Memorials of the Faithful
The distinguished `Alí-'Askar
was a merchant from
Tabríz. He was much respected in Ádhirbayján by all who
knew him, and recognized for godliness and trustworthiness,
for piety and strong faith. The people of Tabríz, one
and all, acknowledged his excellence and praised his character
and way of life, his qualities and talents. He was one
of the earliest believers, and one of the most notable.
When the Trumpet first sounded, he fainted away, and
at the second blast, he was awakened to new life.[Qur'án 39:68-69: "And there shall be a blast on the trumpet, and all who are in the heavens and all who are in the earth shall swoon away, save those whom God shall vouchsafe to live. Then shall there be another blast on it, and lo! arising they shall gaze around them: and the earth shall shine with the light of her Lord..."] He became
a candle burning with the love of God, a goodly tree
in the Abhá gardens. He led all his household, his other
kindred and his friends to the Faith, and successfully
rendered many services; but the tyranny of the wicked
brought him to an agonizing pass, and he was beset by new afflictions every day. Still, he did not slacken and was not dispirited; on the contrary, his faith, his certitude and self-sacrifice
increased. Finally he could endure his homeland no
more. Accompanied by his family, he arrived in Adrianople,
and here, in financial straits, but content, he spent his
days, with dignity, patience, acquiescence, and offering
Then he took a little merchandise with him from
Adrianople, and left for the city of Jum'ih-Bazar, to earn
his livelihood. What he had with him was trifling, but still,
it was carried off by thieves. When the Persian Consul
learned of this he presented a document to the Government,
naming an enormous sum as the value of the stolen
goods. By chance the thieves were caught and proved to
be in possession of considerable funds. It was decided to
investigate the case. The Consul called in Hájí `Alí-'Askar
and told him: "These thieves are very rich. In my report
to the Government, I wrote that the amount of the theft
was great. Therefore you must attend the trial and testify
conformably to what I wrote."
The Hájí replied: "Your Honor, Khán, the stolen
goods amounted to very little. How can I report something
that is not true? When they question me, I will give the
facts exactly as they are. I consider this my duty, and only
"Hájí," said the Consul, "We have a golden opportunity
here; you and I can both profit by it. Don't let such a once-in-a-lifetime
chance slip through your hands."
The Hájí answered: "Khán, how would I square it with
God? Let me be. I shall tell the truth and nothing but the
The Consul was beside himself. He began to threaten
and belabor `Alí-'Askar. "Do you want to make me out a
liar?" he cried. "Do you want to make me a laughingstock?
I will jail you; I will have you banished; there is no torment I will spare you. This very instant I will hand you over to the police, and I will tell them that you are an
enemy of the state, and that you are to be manacled and
taken to the Persian frontier."
The Hájí only smiled. "Jináb-i-Khan," he said. "I have
given up my life for the truth. I have nothing else. You
are telling me to lie and bear false witness. Do with me
as you please; I will not turn my back on what is right."
When the Consul saw that there was no way to make
`Alí-'Askar testify to a falsehood, he said: "It is better, then,
for you to leave this place, so that I can inform the Government
that the owner of the merchandise is no longer
available and has gone away. Otherwise I shall be disgraced."
The Hájí returned to Adrianople, and spoke not a word
as to his stolen goods, but the matter became public knowledge
and caused considerable surprise.
That fine and rare old man was taken captive in Adrianople
along with the rest, and he accompanied the Blessed
Beauty to the Akká fortress, this prison-house of sorrows.
With all his family, he was jailed in the path of God for a
period of years; and he was always offering thanks, because
the prison was a palace to him, and captivity a reason
to rejoice. In all those years he was never known to express
himself except in thankfulness and praise. The greater the
tyranny of the oppressors, the happier he was. Time and
again Bahá'u'lláh was heard to speak of him with loving
kindness, and He would say: "I am pleased with him."
This man, who was spirit personified, remained constant,
true, and joyful to the end. When some years had passed,
he exchanged this world of dust for the Kingdom that is
undefiled, and he left powerful influences behind.
As a rule, he was the close companion of `Abdu'l-Baha.
One day, at the beginning of our time in the Prison, I
hurried to the corner of the barracks where he lived--the cell that was his shabby nest. He was lying there, running a high fever, out of his head. On his right side lay his wife,
shaking and trembling with chills. To his left was his
daughter, Fátimih, burning up with typhus. Beyond them
his son, Husayn-Aqa, was down with scarlet fever; he had
forgotten how to speak Persian, and he kept crying out in
Turkish, "My insides are on fire!" At the father's feet lay
the other daughter, deep in her sickness, and along the
side of the wall was his brother, Mashhadí Fattah, raving
and delirious. In this condition, `Alí-'Askar's lips were moving:
he was returning thanks to God, and expressing joy.
Praise be to God! He died in the Most Great Prison, still
patient and thankful, still with dignity and firm in his
faith. He rose up to the retreats of the compassionate Lord.
Upon him be the glory of the All-Glorious; to him be
salutations and praise: upon him be mercy and forgiveness
forever and ever.
Memorials of the Faithful
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