alike, to ministers and ambassadors, to the ecclesiastical heads of Sunní Islám, to the wise men and inhabitants of Constantinople-- the seat of both the Sultanate and the Caliphate--to the philosophers of the world and the people of Persia, is not to be regarded as the only outstanding event associated with Bahá'u'lláh's sojourn in Adrianople. Other developments and happenings of great, though lesser, significance must be noted in these pages, if we would justly esteem the importance of this agitated and most momentous phase of Bahá'u'lláh's ministry.
It was at this period, and as a direct consequence of the rebellion and appalling downfall of Mírzá Yahyá, that certain disciples of Bahá'u'lláh (who may well rank among the "treasures" promised Him by God when bowed down with chains in the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán), including among them one of the Letters of the Living, some survivors of the struggle of Tabarsí, and the erudite Mírzá Ahmad-i-Azghandí, arose to defend the newborn Faith, to refute, in numerous and detailed apologies, as their Master had done in the Kitáb-i-Badí', the arguments of His opponents, and to expose their odious deeds. It was at this period that the limits of the Faith were enlarged, when its banner was permanently planted in the Caucasus by the hand of Mullá Abú-Talíb and others whom Nabíl had converted, when its first Egyptian center was established at the time when Siyyid Husayn-i-Káshání and Hájí Báqir-i-Káshání took up their residence in that country, and when to the lands already warmed and illuminated by the early rays of God's Revelation--Iraq, Turkey and Persia--Syria was added. It was in this period that the greeting of "Alláh-u-Abhá" superseded the old salutation of "Alláh-u-Akbar," and was simultaneously adopted in Persia and Adrianople, the first to use it in the former country, at the suggestion of Nabíl, being Mullá Muhammad-i-Furúghí, one of the defenders of the Fort of Shaykh Tabarsí. It was in this period that the phrase "the people of the Bayán," now denoting the followers of Mírzá Yahyá, was discarded, and was supplanted by the term "the people of Bahá." It was during those days that Nabíl, recently honored with the title of Nabíl-i-A'zam, in a Tablet specifically addressed to him, in which he was bidden to "deliver the Message" of his Lord "to East and West," arose, despite intermittent persecutions, to tear asunder the "most grievous veil," to implant the love of an adored Master in the hearts of His countrymen, and to champion the Cause which his Beloved had, under such tragic conditions, proclaimed. It was during those same days that Bahá'u'lláh instructed this same Nabíl to recite
on His behalf the two newly revealed Tablets of the Pilgrimage, and to perform, in His stead, the rites prescribed in them, when visiting the Báb's House in Shíráz and the Most Great House in Baghdád--an act that marks the inception of one of the holiest observances, which, in a later period, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas was to formally establish. It was during this period that the "Prayers of Fasting" were revealed by Bahá'u'lláh, in anticipation of the Law which that same Book was soon to promulgate. It was, too, during the days of Bahá'u'lláh's banishment to Adrianople that a Tablet was addressed by Him to Mullá `Alí-Akbar-i-Sháhmírzádí and Jamál-i-Burújirdí, two of His well-known followers in Tihrán, instructing them to transfer, with the utmost secrecy, the remains of the Báb from the Imám-Zádih Ma'súm, where they were concealed, to some other place of safety--an act which was subsequently proved to have been providential, and which may be regarded as marking another stage in the long and laborious transfer of those remains to the heart of Mt. Carmel, and to the spot which He, in His instructions to `Abdu'l-Bahá, was later to designate. It was during that period that the Súriy-i-Ghusn (Súrah of the Branch) was revealed, in which `Abdu'l-Bahá's future station is foreshadowed, and in which He is eulogized as the "Branch of Holiness," the "Limb of the Law of God," the "Trust of God," "sent down in the form of a human temple"-- a Tablet which may well be regarded as the harbinger of the rank which was to be bestowed upon Him, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and which was to be later elucidated and confirmed in the Book of His Covenant. And finally, it was during that period that the first pilgrimages were made to the residence of One Who was now the visible Center of a newly-established Faith--pilgrimages which by reason of their number and nature, an alarmed government in Persia was first impelled to restrict, and later to prohibit, but which were the precursors of the converging streams of Pilgrims who, from East and West, at first under perilous and arduous circumstances, were to direct their steps towards the prison-fortress of Akká--pilgrimages which were to culminate in the historic arrival of a royal convert at the foot of Mt. Carmel, who, at the very threshold of a longed-for and much advertised pilgrimage, was so cruelly thwarted from achieving her purpose.
These notable developments, some synchronizing with, and others flowing from, the proclamation of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, and from the internal convulsion which the Cause had undergone, could not escape the attention of the external enemies of the Movement,
who were bent on exploiting to the utmost every crisis which the folly of its friends or the perfidy of renegades might at any time precipitate. The thick clouds had hardly been dissipated by the sudden outburst of the rays of a Sun, now shining from its meridian, when the darkness of another catastrophe--the last the Author of that Faith was destined to suffer--fell upon it, blackening its firmament and subjecting it to one of the severest trials it had as yet experienced.
Emboldened by the recent ordeals with which Bahá'u'lláh had been so cruelly afflicted, these enemies, who had been momentarily quiescent, began to demonstrate afresh, and in a number of ways, the latent animosity they nursed in their hearts. A persecution, varying in the degree of its severity, began once more to break out in various countries. In Ádhirbayján and Zanján, in Nishápúr and Tihrán, the adherents of the Faith were either imprisoned, vilified, penalized, tortured or put to death. Among the sufferers may be singled out the intrepid Najaf-`Alíy-i-Zanjání, a survivor of the struggle of Zanján, and immortalized in the "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," who, bequeathing the gold in his possession to his executioner, was heard to shout aloud "Yá Rabbíya'l-Abhá" before he was beheaded. In Egypt, a greedy and vicious consul-general extorted no less than a hundred thousand tumans from a wealthy Persian convert, named Hájí Abu'l-Qásim-i-Shírází; arrested Hájí Mírzá Haydar-`Alí and six of his fellow-believers, and instigated their condemnation to a nine year exile in Khártúm, confiscating all the writings in their possession, and then threw into prison Nabíl, whom Bahá'u'lláh had sent to appeal to the Khedive on their behalf. In Baghdád and Kazímayn indefatigable enemies, watching their opportunity, subjected Bahá'u'lláh's faithful supporters to harsh and ignominious treatment; savagely disemboweled `Abdu'r-Rasúl-i-Qumí, as he was carrying water in a skin, at the hour of dawn, from the river to the Most Great House, and banished, amidst scenes of public derision, about seventy companions to Mosul, including women and children.
No less active were Mírzá Husayn-Khán, the Mushíru'd-Dawlih, and his associates, who, determined to take full advantage of the troubles that had recently visited Bahá'u'lláh, arose to encompass His destruction. The authorities in the capital were incensed by the esteem shown Him by the governor Muhammad Pásháy-i-Qibrisí, a former Grand Vizir, and his successors Sulaymán Páshá, of the Qádiríyyih Order, and particularly Khurshíd Páshá, who, openly and on many occasions, frequented the house of Bahá'u'lláh, entertained
Him in the days of Ramadán, and evinced a fervent admiration for `Abdu'l-Bahá. They were well aware of the challenging tone Bahá'u'lláh had assumed in some of His newly revealed Tablets, and conscious of the instability prevailing in their own country. They were disturbed by the constant comings and goings of pilgrims in Adrianople, and by the exaggerated reports of Fu'ád Páshá, who had recently passed through on a tour of inspection. The petitions of Mírzá Yahyá which reached them through Siyyid Muhammad, his agent, had provoked them. Anonymous letters (written by this same Siyyid and by an accomplice, Áqá Ján, serving in the Turkish artillery) which perverted the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, and which accused Him of having conspired with Bulgarian leaders and certain ministers of European powers to achieve, with the help of some thousands of His followers, the conquest of Constantinople, had filled their breasts with alarm. And now, encouraged by the internal dissensions which had shaken the Faith, and irritated by the evident esteem in which Bahá'u'lláh was held by the consuls of foreign powers stationed in Adrianople, they determined to take drastic and immediate action which would extirpate that Faith, isolate its Author and reduce Him to powerlessness. The indiscretions committed by some of its over-zealous followers, who had arrived in Constantinople, no doubt, aggravated an already acute situation.
The fateful decision was eventually arrived at to banish Bahá'u'lláh to the penal colony of Akká, and Mírzá Yahyá to Famagusta in Cyprus. This decision was embodied in a strongly worded Farmán, issued by Sultán `Abdu'l-`Azíz. The companions of Bahá'u'lláh, who had arrived in the capital, together with a few who later joined them, as well as Áqá Ján, the notorious mischief-maker, were arrested, interrogated, deprived of their papers and flung into prison. The members of the community in Adrianople were, several times, summoned to the governorate to ascertain their number, while rumors were set afloat that they were to be dispersed and banished to different places or secretly put to death.
Suddenly, one morning, the house of Bahá'u'lláh was surrounded by soldiers, sentinels were posted at its gates, His followers were again summoned by the authorities, interrogated, and ordered to make ready for their departure. "The loved ones of God and His kindred," is Bahá'u'lláh's testimony in the Súriy-i-Ra'ís, "were left on the first night without food... The people surrounded the house, and Muslims and Christians wept over Us... We perceived that the weeping of the people of the Son (Christians) exceeded the weeping of others--
a sign for such as ponder." "A great tumult seized the people," writes Áqá Ridá, one of the stoutest supporters of Bahá'u'lláh, exiled with him all the way from Baghdád to Akká, "All were perplexed and full of regret... Some expressed their sympathy, others consoled us, and wept over us... Most of our possessions were auctioned at half their value." Some of the consuls of foreign powers called on Bahá'u'lláh, and expressed their readiness to intervene with their respective governments on His behalf--suggestions for which He expressed appreciation, but which He firmly declined. "The consuls of that city (Adrianople) gathered in the presence of this Youth at the hour of His departure," He Himself has written, "and expressed their desire to aid Him. They, verily, evinced towards Us manifest affection."
The Persian Ambassador promptly informed the Persian consuls in Iraq and Egypt that the Turkish government had withdrawn its protection from the Bábís, and that they were free to treat them as they pleased. Several pilgrims, among whom was Hájí Muhammad Ismá'íl-i-Kashaní, surnamed Anís in the Lawh-i-Ra'ís, had, in the meantime, arrived in Adrianople, and had to depart to Gallipoli, without even beholding the face of their Master. Two of the companions were forced to divorce their wives, as their relatives refused to allow them to go into exile. Khurshíd Páshá, who had already several times categorically denied the written accusations sent him by the authorities in Constantinople, and had interceded vigorously on behalf of Bahá'u'lláh, was so embarrassed by the action of his government that he decided to absent himself when informed of His immediate departure from the city, and instructed the Registrar to convey to Him the purport of the Sultán's edict. Hájí Ja'far-i-Tabrízí, one of the believers, finding that his name had been omitted from the list of the exiles who might accompany Bahá'u'lláh, cut his throat with a razor, but was prevented in time from ending his life-- an act which Bahá'u'lláh, in the Súriy-i-Ra'ís, characterizes as "unheard of in bygone centuries," and which "God hath set apart for this Revelation, as an evidence of the power of His might."
On the twenty-second of the month of Rabí'u'th-Thání 1285 A.H. (August 12, 1868) Bahá'u'lláh and His family, escorted by a Turkish captain, Hasan Effendi by name, and other soldiers appointed by the local government, set out on their four-day journey to Gallipoli, riding in carriages and stopping on their way at Uzün-Küprü and Káshánih, at which latter place the Súriy-i-Ra'ís was revealed. "The inhabitants of the quarter in which Bahá'u'lláh had
unframe page frame page