in motion. The nine months of unremitting endeavor exerted by His enemies, and particularly by Shaykh `Abdu'l-Husayn and his confederate Mírzá Buzurg Khán, were about to yield their fruit. Násiri'd-Dín Sháh and his ministers, on the one hand, and the Persian Ambassador in Constantinople, on the other, were incessantly urged to take immediate action to insure Bahá'u'lláh's removal from Baghdád. Through gross misrepresentation of the true situation and the dissemination of alarming reports a malignant and energetic enemy finally succeeded in persuading the Sháh to instruct his foreign minister, Mírzá Sa'íd Khán, to direct the Persian Ambassador at the Sublime Porte, Mírzá Husayn Khán, a close friend of `Alí Páshá, the Grand Vizir of the Sultán, and of Fu'ád Páshá, the Minister of foreign affairs, to induce Sultán `Abdu'l-`Azíz to order the immediate transfer of Bahá'u'lláh to a place remote from Baghdád, on the ground that His continued residence in that city, adjacent to Persian territory and close to so important a center of Shí'ah pilgrimage, constituted a direct menace to the security of Persia and its government.
Mírzá Sa'íd Khán, in his communication to the Ambassador, stigmatized the Faith as a "misguided and detestable sect," deplored Bahá'u'lláh's release from the Síyáh-Chál, and denounced Him as one who did not cease from "secretly corrupting and misleading foolish persons and ignorant weaklings." "In accordance with the royal command," he wrote, "I, your faithful friend, have been ordered ... to instruct you to seek, without delay, an appointment with their Excellencies, the Sadr-i-A'zam and the Minister of Foreign Affairs ... to request ... the removal of this source of mischief from a center like Baghdád, which is the meeting-place of many different peoples, and is situated near the frontiers of the provinces of Persia." In that same letter, quoting a celebrated verse, he writes: "`I see beneath the ashes the glow of fire, and it wants but little to burst into a blaze,'" thus betraying his fears and seeking to instill them into his correspondent.
Encouraged by the presence on the throne of a monarch who had delegated much of his powers to his ministers, and aided by certain foreign ambassadors and ministers in Constantinople, Mírzá Husayn Khán, by dint of much persuasion and the friendly pressure he brought to bear on these ministers, succeeded in securing the sanction of the Sultán for the transfer of Bahá'u'lláh and His companions (who had in the meantime been forced by circumstances to change their citizenship) to Constantinople. It is even reported that the first request the Persian authorities made of a friendly Power, after
the accession of the new Sultán to the throne, was for its active and prompt intervention in this matter.
It was on the fifth of Naw-Rúz (1863), while Bahá'u'lláh was celebrating that festival in the Mazrá'iy-i-Vashshásh, in the outskirts of Baghdád, and had just revealed the "Tablet of the Holy Mariner," whose gloomy prognostications had aroused the grave apprehensions of His Companions, that an emissary of Námiq Páshá arrived and delivered into His hands a communication requesting an interview between Him and the governor.
Already, as Nabíl has pointed out in his narrative, Bahá'u'lláh had, in the course of His discourses, during the last years of His sojourn in Baghdád, alluded to the period of trial and turmoil that was inexorably approaching, exhibiting a sadness and heaviness of heart which greatly perturbed those around Him. A dream which He had at that time, the ominous character of which could not be mistaken, served to confirm the fears and misgivings that had assailed His companions. "I saw," He wrote in a Tablet, "the Prophets and the Messengers gather and seat themselves around Me, moaning, weeping and loudly lamenting. Amazed, I inquired of them the reason, whereupon their lamentation and weeping waxed greater, and they said unto me: `We weep for Thee, O Most Great Mystery, O Tabernacle of Immortality!' They wept with such a weeping that I too wept with them. Thereupon the Concourse on high addressed Me saying: `...Erelong shalt Thou behold with Thine own eyes what no Prophet hath beheld.... Be patient, be patient.'... They continued addressing Me the whole night until the approach of dawn." "Oceans of sorrow," Nabíl affirms, "surged in the hearts of the listeners when the Tablet of the Holy Mariner was read aloud to them.... It was evident to every one that the chapter of Baghdád was about to be closed, and a new one opened, in its stead. No sooner had that Tablet been chanted than Bahá'u'lláh ordered that the tents which had been pitched should be folded up, and that all His companions should return to the city. While the tents were being removed He observed: `These tents may be likened to the trappings of this world, which no sooner are they spread out than the time cometh for them to be rolled up.' From these words of His they who heard them perceived that these tents would never again be pitched on that spot. They had not yet been taken away when the messenger arrived from Baghdád to deliver the afore-mentioned communication from the governor."
By the following day the Deputy-Governor had delivered to
Bahá'u'lláh in a mosque, in the neighborhood of the governor's house, `Alí Páshá's letter, addressed to Námiq Páshá, couched in courteous language, inviting Bahá'u'lláh to proceed, as a guest of the Ottoman government, to Constantinople, placing a sum of money at His disposal, and ordering a mounted escort to accompany Him for His protection. To this request Bahá'u'lláh gave His ready assent, but declined to accept the sum offered Him. On the urgent representations of the Deputy that such a refusal would offend the authorities, He reluctantly consented to receive the generous allowance set aside for His use, and distributed it, that same day, among the poor.
The effect upon the colony of exiles of this sudden intelligence was instantaneous and overwhelming. "That day," wrote an eyewitness, describing the reaction of the community to the news of Bahá'u'lláh's approaching departure, "witnessed a commotion associated with the turmoil of the Day of Resurrection. Methinks, the very gates and walls of the city wept aloud at their imminent separation from the Abhá Beloved. The first night mention was made of His intended departure His loved ones, one and all, renounced both sleep and food.... Not a soul amongst them could be tranquillized. Many had resolved that in the event of their being deprived of the bounty of accompanying Him, they would, without hesitation, kill themselves.... Gradually, however, through the words which He addressed them, and through His exhortations and His loving-kindness, they were calmed and resigned themselves to His good-pleasure." For every one of them, whether Arab or Persian, man or woman, child or adult, who lived in Baghdád, He revealed during those days, in His own hand, a separate Tablet. In most of these Tablets He predicted the appearance of the "Calf" and of the "Birds of the Night," allusions to those who, as anticipated in the Tablet of the Holy Mariner, and foreshadowed in the dream quoted above, were to raise the standard of rebellion and precipitate the gravest crisis in the history of the Faith.
Twenty-seven days after that mournful Tablet had been so unexpectedly revealed by Bahá'u'lláh, and the fateful communication, presaging His departure to Constantinople had been delivered into His hands, on a Wednesday afternoon (April 22, 1863), thirty-one days after Naw-Rúz, on the third of Dhi'l-Qádih, 1279 A.H., He set forth on the first stage of His four months' journey to the capital of the Ottoman Empire. That historic day, forever after designated as the first day of the Ridván Festival, the culmination of innumerable farewell visits which friends and acquaintances of every class
and denomination, had been paying him, was one the like of which the inhabitants of Baghdád had rarely beheld. A concourse of people of both sexes and of every age, comprising friends and strangers Arabs, Kurds and Persians, notables and clerics, officials and merchants, as well as many of the lower classes, the poor, the orphaned, the outcast, some surprised, others heartbroken, many tearful and apprehensive, a few impelled by curiosity or secret satisfaction, thronged the approaches of His house, eager to catch a final glimpse of One Who, for a decade, had, through precept and example, exercised so potent an influence on so large a number of the heterogeneous inhabitants of their city.
Leaving for the last time, amidst weeping and lamentation, His "Most Holy Habitation," out of which had "gone forth the breath of the All-Glorious," and from which had poured forth, in "ceaseless strains," the "melody of the All-Merciful," and dispensing on His way with a lavish hand a last alms to the poor He had so faithfully befriended, and uttering words of comfort to the disconsolate who besought Him on every side, He, at length, reached the banks of the river, and was ferried across, accompanied by His sons and amanuensis, to the Najíbíyyih Garden, situated on the opposite shore. "O My companions," He thus addressed the faithful band that surrounded Him before He embarked, "I entrust to your keeping this city of Baghdád, in the state ye now behold it, when from the eyes of friends and strangers alike, crowding its housetops, its streets and markets, tears like the rain of spring are flowing down, and I depart. With you it now rests to watch lest your deeds and conduct dim the flame of love that gloweth within the breasts of its inhabitants."
The muezzin had just raised the afternoon call to prayer when Bahá'u'lláh entered the Najíbíyyih Garden, where He tarried twelve days before His final departure from the city. There His friends and companions, arriving in successive waves, attained His presence and bade Him, with feelings of profound sorrow, their last farewell. Outstanding among them was the renowned Álúsí, the Muftí of Baghdád, who, with eyes dimmed with tears, execrated the name of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, whom he deemed to be primarily responsible for so unmerited a banishment. "I have ceased to regard him," he openly asserted, "as Násiri'd-Dín (the helper of the Faith), but consider him rather to be its wrecker." Another distinguished visitor was the governor himself, Námiq Páshá, who, after expressing in the most respectful terms his regret at the developments which had precipitated Bahá'u'lláh's departure, and assuring Him of his readiness to
aid Him in any way he could, handed to the officer appointed to accompany Him a written order, commanding the governors of the provinces through which the exiles would be passing to extend to them the utmost consideration. "Whatever you require," he, after profuse apologies, informed Bahá'u'lláh, "you have but to command. We are ready to carry it out." "Extend thy consideration to Our loved ones," was the reply to his insistent and reiterated offers, "and deal with them with kindness"--a request to which he gave his warm and unhesitating assent.
Small wonder that, in the face of so many evidences of deep-seated devotion, sympathy and esteem, so strikingly manifested by high and low alike, from the time Bahá'u'lláh announced His contemplated journey to the day of His departure from the Najíbíyyih Garden--small wonder that those who had so tirelessly sought to secure the order for His banishment, and had rejoiced at the success of their efforts, should now have bitterly regretted their act. "Such hath been the interposition of God," `Abdu'l-Bahá, in a letter written by Him from that garden, with reference to these enemies, affirms, "that the joy evinced by them hath been turned to chagrin and sorrow, so much so that the Persian consul-general in Baghdád regrets exceedingly the plans and plots the schemers had devised. Námiq Páshá himself, on the day he called on Him (Bahá'u'lláh) stated: `Formerly they insisted upon your departure. Now, however, they are even more insistent that you should remain.'"
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