So grave was His condition that a foreign doctor, named Shíshmán, was called in to attend Him. The doctor was so appalled by His livid hue that he deemed His case hopeless, and, after having fallen at His feet, retired from His presence without prescribing a remedy. A few days later that doctor fell ill and died. Prior to his death Bahá'u'lláh had intimated that doctor Shíshmán had sacrificed his life for Him. To Mírzá Áqá Ján, sent by Bahá'u'lláh to visit him, the doctor had stated that God had answered his prayers, and that after his death a certain Dr. Chupán, whom he knew to be reliable, should, whenever necessary, be called in his stead.
On another occasion this same Mírzá Yahyá had, according to the testimony of one of his wives, who had temporarily deserted him and revealed the details of the above-mentioned act, poisoned the well which provided water for the family and companions of Bahá'u'lláh, in consequence of which the exiles manifested strange symptoms of illness. He even had, gradually and with great circumspection, disclosed to one of the companions, Ustád Muhammad-`Alíy-i-Salmání, the barber, on whom he had lavished great marks of favor, his wish that he, on some propitious occasion, when attending Bahá'u'lláh in His bath, should assassinate Him. "So enraged was Ustád Muhammad-`Alí," Aqáy-i-Kalím, recounting this episode to Nabíl in Adrianople, has stated, "when apprized of this proposition, that he felt a strong desire to kill Mírzá Yahyá on the spot, and would have done so but for his fear of Bahá'u'lláh's displeasure. I happened to be the first person he encountered as he came out of the bath weeping.... I eventually succeeded, after much persuasion, in inducing him to return to the bath and complete his unfinished task." Though ordered subsequently by Bahá'u'lláh not to divulge this occurrence to any one, the barber was unable to hold his peace and betrayed the secret, plunging thereby the community into great consternation. "When the secret nursed in his (Mírzá Yahyá) bosom was revealed by God," Bahá'u'lláh Himself affirms, "he disclaimed such an intention, and imputed it to that same servant (Ustád Muhammad-`Alí)."
The moment had now arrived for Him Who had so recently, both verbally and in numerous Tablets, revealed the implications of the claims He had advanced, to acquaint formally the one who was the nominee of the Báb with the character of His Mission. Mírzá Áqá Ján was accordingly commissioned to bear to Mírzá Yahyá the newly revealed Súriy-i-`Amr, which unmistakably affirmed those claims, to read aloud to him its contents, and demand an unequivocal and conclusive reply. Mírzá Yahyá's request for a one day respite,
during which he could meditate his answer, was granted. The only reply, however, that was forthcoming was a counter-declaration, specifying the hour and the minute in which he had been made the recipient of an independent Revelation, necessitating the unqualified submission to him of the peoples of the earth in both the East and the West.
So presumptuous an assertion, made by so perfidious an adversary to the envoy of the Bearer of so momentous a Revelation was the signal for the open and final rupture between Bahá'u'lláh and Mírzá Yahyá--a rupture that marks one of the darkest dates in Bahá'í history. Wishing to allay the fierce animosity that blazed in the bosom of His enemies, and to assure to each one of the exiles a complete freedom to choose between Him and them, Bahá'u'lláh withdrew with His family to the house of Ridá Big (Shavval 22, 1282 A.H.), which was rented by His order, and refused, for two months, to associate with either friend or stranger, including His own companions. He instructed Aqáy-i-Kalím to divide all the furniture, bedding, clothing and utensils that were to be found in His home, and send half to the house of Mírzá Yahyá; to deliver to him certain relics he had long coveted, such as the seals, rings, and manuscripts in the handwriting of the Báb; and to insure that he received his full share of the allowance fixed by the government for the maintenance of the exiles and their families. He, moreover, directed Aqáy-i-Kalím to order to attend to Mírzá Yahyá's shopping, for several hours a day, any one of the companions whom he himself might select, and to assure him that whatever would henceforth be received in his name from Persia would be delivered into his own hands.
"That day," Aqáy-i-Kalím is reported to have informed Nabíl, "witnessed a most great commotion. All the companions lamented in their separation from the Blessed Beauty." "Those days," is the written testimony of one of those companions, "were marked by tumult and confusion. We were sore-perplexed, and greatly feared lest we be permanently deprived of the bounty of His presence."
This grief and perplexity were, however, destined to be of short duration. The calumnies with which both Mírzá Yahyá and Siyyid Muhammad now loaded their letters, which they disseminated in Persia and Iraq, as well as the petitions, couched in obsequious language, which the former had addressed to Khurshíd Páshá, the governor of Adrianople, and to his assistant Azíz Páshá, impelled Bahá'u'lláh to emerge from His retirement. He was soon after informed that this same brother had despatched one of his wives to the
government house to complain that her husband had been cheated of his rights, and that her children were on the verge of starvation-- an accusation that spread far and wide and, reaching Constantinople, became, to Bahá'u'lláh's profound distress, the subject of excited discussion and injurious comment in circles that had previously been greatly impressed by the high standard which His noble and dignified behavior had set in that city. Siyyid Muhammad journeyed to the capital, begged the Persian Ambassador, the Mushíru'd-Dawlih, to allot Mírzá Yahyá and himself a stipend, accused Bahá'u'lláh of sending an agent to assassinate Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, and spared no effort to heap abuse and calumny on One Who had, for so long and so patiently, forborne with him, and endured in silence the enormities of which he had been guilty.
After a stay of about one year in the house of Ridá Big Bahá'u'lláh returned to the house He had occupied before His withdrawal from His companions, and thence, after three months, He transferred His residence to the house of `Izzat Áqá, in which He continued to live until His departure from Adrianople. It was in this house, in the month of Jamádiyu'l-Avval 1284 A.H. (Sept. 1867) that an event of the utmost significance occurred, which completely discomfited Mírzá Yahyá and his supporters, and proclaimed to friend and foe alike Bahá'u'lláh's triumph over them. A certain Mír Muhammad, a Bábí of Shíráz, greatly resenting alike the claims and the cowardly seclusion of Mírzá Yahyá, succeeded in forcing Siyyid Muhammad to induce him to meet Bahá'u'lláh face to face, so that a discrimination might be publicly effected between the true and the false. Foolishly assuming that his illustrious Brother would never countenance such a proposition, Mírzá Yahyá appointed the mosque of Sultán Salím as the place for their encounter. No sooner had Bahá'u'lláh been informed of this arrangement than He set forth, on foot, in the heat of midday, and accompanied by this same Mír Muhammad, for the afore-mentioned mosque, which was situated in a distant part of the city, reciting, as He walked, through the streets and markets, verses, in a voice and in a manner that greatly astonished those who saw and heard Him.
"O Muhammad!", are some of the words He uttered on that memorable occasion, as testified by Himself in a Tablet, "He Who is the Spirit hath, verily, issued from His habitation, and with Him have come forth the souls of God's chosen ones and the realities of His Messengers. Behold, then, the dwellers of the realms on high above Mine head, and all the testimonies of the Prophets in My grasp.
Say: Were all the divines, all the wise men, all the kings and rulers on earth to gather together, I, in very truth, would confront them, and would proclaim the verses of God, the Sovereign, the Almighty, the All-Wise. I am He Who feareth no one, though all who are in heaven and all who are on earth rise up against me.... This is Mine hand which God hath turned white for all the worlds to behold. This is My staff; were We to cast it down, it would, of a truth, swallow up all created things." Mír Muhammad, who had been sent ahead to announce Bahá'u'lláh's arrival, soon returned, and informed Him that he who had challenged His authority wished, owing to unforeseen circumstances, to postpone for a day or two the interview. Upon His return to His house Bahá'u'lláh revealed a Tablet, wherein He recounted what had happened, fixed the time for the postponed interview, sealed the Tablet with His seal, entrusted it to Nabíl, and instructed him to deliver it to one of the new believers, Mullá Muhammad-i-Tabrízí, for the information of Siyyid Muhammad, who was in the habit of frequenting that believer's shop. It was arranged to demand from Siyyid Muhammad, ere the delivery of that Tablet, a sealed note pledging Mírzá Yahyá, in the event of failing to appear at the trysting-place, to affirm in writing that his claims were false. Siyyid Muhammad promised that he would produce the next day the document required, and though Nabíl, for three successive days, waited in that shop for the reply, neither did the Siyyid appear, nor was such a note sent by him. That undelivered Tablet, Nabíl, recording twenty-three years later this historic episode in his chronicle, affirms was still in his possession, "as fresh as the day on which the Most Great Branch had penned it, and the seal of the Ancient Beauty had sealed and adorned it," a tangible and irrefutable testimony to Bahá'u'lláh's established ascendancy over a routed opponent.
Bahá'u'lláh's reaction to this most distressful episode in His ministry was, as already observed, characterized by acute anguish. "He who for months and years," He laments, "I reared with the hand of loving-kindness hath risen to take My life." "The cruelties inflicted by My oppressors," He wrote, in allusion to these perfidious enemies, "have bowed Me down, and turned My hair white. Shouldst thou present thyself before My throne, thou wouldst fail to recognize the Ancient Beauty, for the freshness of His countenance is altered, and its brightness hath faded, by reason of the oppression of the infidels." "By God!" He cries out, "No spot is left on My body that hath not been touched by the spears of thy machinations." And again: "Thou
hast perpetrated against thy Brother what no man hath perpetrated against another." "What hath proceeded from thy pen," He, furthermore, has affirmed, "hath caused the Countenances of Glory to be prostrated upon the dust, hath rent in twain the Veil of Grandeur in the Sublime Paradise, and lacerated the hearts of the favored ones established upon the loftiest seats." And yet, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, a forgiving Lord assures this same brother, this "source of perversion," "from whose own soul the winds of passion had risen and blown upon him," to "fear not because of thy deeds," bids him "return unto God, humble, submissive and lowly," and affirms that "He will put away from thee thy sins," and that "thy Lord is the Forgiving, the Mighty, the All-Merciful."
The "Most Great Idol" had at the bidding and through the power of Him Who is the Fountain-head of the Most Great Justice been cast out of the community of the Most Great Name, confounded, abhorred and broken. Cleansed from this pollution, delivered from this horrible possession, God's infant Faith could now forge ahead, and, despite the turmoil that had convulsed it, demonstrate its capacity to fight further battles, capture loftier heights, and win mightier victories.
A temporary breach had admittedly been made in the ranks of its supporters. Its glory had been eclipsed, and its annals stained forever. Its name, however, could not be obliterated, its spirit was far from broken, nor could this so-called schism tear its fabric asunder. The Covenant of the Báb, to which reference has already been made, with its immutable truths, incontrovertible prophecies, and repeated warnings, stood guard over that Faith, insuring its integrity, demonstrating its incorruptibility, and perpetuating its influence.
Though He Himself was bent with sorrow, and still suffered from the effects of the attempt on His life, and though He was well aware a further banishment was probably impending, yet, undaunted by the blow which His Cause had sustained, and the perils with which it was encompassed, Bahá'u'lláh arose with matchless power, even before the ordeal was overpast, to proclaim the Mission with which He had been entrusted to those who, in East and West, had the reins of supreme temporal authority in their grasp. The day-star of His Revelation was, through this very Proclamation, destined to shine in its meridian glory, and His Faith manifest the plenitude of its divine power.
A period of prodigious activity ensued which, in its repercussions, outshone the vernal years of Bahá'u'lláh's ministry. "Day and night,"
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