it in its amended form before a scandalized congregation in Shíráz, and was instantly arrested, reviled, stripped of his garments, and scourged with a thousand lashes. The villainous Husayn Khán, the Nizámu'd-Dawlih, the governor of Fárs, who had read the challenge thrown out in the Qayyúmu'l-Asmá, having ordered that Mullá Sádiq together with Quddús and another believer be summarily and publicly punished, caused their beards to be burned, their noses pierced, and threaded with halters; then, having been led through the streets in this disgraceful condition, they were expelled from the city.
The people of Shíráz were by that time wild with excitement. A violent controversy was raging in the masjids, the madrisihs, the bazaars, and other public places. Peace and security were gravely imperiled. Fearful, envious, thoroughly angered, the mullás were beginning to perceive the seriousness of their position. The governor, greatly alarmed, ordered the Báb to be arrested. He was brought to Shíráz under escort, and, in the presence of Husayn Khán, was severely rebuked, and so violently struck in the face that His turban fell to the ground. Upon the intervention of the Imám-Jum'ih He was released on parole, and entrusted to the custody of His maternal uncle Hájí Mírzá Siyyid `Alí. A brief lull ensued, enabling the captive Youth to celebrate the Naw-Rúz of that and the succeeding year in an atmosphere of relative tranquillity in the company of His mother, His wife, and His uncle. Meanwhile the fever that had seized His followers was communicating itself to the members of the clergy and to the merchant classes, and was invading the higher circles of society. Indeed, a wave of passionate inquiry had swept the whole country, and unnumbered congregations were listening with wonder to the testimonies eloquently and fearlessly related by the Báb's itinerant messengers.
The commotion had assumed such proportions that the Sháh, unable any longer to ignore the situation, delegated the trusted Siyyid Yahyáy-i-Darábí, surnamed Vahíd, one of the most erudite, eloquent and influential of his subjects--a man who had committed to memory no less than thirty thousand traditions--to investigate and report to him the true situation. Broad-minded, highly imaginative, zealous by nature, intimately associated with the court, he, in the course of three interviews, was completely won over by the arguments and personality of the Báb. Their first interview centered around the metaphysical teachings of Islám, the most obscure passages of the Qur'án, and the traditions and prophecies of the Imáms. In
the course of the second interview Vahíd was astounded to find that the questions which he had intended to submit for elucidation had been effaced from his retentive memory, and yet, to his utter amazement, he discovered that the Báb was answering the very questions he had forgotten. During the third interview the circumstances attending the revelation of the Báb's commentary on the Súrah of Kawthar, comprising no less than two thousand verses, so overpowered the delegate of the Sháh that he, contenting himself with a mere written report to the Court Chamberlain, arose forthwith to dedicate his entire life and resources to the service of a Faith that was to requite him with the crown of martyrdom during the Nayríz upheaval. He who had firmly resolved to confute the arguments of an obscure siyyid of Shíráz, to induce Him to abandon His ideas, and to conduct Him to Tihrán as an evidence of the ascendancy he had achieved over Him, was made to feel, as he himself later acknowledged, as "lowly as the dust beneath His feet." Even Husayn Khán, who had been Vahíd's host during his stay in Shíráz, was compelled to write to the Sháh and express the conviction that his Majesty's illustrious delegate had become a Bábí.
Another famous advocate of the Cause of the Báb, even fiercer in zeal than Vahíd, and almost as eminent in rank, was Mullá Muhammad-`Alíy-i-Zanjání, surnamed Hujjat. An Akhbarí, a vehement controversialist, of a bold and independent temper of mind, impatient of restraint, a man who had dared condemn the whole ecclesiastical hierarchy from the Abváb-i-Arbá'ih down to the humblest mullá, he had more than once, through his superior talents and fervid eloquence, publicly confounded his orthodox Shí'ah adversaries. Such a person could not remain indifferent to a Cause that was producing so grave a cleavage among his countrymen. The disciple he sent to Shíráz to investigate the matter fell immediately under the spell of the Báb. The perusal of but a page of the Qayyúmu'l-Asmá, brought by that messenger to Hujjat, sufficed to effect such a transformation within him that he declared, before the assembled `ulamás of his native city, that should the Author of that work pronounce day to be night and the sun to be a shadow he would unhesitatingly uphold his verdict.
Yet another recruit to the ever-swelling army of the new Faith was the eminent scholar, Mírzá Ahmad-i-Azghandí, the most learned, the wisest and the most outstanding among the `ulamás of Khurásán, who, in anticipation of the advent of the promised Qá'im, had compiled above twelve thousand traditions and prophecies concerning the
time and character of the expected Revelation, had circulated them among His fellow-disciples, and had encouraged them to quote them extensively to all congregations and in all meetings.
While the situation was steadily deteriorating in the provinces, the bitter hostility of the people of Shíráz was rapidly moving towards a climax. Husayn Khán, vindictive, relentless, exasperated by the reports of his sleepless agents that his Captive's power and fame were hourly growing, decided to take immediate action. It is even reported that his accomplice, Hájí Mírzá Aqásí, had ordered him to kill secretly the would-be disrupter of the state and the wrecker of its established religion. By order of the governor the chief constable, `Abdu'l-Hamíd Khán, scaled, in the dead of night, the wall and entered the house of Hájí Mírzá Siyyid `Alí, where the Báb was confined, arrested Him, and confiscated all His books and documents. That very night, however, took place an event which, in its dramatic suddenness, was no doubt providentially designed to confound the schemes of the plotters, and enable the Object of their hatred to prolong His ministry and consummate His Revelation. An outbreak of cholera, devastating in its virulence, had, since midnight, already smitten above a hundred people. The dread of the plague had entered every heart, and the inhabitants of the stricken city were, amid shrieks of pain and grief, fleeing in confusion. Three of the governor's domestics had already died. Members of his family were lying dangerously ill. In his despair he, leaving the dead unburied, had fled to a garden in the outskirts of the city. `Abdu'l-Hamíd Khán, confronted by this unexpected development, decided to conduct the Báb to His own home. He was appalled, upon his arrival, to learn that his son lay in the death-throes of the plague. In his despair he threw himself at the feet of the Báb, begged to be forgiven, adjured Him not to visit upon the son the sins of the father, and pledged his word to resign his post, and never again to accept such a position. Finding that his prayer had been answered, he addressed a plea to the governor begging him to release his Captive, and thereby deflect the fatal course of this dire visitation. Husayn Khán acceded to his request, and released his Prisoner on condition of His quitting the city.
Miraculously preserved by an almighty and watchful Providence, the Báb proceeded to Isfahán (September, 1846), accompanied by Siyyid Kázim-i-Zanjání. Another lull ensued, a brief period of comparative tranquillity during which the Divine processes which had been set in motion gathered further momentum, precipitating a series of events leading to the imprisonment of the Báb in the
fortresses of Máh-Ku and Chihríq, and culminating in His martyrdom in the barrack-square of Tabríz. Well aware of the impending trials that were to afflict Him, the Báb had, ere His final separation from His family, bequeathed to His mother and His wife all His possessions, had confided to the latter the secret of what was to befall Him, and revealed for her a special prayer the reading of which, He assured her, would resolve her perplexities and allay her sorrows. The first forty days of His sojourn in Isfahán were spent as the guest of Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad, the Sultánu'l-`Ulamá, the Imám-Jum'ih, one of the principal ecclesiastical dignitaries of the realm, in accordance with the instructions of the governor of the city, Manúchihr Khán, the Mu Tamídu'd-Dawlih, who had received from the Báb a letter requesting him to appoint the place where He should dwell. He was ceremoniously received, and such was the spell He cast over the people of that city that, on one occasion, after His return from the public bath, an eager multitude clamored for the water that had been used for His ablutions. So magic was His charm that His host, forgetful of the dignity of his high rank, was wont to wait personally upon Him. It was at the request of this same prelate that the Báb, one night, after supper, revealed His well-known commentary on the Súrah of Va'l-`Asr. Writing with astonishing rapidity, He, in a few hours, had devoted to the exposition of the significance of only the first letter of that Súrah--a letter which Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsá'í had stressed, and which Bahá'u'lláh refers to in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas-- verses that equalled in number a third of the Qur'án, a feat that called forth such an outburst of reverent astonishment from those who witnessed it that they arose and kissed the hem of His robe.
The tumultuous enthusiasm of the people of Isfahán was meanwhile visibly increasing. Crowds of people, some impelled by curiosity, others eager to discover the truth, still others anxious to be healed of their infirmities, flocked from every quarter of the city to the house of the Imám-Jum'ih. The wise and judicious Manúchihr Khán could not resist the temptation of visiting so strange, so intriguing a Personage. Before a brilliant assemblage of the most accomplished divines he, a Georgian by origin and a Christian by birth, requested the Báb to expound and demonstrate the truth of Muhammad's specific mission. To this request, which those present had felt compelled to decline, the Báb readily responded. In less than two hours, and in the space of fifty pages, He had not only revealed a minute, a vigorous and original dissertation on this noble theme, but had also linked it with both the coming of the Qá'im and the return
of the Imám Husayn--an exposition that prompted Manúchihr Khán to declare before that gathering his faith in the Prophet of Islám, as well as his recognition of the supernatural gifts with which the Author of so convincing a treatise was endowed.
These evidences of the growing ascendancy exercised by an unlearned Youth on the governor and the people of a city rightly regarded as one of the strongholds of Shí'ah Islám, alarmed the ecclesiastical authorities. Refraining from any act of open hostility which they knew full well would defeat their purpose, they sought, by encouraging the circulation of the wildest rumors, to induce the Grand Vizir of the Sháh to save a situation that was growing hourly more acute and menacing. The popularity enjoyed by the Báb, His personal prestige, and the honors accorded Him by His countrymen, had now reached their high watermark. The shadows of an impending doom began to fast gather about Him. A series of tragedies from then on followed in rapid sequence destined to culminate in His own death and the apparent extinction of the influence of His Faith.
The overbearing and crafty Hájí Mírzá Aqásí, fearful lest the sway of the Báb encompass his sovereign and thus seal his own doom, was aroused as never before. Prompted by a suspicion that the Báb possessed the secret sympathies of the Mu'tamíd, and well aware of the confidence reposed in him by the Sháh, he severely upbraided the Imám-Jum'ih for the neglect of his sacred duty. He, at the same time, lavished, in several letters, his favors upon the `ulamás of Isfahán, whom he had hitherto ignored. From the pulpits of that city an incited clergy began to hurl vituperation and calumny upon the Author of what was to them a hateful and much to be feared heresy. The Sháh himself was induced to summon the Báb to his capital. Manúchihr Khán, bidden to arrange for His departure, decided to transfer His residence temporarily to his own home. Meanwhile the mujtahids and `ulamás, dismayed at the signs of so pervasive an influence, summoned a gathering which issued an abusive document signed and sealed by the ecclesiastical leaders of the city, denouncing the Báb as a heretic and condemning Him to death. Even the Imám-Jum'ih was constrained to add his written testimony that the Accused was devoid of reason and judgment. The Mu'tamíd, in his great embarrassment, and in order to appease the rising tumult, conceived a plan whereby an increasingly restive populace were made to believe that the Báb had left for Tihrán, while he succeeded in insuring for Him a brief respite of four months in the privacy of the Imárat-i-Khurshíd, the governor's private residence in Isfahán. It
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