allow any to take that right, indicating he would resort to self-defense and protection of his companions, should any trespass.
(533) The 'ulamás joined with the Imám-Jum'ih (and Shaykhu'l-Islám) to complain to (534) Hájí Mírzá Áqásí of his challenge to their rights and institutional validity indicating their need to either leave flee town with their families and leave him in charge, or get the Sháh to order his expulsion from the country.
Despite the Vazír's aversion for their beliefs and practices, he eventually yielded and submitted the matter to Muhammad Sháh who then ordered his arrest/transfer to the capital.
When the appointed messenger, the Kurd Qilíj Khán delivered the summons, Hujjat had just received a reply of the Báb to his own letter begging Him to allow him to rescue Him which stated that God alone could deliver Him and that they would soon meet in the next world. Hujjat then accompanied the messenger to the capital as the Báb left from His detention in Kulayn.
The authorities sought to ensure Hujjat left Zanján as the Báb passed through to avoid new disturbances. Though Hujjat sent the companions following him to assure the Báb of a readiness to rescue Him, the Báb expressed the desire that none deliver Him nor crowd around Him but rather avoid Him. However, those who wished to meet Him forget His desire and were impelled to meet Him. The guards in front of Him dispersed them ruthlessly.
Muhammad Big-i-Chápárchí argued with and finally convinced the guard despatched from Tihrán to bring the Báb to Tabríz that He should be brought into town to Mírzá Ma'súm-i-Tabíb's caravanserai (the father of the martyr Mírzá Muhammad-'Alíy-i-Tabíb) before going to Ádhirbáyján to avoid the danger of being attacked outside the gate. They were amazed by the masses gathered on housetops to see Him.
The former owner's eldest son, Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí, leading physician of Hamadán, though not a believer, loved Him and prepared for His reception. Remaining with Him till late, he was completely won over to His Cause. Before daybreak with lit lantern, he went to the caravanserai preceded by his father's attendant & was permitted by the guards who recognized him to enter. As he watched the Báb perform ablutions and devotions, he became overwhelmed, prepared His tea, then was told by Him to go to Hamadán as the town's streets would run with blood. When he expressed the wish to shed his blood for the Cause, he was told that his martyrdom had not yet come & that he should be resigned to God's will. When he begged to follow the Báb as He arose on His horse at sunrise to leave, he was told to remain and assured of His prayers. He regretfully, though resigned to His will, watched His departure.
When Hujjat was conducted to Hájí Mírzá Áqásí, the latter expressed his and the Sháh's annoyance at the oral and written denunciations of the Zanjání 'ulamás and their disbelief he could desert his forefathers' Faith. He looked to him to refute those accusations and expressed disappointment that he should identify himself with the Báb's Cause, as he saw Hujjat as infinitely superior in knowledge and ability. When Hujjat replied that he would be so honored to conduct the meanest service in His household that the sovereign's favors could never hope to surpass it, the Vazír burst that that could never be. Hujjat reiterated his conviction that the Báb was the One Whom he and the world awaited.
The Vazír reported his fears to Muhammad Sháh that an adversary esteemed by the Sháh as the most accomplished 'ulamá would endanger the State. The Sháh, disinclined to credit reports deemed due to malice & envy, ordered a meeting for him to vindicate his position before the Tihrání 'ulamás.
At these several meetings Hujjat eloquently proclaimed the Faith & confounded their arguments citing the Book as the only remaining testimony (the family having passed away). As they asked for a miracle, he exclaimed he could not imagine a greater miracle than that He enabled him to triumph in argument over the combined forces of Tihrání mujtahids and 'ulamás.
Hujjat's masterly refutation won the Sháh's favor, no longer being swayed by their insinuations. Though all the 'ulamás and several ecclesiastical leaders declared him an infidel and condemned him to death, the Sháh continued his favors and assured him of his support. As a result, the Vazír could not openly show his resistance to him, so he sought to conceal his resentment and envy by visiting him frequently and lavishing gifts on him.
He was a virtual prisoner there, confined not to go beyond the gates or have free intercourse with his friends. The believers sent a deputation for new instructions as to the attitude they should have toward the Faith's laws and principles. He enjoined them to absolutely loyally obey the admonitions He sent through Hujjat's messengers. As Siyyid Kázim-i-Zanjání (intimately connected with Him in Shíráz & Isfáhán), Mullá Iskandar and Mashhadí Ahmad testified to His obedience of the observances which departed from Islám's established traditions, therefore behooving them to follow Him.
They were inflamed with a desire to carry out his wishes, giving up former customs & practices, all identifying fully with its claims, including the children, citing Hujjat's reasoning.
While captive, Hujjat learned of the siege of fort Tabarsí and longed to reach them. His sole consolation was close association with Bahá'u'lláh who would sustain him with deeds at least as remarkable as those at Tabarsí.
When the Sháh passed away and left Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, the new Grand Vazír sought to make his imprisonment more rigorous and seek to destroy him. On hearing of his danger, he left in disguise and join his companions. He was there until the new Sháh appointed an uncle, Amír Arslán Khán Majdu'd- Dawlih (Ishíq Ághásí) as governor of Zanján.
When Karbilá'í Valí-'Attár announced his return, the companions (men, women, and children) flocked to welcome him and assure their devotion to the Báb. Rich and respected men, soldiers, merchants, even Mullás came 1 or 2 stations to conduct him home as a master (not as exile, suppliant, or respected rival). Many heads of sheep were sacrificed in his honor. No opponents dared asked why he left but they were strained as the new Bábís (overestimated? at 15000) preached throughout the city.
The Zanjání governor (Majdu'd-Dawlih, maternal uncle of new Sháh) in desperation at their spontaneous ovation, ordered Karbilá'í Valí-'Attár's tongue be cut out and that Muhammad Bik be whipped. He however pretended to be Hujjat's friend showing him unbounded consideration though he was plotting his death.
When a quarrel between 2 children of Zanján arose (1 being of Hujjat's companions), the governor ordered the child's arrest and strict confinement. When money was offered by the believers to induce him to release the child, he refused. When the believers besought Hujjat, Hujjat wrote to the governor protesting that he was too young to be responsible and if anyone was to suffer, it was the father not the child. He later repeated the appeal to be delivered directly by the influential Mir Jalíl (Siyyid Ashraf's father & martyr).
Though refused admittance at first, when he threatened to force his way (unsheathe his sword) to compel the child's release. When the governor unconditionally complied, the 'ulamás, to curb Hujjat's influence, deprecated the governor's submission as enabling Hujjat to make further demands, assume authority, and exclude the governor. The governor consented to have Hujjat arrested, assured by the 'ulamás that the town's security would not be compromised.
When the strong and brutal Pahlaván (brave & muscular athlete champion) Asadu'lláh and Pahlaván Safar-'Alí were promised to be well-rewarded for delivering Hujjat handcuffed, they volunteered and went in armor and helmets followed by a band of recruited ruffians to Hujjat's quarter.
When they arrived, Mír Saláh with 7 armed companions opposed their advance questioning where they were bound. When Asadu'lláh returned an insult, he unsheathed his sword, despite his enemy's heavy armor, cried the call of the Lord of the Age, wounded him in the forehead & thereby caused the band to scatter & flee. The wounded man was cared for in Mír Saláh's aunt's house.
As the cry had spread panic through the town, the governor asked the shout's meaning and who raised it. He was shaken when told that Hujjat's companions called on the Qá'im in distress.
When the group saw Shaykh Muhammad-i-Túb-Chí unarmed, one of their ablest enemies, they broke his head with an axe and brought him to the governor. When they laid the body down, Siyyid Abu'l-Qásim (a Zanjání mujtahid) stabbed Mír Saláh with a penknife while the governor struck him on the mouth with his sword and whose attendants completed his murder while he praised God for his martyrdom (the first in Zanján, 45 days before Vahíd's and 55 days before the Báb's martyrdom).
The shed blood inflamed the enemy to conspire to seek the total destruction of the remaining "heretics" without express government authorization. After obtaining the consent of the Sháh (who was also besought by his son Sadr-i- A'zam and 'Ulamás who had declared holy war and was enraged by thought of another sedition), they forced the governor to send a crier to warn anyone joining Hujjat that their life & property were in danger and their wife & children would be exposed to misery & shame and offer the sovereign's protection to those who withdrew.
When this warning came, the inhabitants' faith was tested and they were divided into 2 camps. Fathers their sons, wives their husbands, children their mothers, brothers their kin, thrust away one another and separated, worldly affections and solemn earthly pledges were severed for a more mighty loyalty, and cries of wild excitement and distress at what they had to abandon (wives, children, belongings) mixed in with the blasphemous shouts of the enemy and exultation of Hujjat's newly enrolled.
The enemy was and had been secretly preparing for the struggle, rushing in reinforcements from the area (3000) at the governor's command and mujtahids, siyyids and 'ulamás encouragement, especially with the abandoning of local houses.
Hujjat arose the pulpit and declared that God has this Day separated truth and guidance from falsehood and error, and that as their sole goal was to seize and kill Hujjat, any not willing to give their life for the Cause should leave. He exhorted them never to attack but to defend, and assured them that their deaths, burning, decapitations, sacrifice of wives and possessions though they were companions of the Lord of the Age were not cause for shame, but rather were, as has always been, the means for enkindling the Faith.
(544) Mír Saláh and companions besought Hujjat to transfer to the nearby formidable (545) fort 'Alí-Mardán Khán which was erected amidst unrepaired houses of readily degradable material. As Hujjat consented and ordered the women, children, and provisions to be taken there, they went to the fort, found it occupied, induced them to leave in exchange for their own houses.
When the enemy attacked, the courageous siyyid Mír Ridá besought Hujjat to allow him to capture and return the governor as prisoner. Hujjat, however, was unwilling and advised him against risking his life.
When informed of the siyyid's intention, the governor was going to flee for fear. However a siyyid pleaded him not to leave that the resulting disturbances would not disgrace him.
The governor misrepresented the affair to Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí Khán Amír-i- Kabír so as not to weaken his own influence, and received Siyyid 'Alí Khán (Lieutenant-Colonel of Fírúz-Kúh) who besieged the fort, leading to casualties on both sides, until he was defeated and required reinforcements.
However, Ja'far-Qulí Khán (Lieutenant-Colonel and brother of I'timádu'd- Dawlih) refused in not wanting to attack siyyids and men of learning whose tenets he was unfamiliar with (though he would have fought "Russians, Jews or other infidels") as well as Mír Siyyid Husayn Khán of Fírúz-Kúh (whom the Vazír dismissed and disgraced as a result).
Officers of the 'Alíyu'lláhís sect went to the war but withdrew on learning of the matter as the chief forbade their fighting since the prophecy of the Manifestation's coming came true as well as that soldiers of Gúrán coming to the king's capital before the Lord of the Age's appeared. In recognition of the Bábís devotion, godliness, and piety, some wavered in secret and did not put their full strength into the war. They promised to help the Bábís when their religion gained strength.
The attacks continued until Sadru'd-Dawliy-i-Isfáhání (grandson of Hájí Muhammad-Husayn Khán-i-Isfáhání) heading with 2 Khamsih regiments to Ádhihbáyján was ordered to proceed instead to Zanján to assist them in subjugating Hujjat in order to win the Sháh's favor and people's esteem.
Eager out of ambition, he went to Zanján and combined forces & ordered attack.
He came with Siyyid 'Alí Khán of Fírúz-Kúh and Sháhbár Khán of Marághih each with 200 horsemen from their tribes then Muhammad-'Alí Khán-i-Sháh- Sún with 200 mounted afshárs, 50 artillerymen with 2 field guns and 2 mortars. This abundant arms supply and the presence of famous chieftains assured the governor.
When Mustafá Khán Qájár, with 15th Shigághí regiment, Sadru'd-Dawlih, Siyyid 'Alí Khán & Muhammad-'Alí Khán with their men, Muhammad Áqá (colonel) with Násir royal regiment, and Major Nabí Big with calvary and loyal Zanjání citizen troop attacked at dawn, though the resistance was magnificent, their best, brave and true saintly leaders, Núr-'Alí the hunter, Bakhsh-'Alí the carpenter, Khudádád and Fathu'lláh Big fell in morning or in evening. The battle lasted 3 days and nights. Despite the circumstances, they were nevertheless undeterred from an unconditional surrender.
The Bábís went up and down the terraces while carrying their cannon. It sometimes required manpower and beams to prop up if it fell through the earth floor. When the enemy approached, they raised their arms and were shot while 100 more vied to replace them.
Undeterred by cannon-fire, lack of sleep, hunger, and the number, equipment and training of the enemy, they rushed out, carried away by their own call to the Lord of the Age and scattered the enemy.
After 9 months of fighting, only 30 crippled soldiers were left of his original 2 regiments. He was forced to admit defeat, was degraded from rank, and reprimanded by the Sháh.
Only those Zanjánís forced to fight renewed their attacks, most being fought by newly despatched regiments from the capital.
Though the merchants benefited from the influx of forces, Hujjat's men suffered from dwindling supplies and food. Their only food came from a few women who came under different pretexts to the fort to sell it at exorbitant prices.
Undaunted, they erected 28 barricades entrusted to 19 disciples each with 19 extra as sentinels to watch and report on the enemy. When the crier was sent to induce them to desert through promises from the Sháh, governor, commander-in-chief of forgiveness, a free return, gifts, noble rank for those recanting. The friends replied as one voice contemptuously and decisively.
(549) The fair-faced, comely Zaynab of lofty faith and courage was from a tiny hamlet in Zanján and came with the women and children who had joined the fort defenders. Witnessing the men's trials, she desired to disguise herself (donning a tunic and male headdress, cutting off her locks, girting a sword, and taking a musket and shield) and join them to repulse the enemy. With bared sword and the cry of the Lord of the Age, she amazed friend and foe with her courage and resourcefulness (though they were unaware of her gender) causing the enemy to deem her a curse from God and flee.
As she began to pursue the enemy, Hujjat, viewing their movements from a turret, had marveled at the unequaled vitality and courage of that soldier but sent his men to have the soldier (Zaynab) return.
When he asked her of her motive, she stated her sorrow and pity at her companions' sufferings, and that she was impelled by an irresistible urge and was afraid of being denied the privilege to join the men. When he asked whether she were the Zaynab who volunteered to join the fort, she replied she was though only he had recognized her, and adjured him by the Báb not to withhold her one desire of attaining martyrdom.
He titled her Rustam-'Alí for her courage, noted it was the Day of Resurrection when "all secrets shall be searched out" and that God only judges His servants by their beliefs and acts, and that she had showed such vitality and resource as few men could hope to surpass. He warned her, however, not to exceed the bounds of their Faith in that though they were called to defend their lives, they were not to wage holy war.
She continued for 5 months careless of food and sleep, quickened the friends by her example and reminded them of their duty. During her little sleep, she was seen resting on her sword covered by her shield. Though each friend was given a specific post to defend, she was allowed free movement. She was always at the head of and in the midst of each fray, ready to rescue any threatened post or one needing encouragement or support. Though the enemies later learned of her gender, they dreaded her approach, and were filled with despair even at her shrill voice.
When the friends were surrounded one day, Zaynab begged at Hujjat's feet to go out to fall by the sword as she anticipated her end and for him to forgive her and intercede to her Master. Overcome with emotion, he did not reply. She interpreted this silence as consent, left the gate crying the call, shouted questions as to why they were staining Islám's name and fleeing if they were true, routed guards of 3 barricades, and was shot down. No one dared question her chastity, faith, or character. Upon her death, 20 of her acquaintances declared, regarding her no longer as a peasant girl but as the embodiment of noble conduct and spirit.
Hujjat had his intermediaries tell the friends to obey the Báb's injunction to repeat 19 times 5 invocations which they did, all shouting them together that evening.
Their loud and compelling cry awakened them and caused them to flee to the houses near the governor's. A few literally dropped dead from fear while many fled to adjoining villages. Many saw it as a sign of Judgment Day while others saw it as a sign of a new more terrible attack.
Hujjat contemplated the terror he could strike if permitted to wage holy war on those cowards. He noted his task of instilling charity, love, and restraint from unnecessary violence in the believers; and desire to loyally serve the Sháh and people. Despite the adoration he could receive, he pledged not to trade his loyalty to the Cause for any amount of treasure or honor.
The enemy's camp was in disarray with their noisy laughter, blasphemies and insults being interrupted by the call, causing them to drop their wine-glasses, and, knocking over their gambling tables, rush out half-dressed with bare heads & feet into the wilderness or to 'ulamás homes waking them up. The 'ulamás insulted one another for having kindled such mischief.
Meanwhile Hujjat's camp was filled with reverent devotion as they invoked God, prayed for guidance and mercy, continued their vigils and prescribed chants despite their exhaustion.
When the enemy discovered their call was not to attack, they returned in humiliation to their posts. The officers directed men to fire in the direction of these voices, killing some each night. Nevertheless, the friends continued to raise their call with fervor, and increased their loudness as their number diminished.
Amidst this contest Hujjat sent a petition to the Sháh calling him to look on the situation with justice; citing his meeting with the former Sháh who had commended his efforts, his transfer to Tihrán to abate the fury surrounding his person, his departure from Tihrán out of self-defense when the Amír- Nizám suspected him of treason during the Mázindarán upheaval and sought his death, his harassment and arrest by the Majdu'd-Dawlih instigated by the Zanjání 'ulamás and corroborated by the people; and asserting their faithfulness to the Sháh despite their enemies' misrepresentations and their willingness to defend the Cause from his opponents in the Sháh's presence.
He had his leading supporters draft similar appeals calling for justice.
The petitions messenger was arrested on the way and brought to the governor. Angered at his opponents action, he ordered the messenger's death, destroyed the petitions, and drafted & sent letters of insult to the Sháh in Hujjat's and his companions' names.
The Sháh was so enraged that he ordered 2 armed regiments to kill all of Hujjat's supporters.
As Siyyid Hasan, Siyyid Husayn's brother, brought news of the Báb's martyrdom on his way to Qazvín, the enemy made shouts of light, ridiculing and taunting their efforts, questioning why they would be sacrificing themselves for One Who had been killed and Whose body had been lost and not desert the fort and recant their Faith. However, they failed to shake any of them from their Faith.
During the 20 days of suspended hostility, 'Azíz Khán-i-Mukrí (Sardár-i-Kull) met Hujjat through Siyyid 'Alí Khán. He was on his way to Íraván/Tiflis to congratulate the grand duke, heir apparent of Russia on arriving in Caucasia. Siyyid 'Alí Khán shared with him the touching circumstances of how Hujjat had told him that if his appeal was not entertained, he was willing to go into exile with his family. However, they would defend themselves if that request were not granted. 'Azíz Khán assured Siyyid 'Alí Khán he would seek to induce the authorities to quickly solve this problem. When Siyyid 'Alí Khán left and a farrásh of the Amír-Nizám arrived, out of fear 'Azíz Khán insulted Hujjat in order to save his life.
17 cavalry and infantry regiments (over 3000 men) with 14 guns (including 6 cannons and 2 mortars) were under the Amír-Túmán's command and 5 more regiments were recruited from the area and trained. Qásim Khán, major Arslán Khán & cavalry, and 'Alí-Akbar & infantry all arrived with orders from the king. On his night of arrival, the Amír-Túmán ordered trumpets to warn of their resumed attack, and had the artillery officers open fire.
When the firing began, Hujjat had the friends position their 2 constructed guns, one up high over the Amír's headquarters. A ball hit his tent and killed his steed at the same time as the friends were being killed in large number.
Despite the Amír-Túmán's superior forces and equipment, as days went by, they had not obtained victory. As Farrukh Khán (Yahyá Khán's son and the brother of a general of the battle, Hájí Sulaymán Khán) was killed, the Amír- Nizám reprimanded the Amír-Túmán for failing to obtain unconditional surrender, sullying their country's name, demoralizing the army, and wasting the lives of its officers. He ordered him to enforce discipline amongst his subordinates, cleansing them of debauchery, and counsel with Zanjání chiefs in order to keep his position. The Amír added he would come there himself to massacre all the town's inhabitants regardless of belief given the humiliation and distress they were bringing to the Sháh.
As the kad-khudás and chiefs had been rallied by the letter shown by the Amír- Túmán to induce all able-bodied men to rally to trumpets and drums toward the fort, Hujjat's companions made the call, left the gates and attacked.
Many sons were cruelly butchered before their mother, while sisters anguished at brothers' disfigured heads raised on spears. At least 300 died. However, the women raised shouts of exultation which significantly contributed to the men's victory. Some had even donned male garb to replace the fallen, while the rest carried full water skins for the thirst and strength of the wounded. The enemy, amidst defections and water deprivation, fought a losing battle, unable to retreat or win.
(559) Muhsin's unparalleled warmth and richness in sounding the adhán so deeply penetrated its hearers' hearts that they began to loudly protest the heresy charges brought on Hujjat and his followers. When the leading mujtahid (560) heard this and could not convince them through private or public counsel that Hujjat was the enemy of the Prophet and Faith, he implored the Amír-Túmán to exterminate the "evil" man behind the undermining cry.
Though the Amír first refused the appeal assigning responsibility for holy war declarations to the clergy and exonerating those in the government such as himself as mere servants to their orders, he hinted that Muhsin's assassination would require compensation. On returning home, the siyyid sent him 100 túmáns through a messenger.
The Amír then ordered some marksmen to shoot Muhsin in dawn prayer. A bullet hit his mouth while he was saying "There is no God but God," and killed him. Hujjat ordered another to ascend the turret & continue the prayer. Though his life was spared, he was later similarly atrociously martyred.
Toward the siege's end, Hujjat urged the married to celebrate their nuptials. For each unmarried youth, he chose a spouse and contributed what he could for their happiness, selling his wife's jewels. 3 months of festivities were mixed with and interrupted by the siege's terrors and hardships. As the married were greeting each other with joy, the advancing foe's clamor and the responding cry interrupted. Though the brides often besought them to stay awhile longer, they declared the necessity of leaving to be martyred and spoke of their future eternal reunion.
Though some of the 200 newly-wed youths had enjoyed their marriage for only a month, a few days, or a brief moment, none failed to joyously respond to the call of sacrifice, winning the title Ard-i-A'lá (Exalted Spot) by the Báb linked with His name.
5 of Karbilá'í 'Abdu'l-Báqí's 7 sons were just joined in wedlock by Hujjat when a new offensive brought them to repulse the attacker. All 5 were killed. The intelligent and courageous eldest was captured, brought to the Amír-Túmán, and was ordered to be laid down on the ground with a fire kindled on the breast which held such a love for Hujjat. The youth burst that no flame they could kindle could destroy his love and praised God till his death.
"Mother of Ashraf" was newly married in the fort and gave birth to Ashraf both of whom survived the later massacre. Years later when her son grew to a youth of great promise and was subjected to persecution seeking to induce him to recant, though he refused. When the enemy sought to alarm his mother into convincing him to save his life, she promised to disown him if he allowed such evil whisperings to turn him away from Truth. Ashraf calmly met his death. She did not lament or shed a tear at his death, showing a courage that amazed his perpetrators. On gazing at her son's corpse, she recalled the vow she made at his birth and rejoiced that God allowed her to fulfill it.
Despite the adversity about them, the men and women dedicated their leisure to prayer and thoughts to guarding the fort. Every women regardless of rank or age, joined in, sewing garments, baking bread, ministered to sick and wounded, repairing barricades, clearing balls and missiles fired into the courts and terraces, and cheering the wavering and faint in heart. As the Carthaginian women had, they cut their long hair to wrap around the crazy guns for support. The children even assisted with no less remarkable an enthusiasm as their parents.
Because of their efforts, the enemy imagined their number to be at least 10,000 and conceded they received fresh reinforcements from Nayríz, Khurásán, and Tabríz.
(563) Exasperated by their tenacity and spurred by rebukes and protests of the Tihrán authorities, he called for suspension of hostility to devise their defeat through treachery giving currency to the report that the Sháh had discouraged (was ashamed by?) and deplored these attacks and had called off them off. He felt in light of the experience of Tabarsí that they could save lives of the officers and generals (not concerned with soldiers) and be saved from defeat and ridicule, even though sacred promises would need to be broken.
The Amír-Túmán sent a peace appeal to Hujjat in which he assured him of his sincerity of making a lasting settlement. He included a sealed copy of the Qur'án to indicate the sacredness of his pledge, declaring them to be forgiven by the Sháh and swearing they would be under his protection if they left the fort.
When Hujjat reverently received the Qur'án, and upon reading it, informed the messenger to tell his master he would respond during the next day. Though he expressed his misgivings as to their sincerity to his chief companions, as Mázindarán and Nayríz had demonstrated, out of deference to the Qur'án, he agreed to respond and send some companions to their camp to expose their deceit.
The survivor of Zanján Ustád Mihr-'Alíy-i-Haddád related how he as one of 9 children no older than 10 years old who joined the men over 80 years of age, Karbilá'í Mawlá-Qulí-Áqá-Dádásh, Darvísh-Saláh, Muhammad-Rahím, and Muhammad. Their most impressive figure, Darvísh-Saláh, had been esteemed for his honor and justice, though he renounced these honors upon his conversion and joined the fort defenders. He carried the sealed Qur'án into the Amír-Túmán's presence.
When they reached the tent, they were made to wait his orders then their salute was contemptuously ignored for a half hour. He then proudly reprimanded them for exhibiting unprecedented shamelessness. When the oldest and feeblest begged and was allowed to speak a few words, though unlettered, he admirably indicated their loyalty to the Sháh and people; the twisting of their true intentions by their ill-wishers; the indifference of the Sháh and his representatives; the resulting attack of their enemies, plundering of their property, violation of their wives and daughters' honor, and capturing of their children; and their resulting arising to self-defense.
The Amír asked his lieutenant what to do, as he was at a loss and would have embraced the Cause were he at heart religious. When the lieutenant replied that only the sword would deliver them from their heresy, Darvísh-Saláh asked whether these words were their reward for responding to his appeal and swearing on the Qur'án. The Amír furiously ordered Darvísh-Saláh's beard to be torn out, and for them to be thrown in a dungeon.
The children were scared and sought to escape, crying the call, and rushing to the barricades. Some were overtaken and imprisoned, while Ustád Mihr- 'Alíy-i-Haddád tore away from a man who had pursued and caught hold of his garment's hem and reached the fort's gate in exhaustion. He then saw a companion, Ímán-Qulí, savagely murdered, despite the cease-fire and learned he had been betrayed by his brother who claiming to want to speak with him, handed him over to the persecutors.
The child rushed to Hujjat who wiped the dust from his face, clothed him in new garments, invited him to sit by him and had him tell him the companions' fate. He then said this was the unprecedented tumult of the Day of Resurrection which would according the Qur'án cause man and woman to abandon their closest kin, acting drunk though not, and even shed their kin's blood.
Seating in the open square's center, Hujjat summoned his followers then stood when they arrived to tell them of his being pleased their unflinching endeavors, the enemy's sole intention to trick and slaughter them, their ill-treatment of the oldest and youngest at their failure, and their unwillingness to rest until they had been captured, their wives dishonored, and their children slain. He advised them to leave in the middle of the night and find refuge until the tyranny would pass while he faced them alone, ready to die to allay their thirst for revenge.
Deeply moved and stirred to tears, they refused, however, to leave his side as they felt themselves or their family neither more worthy or of nobler descent than him or his kin. All were faithful to their pledge, except a few who succumbed to the siege's distress and left the fort and companions.
(568) In despair the Amír ordered all men to the camp for commands. He organized regiments, appointed officers, and added them to the new recruits. He ordered 16 regiments with 10 guns to march on the fort. 8 of them were to attack every forenoon which he himself directed while the rest were to replace them until evening. On the field, he assured them of reward if successful and warned of the Sháh's punishment if they failed (court threats and encouragement referred to in note 1, p. 568 leading to imminence of victory?).
A month of fierce daily and even nighttime attacks supplemented by continual reinforcements and superior supplies thinned the friends' numbers and added to their distress. They suffered misery and hunger as their outlook worsened.
The Amír-Nizám appointed Hasan-'Alí Khán-i-Karrúsí with 2 sunní regiments to march there to strengthen the Amír-Túmán's command. When they arrived, the enemy there began intensely bombarding the fort, threatening the structure's destruction. It nevertheless managed to last several days during which the friends displayed evident valor and skill.
While performing ablutions, Hujjat was shot in the right arm. Though he ordered his servant not to tell his wife, he couldn't conceal his grief and tears, tipping off Hujjat's wife of a problem. When she ran in in distress and found Hujjat calmly praying, he asked God's pardon for his attackers for they didn't know what they were doing, as opposed to those who led them astray. He sought to calm his wife's & relatives' distress at the blood covering him, telling them to rejoice as he was still with them and that they should be wholly resigned to God's will. He stated what they saw now was but a drop of the ocean of afflictions to accompany his death, and that it was incumbent on them to acquiesce and bow down to His will, whatever His decree.
(569) On hearing of his injury, the companions dropped their arms and rushed to him. The Karrús regiment under Hasan-'Alí Khán (who later became minister to Paris) took advantage of this, redoubled their attack, and forced passage through the gate. The 4th regiment took the Áqá 'Ázíz stronghold & burnt it to the ground. The guards regiment blew up the hotel near the Hamadán gate. Though losing a captain and several soldiers, they managed to keep the place.
(570) They captured at least 100 women and children and plundered their possessions. For at least 15 days and nights, they were left exposed to a cold rarely seen in Zanján wearing the thinnest garments and without covering besides gauze covering their heads which they tried in vain to shield their faces from the icy wind. Without food or shelter, they were left in the wilderness. Crowds of women of inferior social standing flocked and contemptuously ridiculed them, exclaiming how they had now found their god and been abundantly rewarded by him. They danced wildly, spat in their faces, and insulted them. Hujjat then warned his wife Khadíjih who was holding their baby Hádí that she and the baby might soon be taken captive. As she was venting her distress, a cannon-ball struck the room and killed her instantly while the baby at her breast fell into the brazier beside her and soon died of its injuries in the Zanjání mujtahid Mírzá Abu'l-Qásim's house.
Despite his deep grief, he didn't yield to idle sorrow, crying that he had foreseen his woes upon recognizing the Báb. He cried that as great as his sorrows had been, he was not only willing to suffer incomparably more but wished for a myriad lives and the riches of the world to sacrifice for Him. He also cried that his sufferings could not compare with the blessings bestowed by recognizing Him.
As the friends were indignant about this tragic loss and sought to avenge the victims' blood, he dissuaded them and exhorted them not to hasten the conflict, bidding them calmly and steadfastly resign themselves to God's will whatever the end. Despite these circumstances, the remaining friends were not disheartened, but went with women and children to the houses near Hujjat's.
There were 5 companies of 361 (19x19). 19 of each 5 (95 total) would raise the call and scatter the forces, paralyzing and crushing the enemy's spirit over a few days as they could not destroy the small band of Hujjat's companions.
As many were killed, officers left their posts, artillery captains abandoned their guns, and the rank and file was demoralized and exhausted, the Amír became weary of the coercive measures he had resorted to for discipline, efficiency, and vitality.
Fearing for his life as well as the Zanjánís, he admitted his weariness to his remaining officers and his impotence to instill the same spirit of renunciation animating the Bábís into his despairing men who believed themselves doomed to eternal damnation regardless of whether or not they won the war.
(571) They therefore decided to dig underground passages from their camp to below the companions' dwellings, blow them up, and obtain their unconditional surrender. For 1 month, in addition to filling the passages with explosives, they demolished remaining houses, clearing a path to Hujjat's residence on which they decided to fire (to speed up the process), collapsing 1 section.
Hujjat then warned his wife Khadíjih who was holding their baby Hádí that she and the baby might soon be taken captive. As she was venting her distress, a cannon-ball struck the room and killed her instantly while the baby at her breast fell into the brazier beside her and soon died of its injuries in the Zanjání mujtahid Mírzá Abu'l-Qásim's house.
Despite his deep grief, he didn't yield to idle sorrow, crying that he had foreseen his woes upon recognizing the Báb. He cried that as great as his sorrows had been, he was not only willing to suffer incomparably more but wished for a myriad lives and the riches of the world to sacrifice for Him. He also cried that his sufferings could not compare with the blessings bestowed by recognizing Him.
As the friends were indignant about this tragic loss and sought to avenge the victims' blood, he dissuaded them and exhorted them not to hasten the conflict, bidding them calmly and steadfastly resign themselves to God's will whatever the end.
Their numbers and area of security diminished while their sufferings increased.
After enduring pain from his wound for 19 days, Hujjat suddenly died amidst a prayer in which he had been prostrate on his face invoking the Báb's name.
His death was shocking and profoundly saddening. 2 companions Dín- Muhammad-Vazír and Mír Ridáy-i-Sardár interred him, before the enemy knew of his death, where neither his relatives nor friends could suspect. At midnight the body was brought to a room of Dín-Muhammad-Vazír and was buried. They then demolished the room to ensure the remains' safety from desecration and strove to maintain that spot's secrecy.
Over 500 women survivors gathered there right after his death. Only 200 vigorous men remained (the rest had died or were utterly incapacitated).
The enemy was emboldened upon learning of his death and strove with unprecedented fierceness, accompanied by drums, trumpets, and exultation of the populace, to wipe out the remaining companions.
The companions continued, despite his death, to face the enemy with undiminished zeal, and upon their attack, raised the cry to fight until all were dead or captured.
Amidst this massacre, signal was given for an unprecedented pillage, curbed only by the Amír-Túmán's orders to spare Hujjat's house, belongings, and kindred. Though he wished to obtain the Tihrán authorities advice as to what to do, he nor the governor could not restrain his men from violence as the Zanjání 'ulamás, who had lost much exertion, life, and reputation incited the populace to every imaginable outrage against the men's lives and women's honor. The sentinels at the entrance of where Hujjat had resided were driven away as the populace joined the army in plundering the property & attacking the few survivors.
Though no order or discipline existed amidst the confusion, the governor was able to induce the officers to gather the captives into Hájí Ghulám's house awaiting instructions from Tihrán. They were huddled there as sheep exposed to the severe cold of winter without roof, furniture, or food. The wives were taken to the mujtahid Mírzá Abu'l-Qásim's house to induce them to recant and be freed. The mujtahid had, however, with his wives', sisters', and daughters' aid, seized what they could carry and stripped them of garments, clothed them in meanest attire, and took for himself whatever valuables he could find. After untold hardships, the captives were allowed to join their relatives conditioned on their taking full responsibility for their future behavior while the rest were dispersed throughout neighboring villages where they were affectionately and genuinely received, though Hujjat's family was detained in Zanján awaiting instructions from Tihrán.
The wounded were placed in custody, the authorities likewise awaiting instructions from the capital as to their treatment. However, the cold and cruelties the wounded underwent killed them all in a few days.
The rest were delivered by the Amír-Túmán to the Karrúsí, Khamsih, and 'Iráqí regiments for execution. Despite their guarantee to spare the Bábís' lives, Muhammad Khán Biglíyirbigí, Amír Arslán Khán and the other commanders conducted them to the army's camp in a procession with drums and trumpets, and ordered 100 men gathered from amongst the different regiments (vying to participate) to place the prisoners in a row then ordered them to be bayoneted. These 76 remaining were deviously and vengefully pierced and mutilated with lances and spears.
As they sought to commit another bout of cruelty, Hájí Muhammad-Husayn (Abá-Basir's father) sprang to his feet and called the adhán with such fervid majesty that the multitude was thrilled and upon his words "Alláh-u-Akbar" the entire 'Iráqí regiment deserted their posts crying "Yá 'Alí!" as they fled in horror that the Amír-Túmán could deceive them to convince them of these people's disloyalty to the Imám 'Alí and kindred, vowing never the participate even should they all be killed.
Several captives were blown (by the remaining regiments) from guns; others were stripped naked, poured upon with ice-cold water and lashed severely; while others were smeared with treacle (molasses) and left to die in the snow (danced around by the women as the earlier captured women had been (God Passes By p. 46). They did not recant or let any expression or betrayal of anger or even discontent dispel their light and tranquility.
The Bábí leaders Sulaymán the shoemaker and Hájí Kázim Giltúghí were blown to pieces from mortars' mouths, having been tied to the loaded cannon' mouth (a "refinement" of English troops from this Asian invention, used during the revolt in India) and being torn to pieces (the size of these dependent on the amount of powder in the cannon).
After the execution, spectators flooded the field, some to bury a friend's body, others out of morbid curiosity. A Muslim, Valí-Muhammad, was reported to have come to his neighbor's body, not quite dead, announced his name and that he was his neighbor, and told him to ask if he needed anything. When the dying man stated he was thirsty, Valí-Muhammad returned with a large stone, told the dying man to open his mouth for water, then crushed his head.
The captives were re-sorted, placing chains around the necks of Mírzá Ridá (Hujjat's lieutenant) and all those of high-standing or importance, then shackling their hands and feet. Disregarding the royal command, they brought the captives to Tihrán to augment their triumph. The few unfortunate remaining were abandoned as the army returned to the capital forcing their prisoners to walk ahead of the victorious generals' horses.
On arriving, the Amír-Nizám sought to make an example by having Mírzá Ridá, Hájí Muhammad-'Alí and the surgeon Hájí Muhsin's veins slashed open. Though betraying no emotion upon learning of their sentence, it was reported that they declared that the Almighty would demand a more impressive and striking punishment for the authorities' lack of good faith in persecuting His saints than the normal consequences, and that the Amír would suffer the same death he inflicted on them. This later came true.
The remaining prisoners brought to Tihrán were doomed to rot in prison.
(577) Meanwhile the persecutors back in Zanján had, after the execution, sought Hujjat's body. Though unsuccessful at inducing any to disclose the spot through torture (pouring boiling oil on Áqá Dín-Muhammad though he remained silent), the governor (Sardár) asked Hujjat's 7-year-old son Áqá Husayn to be brought in. Through clever threats and insidious flattery, they succeeded in making him speak. He gently caressed him, declaring himself
(578) full of grief at his parents' afflictions, and that it was the Zanjání mujtahids who were responsible. He declared his willingness to give his father a befitting burial and to atone for the deeds committed against him.
Through gentle insinuations, he induced the child to reveal the secret, then had his men fetch the body then ordered the body to be dragged with a rope through the streets to the sound of drums and trumpets. For 3 days and nights, injuries were heaped on the body and was exposed to the people in the maydán (open public square). On the 3rd night, horsemen reportedly carried the corpse's remnants away to safety toward Qazvín.
Hujjat's kin were ordered to be conducted to Shíráz to the governor. They languished there in poverty and misery with their remaining possessions seized by the governor and condemned to seek shelter in a ruined and dilapidated house. Hujjat's youngest son, Mihdí, died of these sufferings and was buried amidst the ruins of what had been his shelter.
9 years later, Nabíl visited the scenes in Zanján at the fort where he could discern traces of carnage on its gates and walls (scene of their surrender), noting blood stains on the stones of what had been their barricades.
(579) No accurate estimate has been made of the number of participants in the prolonged struggle though a tentative list of names was made by Ismu'lláhu'l-Mím and Ismu'lláhu'l-Asad. Estimates of the martyrs varied from up to 1000 and above. One companion was reported to have recorded 1598 before his martyrdom and 202 estimated to fall after him (1800 total).
Nabíl's sources were Mírzá Muhammad-'Alíy-i-Tabíb-i-Zanjání, Abá-Basír, Siyyid Ashraf (all martyrs Nabíl knew) while the rest was based on Mullá Husayn-i-Zanjání's manuscript sent to Bahá'u'lláh gleaning all information about the connected events of that episode he could from different sources.
Siyyid Abú-Tálib-i-Shahmírzádí's written account sent to the Holy Land and the brief survey prepared by a believer Mírzá Haydar-'Alíy-i-Ardistání.
Nabíl also ascertained certain facts from some of the struggle's participants, Mullá Muhammad-Sádiq-i-Muqaddas, Mullá Mírzá Muhammad-i-Furúghí, and Hájí 'Abdu'l-Majíd (father of Badí' and martyr).
Nabíl obtained information on Vahíd's life and deeds from Rida'r-Rúh (one of Vahíd's intimate companions) while drawing on a detailed and carefully- investigated account sent to Bahá'u'lláh in the Holy Land by Mullá Shafí' of Nayríz for the later stages of the Nayríz struggle.
Nabíl expresses his hope that future generations would gather and preserve for posterity whatever gaps he failed to record, compiling an exhaustive and befitting account of these stirring events whose significance could but dimly be discerned. He begged his readers' indulgence for what he confessed to be the many gaps in his narrative.
The Declaration of the Báb's Mission
(Condensed Summary of Chapter 24)
Arrangement of Contents Headings for Chapter 24
Cross-References for Chapter 24