and the lives of all who bear this Name, this Divine Fire would never be quenched. His Cause will rather encompass all the kings of the earth, nay all that hath been created from water and clay.... Whatever may yet befall Us, great shall be our gain, and manifest the loss wherewith they shall be afflicted."
Pursuant to the peremptory orders issued for the immediate departure of the already twice banished exiles, Bahá'u'lláh, His family, and His companions, some riding in wagons, others mounted on pack animals, with their belongings piled in carts drawn by oxen, set out, accompanied by Turkish officers, on a cold December morning, amidst the weeping of the friends they were leaving behind, on their twelve-day journey, across a bleak and windswept country, to a city characterized by Bahá'u'lláh as "the place which none entereth except such as have rebelled against the authority of the sovereign." "They expelled Us," is His own testimony in the Súriy-i-Mulúk, "from thy city (Constantinople) with an abasement with which no abasement on earth can compare." "Neither My family, nor those who accompanied Me," He further states, "had the necessary raiment to protect them from the cold in that freezing weather." And again: "The eyes of Our enemies wept over Us, and beyond them those of every discerning person." "A banishment," laments Nabíl, "endured with such meekness that the pen sheddeth tears when recounting it, and the page is ashamed to bear its description." "A cold of such intensity," that same chronicler records, "prevailed that year, that nonagenarians could not recall its like. In some regions, in both Turkey and Persia, animals succumbed to its severity and perished in the snows. The upper reaches of the Euphrates, in Ma'dan-Nuqrih, were covered with ice for several days--an unprecedented phenomenon-- while in Díyár-Bakr the river froze over for no less than forty days." "To obtain water from the springs," one of the exiles of Adrianople recounts, "a great fire had to be lighted in their immediate neighborhood, and kept burning for a couple of hours before they thawed out."
Traveling through rain and storm, at times even making night marches, the weary travelers, after brief halts at Kúchík-Chakmáchih, Buyuk-Chakmáchih, Salvárí, Birkás, and Bábá-Iskí, arrived at their destination, on the first of Rajab 1280 A.H. (December 12, 1863), and were lodged in the Khán-i-`Arab, a two-story caravanserai, near the house of `Izzat-Áqá. Three days later, Bahá'u'lláh and His family were consigned to a house suitable only for summer habitation, in the Murádíyyih quarter, near the Takyíy-i-Mawlaví, and were moved
again, after a week, to another house, in the vicinity of a mosque in that same neighborhood. About six months later they transferred to more commodious quarters, known as the house of Amru'lláh (House of God's command) situated on the northern side of the mosque of Sultán Salím.
Thus closes the opening scene of one of the most dramatic episodes in the ministry of Bahá'u'lláh. The curtain now rises on what is admittedly the most turbulent and critical period of the first Bahá'í century--a period that was destined to precede the most glorious phase of that ministry, the proclamation of His Message to the world and its rulers.
The Rebellion of Mírzá Yahyá and the Proclamation
of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission in Adrianople
A twenty-year-old Faith had just begun to recover from a series of successive blows when a crisis of the first magnitude overtook it and shook it to its roots. Neither the tragic martyrdom of the Báb nor the ignominious attempt on the life of the sovereign, nor its bloody aftermath, nor Bahá'u'lláh's humiliating banishment from His native land, nor even His two-year withdrawal to Kurdistán, devastating though they were in their consequences, could compare in gravity with this first major internal convulsion which seized a newly rearisen community, and which threatened to cause an irreparable breach in the ranks of its members. More odious than the unrelenting hostility which Abú-Jahl, the uncle of Muhammad, had exhibited, more shameful than the betrayal of Jesus Christ by His disciple, Judas Iscariot, more perfidious than the conduct of the sons of Jacob towards Joseph their brother, more abhorrent than the deed committed by one of the sons of Noah, more infamous than even the criminal act perpetrated by Cain against Abel, the monstrous behavior of Mírzá Yahyá, one of the half-brothers of Bahá'u'lláh, the nominee of the Báb, and recognized chief of the Bábí community, brought in its wake a period of travail which left its mark on the fortunes of the Faith for no less than half a century. This supreme crisis Bahá'u'lláh Himself designated as the AyyÁM-i-Shidád (Days of Stress), during which "the most grievous veil" was torn asunder, and the "most great separation" was irrevocably effected. It immensely gratified and emboldened its external enemies, both civil and ecclesiastical, played into their hands, and evoked their unconcealed derision. It perplexed and confused the friends and supporters of Bahá'u'lláh, and seriously damaged the prestige of the Faith in the eyes of its western admirers. It had been brewing ever since the early days of Bahá'u'lláh's sojourn in Baghdád, was temporarily suppressed by the creative forces which, under His as yet unproclaimed leadership, reanimated a disintegrating community, and finally broke out, in all its violence, in the years immediately preceding the proclamation of His Message. It brought incalculable sorrow to Bahá'u'lláh,
visibly aged Him, and inflicted, through its repercussions, the heaviest blow ever sustained by Him in His lifetime. It was engineered throughout by the tortuous intrigues and incessant machinations of that same diabolical Siyyid Muhammad, that vile whisperer who, disregarding Bahá'u'lláh's advice, had insisted on accompanying Him to Constantinople and Adrianople, and was now redoubling his efforts, with unrelaxing vigilance, to bring it to a head.
Mírzá Yahyá had, ever since the return of Bahá'u'lláh from Sulaymáníyyih, either chosen to maintain himself in an inglorious seclusion in his own house, or had withdrawn, whenever danger threatened, to such places of safety as Hillih and Basra. To the latter town he had fled, disguised as a Baghdád Jew, and become a shoe merchant. So great was his terror that he is reported to have said on one occasion: "Whoever claims to have seen me, or to have heard my voice, I pronounce an infidel." On being informed of Bahá'u'lláh's impending departure for Constantinople, he at first hid himself in the garden of Huvaydar, in the vicinity of Baghdád, meditating meanwhile on the advisability of fleeing either to Abyssinia, India or some other country. Refusing to heed Bahá'u'lláh's advice to proceed to Persia, and there disseminate the writings of the Báb, he sent a certain Hájí Muhammad Kázim, who resembled him, to the government-house to procure for him a passport in the name of Mírzá Alíy-i-Kirmánsháhí, and left Baghdád, abandoning the writings there, and proceeded in disguise, accompanied by an Arab Bábí, named Záhir, to Mosul, where he joined the exiles who were on their way to Constantinople.
A constant witness of the ever deepening attachment of the exiles to Bahá'u'lláh and of their amazing veneration for Him; fully aware of the heights to which his Brother's popularity had risen in Baghdád, in the course of His journey to Constantinople, and later through His association with the notables and governors of Adrianople; incensed by the manifold evidences of the courage, the dignity, and independence which that Brother had demonstrated in His dealings with the authorities in the capital; provoked by the numerous Tablets which the Author of a newly-established Dispensation had been ceaselessly revealing; allowing himself to be duped by the enticing prospects of unfettered leadership held out to him by Siyyid Muhammad, the Antichrist of the Bahá'í Revelation, even as Muhammad Sháh had been misled by the Antichrist of the Bábí Revelation, Hájí Mírzá Aqásí; refusing to be admonished by prominent members of the community who advised him, in writing, to exercise wisdom and
restraint; forgetful of the kindness and counsels of Bahá'u'lláh, who, thirteen years his senior, had watched over his early youth and manhood; emboldened by the sin-covering eye of his Brother, Who, on so many occasions, had drawn a veil over his many crimes and follies, this arch-breaker of the Covenant of the Báb, spurred on by his mounting jealousy and impelled by his passionate love of leadership, was driven to perpetrate such acts as defied either concealment or toleration.
Irremediably corrupted through his constant association with Siyyid Muhammad, that living embodiment of wickedness, cupidity and deceit, he had already in the absence of Bahá'u'lláh from Baghdád, and even after His return from Sulaymáníyyih, stained the annals of the Faith with acts of indelible infamy. His corruption, in scores of instances, of the text of the Báb's writings; the blasphemous addition he made to the formula of the adhán by the introduction of a passage in which he identified himself with the Godhead; his insertion of references in those writings to a succession in which he nominated himself and his descendants as heirs of the Báb; the vacillation and apathy he had betrayed when informed of the tragic death which his Master had suffered; his condemnation to death of all the Mirrors of the Bábí Dispensation, though he himself was one of those Mirrors; his dastardly act in causing the murder of Dayyán, whom he feared and envied; his foul deed in bringing about, during the absence of Bahá'u'lláh from Baghdád, the assassination of Mírzá `Alí-Akbar, the Báb's cousin; and, most heinous of all, his unspeakably repugnant violation, during that same period, of the honor of the Báb Himself-- all these, as attested by Aqáy-i-Kalím, and reported by Nabíl in his Narrative, were to be thrown into a yet more lurid light by further acts the perpetration of which were to seal irretrievably his doom.
Desperate designs to poison Bahá'u'lláh and His companions, and thereby reanimate his own defunct leadership, began, approximately a year after their arrival in Adrianople, to agitate his mind. Well aware of the erudition of his half-brother, Aqáy-i-Kalím, in matters pertaining to medicine, he, under various pretexts, sought enlightenment from him regarding the effects of certain herbs and poisons, and then began, contrary to his wont, to invite Bahá'u'lláh to his home, where, one day, having smeared His tea-cup with a substance he had concocted, he succeeded in poisoning Him sufficiently to produce a serious illness which lasted no less than a month, and which was accompanied by severe pains and high fever, the aftermath of which left Bahá'u'lláh with a shaking hand till the end of His life.
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