Bahá'u'lláh as the "she-serpent," who, in view of a large debt he had incurred in his transactions with them, schemed to nullify his obligations by denouncing them as Bábís, and thereby encompassing their death. Their richly-furnished houses were plundered, even to the trees and flowers in their gardens, all their remaining possessions were confiscated; Shaykh Muhammad-Báqir, denounced by Bahá'u'lláh as the "wolf," pronounced their death-sentence; the Zillu's-Sultan ratified the decision, after which they were put in chains, decapitated, dragged to the Maydán-i-Sháh, and there exposed to the indignities heaped upon them by a degraded and rapacious populace. "In such wise," `Abdu'l-Bahá has written, "was the blood of these two brothers shed that the Christian priest of Julfá cried out, lamented and wept on that day." For several years Bahá'u'lláh in His Tablets continued to make mention of them, to voice His grief over their passing and to extol their virtues.
Mullá `Alí Ján was conducted on foot from Mazindarán to Tihrán, the hardships of that journey being so severe that his neck was wounded and his body swollen from the waist to the feet. On the day of his martyrdom he asked for water, performed his ablutions, recited his prayers, bestowed a considerable gift of money on his executioner, and was still in the act of prayer when his throat was slit by a dagger, after which his corpse was spat upon, covered with mud, left exposed for three days, and finally hewn to pieces. In Námiq Mullá `Alí, converted to the Faith in the days of the Báb, was so severely attacked and his ribs so badly broken with a pick-axe that he died immediately. Mírzá Ashraf was slain in Isfahán, his corpse trampled under foot by Shaykh Muhammad Taqíy-i-Najafí, the "son of the wolf," and his pupils, savagely mutilated, and delivered to the mob to be burnt, after which his charred bones were buried beneath the ruins of a wall that was pulled down to cover them.
In Yazd, at the instigation of the mujtahid of that city, and by order of the callous Mahmúd Mírzá, the Jalúlu'l-Dawlih, the governor, a son of Zillu's-Sultan, seven were done to death in a single day in horrible circumstances. The first of these, a twenty-seven year old youth, `Alí-Asghar, was strangled, his body delivered into the hands of some Jews who, forcing the dead man's six companions to come with them, dragged the corpse through the streets, surrounded by a mob of people and soldiers beating drums and blowing trumpets, after which, arriving near the Telegraph Office, they beheaded the eighty-five year old Mullá Mihdí and dragged him in the same manner
to another quarter of the city, where, in view of a great throng of onlookers, frenzied by the throbbing strains of the music, they executed Áqá `Alí in like manner. Proceeding thence to the house of the local mujtahid, and carrying with them the four remaining companions, they cut the throat of Mullá Alíy-i-Sabzívarí, who had been addressing the crowd and glorying in his imminent martyrdom, hacked his body to pieces with a spade, while he was still alive, and pounded his skull to a pulp with stones. In another quarter, near the Mihríz gate, they slew Muhammad-Báqir, and afterwards, in the Maydán-i-Khán, as the music grew wilder and drowned the yells of the people, they beheaded the survivors who remained, two brothers in their early twenties, `Alí-Asghar and Muhammad-Hasan. The stomach of the latter was ripped open and his heart and liver plucked out, after which his head was impaled on a spear, carried aloft, to the accompaniment of music, through the streets of the city, and suspended on a mulberry tree, and stoned by a great concourse of people. His body was cast before the door of his mother's house, into which women deliberately entered to dance and make merry. Even pieces of their flesh were carried away to be used as a medicament. Finally, the head of Muhammad-Hasan was attached to the lower part of his body and, together with those of the other martyrs, was borne to the outskirts of the city and so viciously pelted with stones that the skulls were broken, whereupon they compelled the Jews to carry the remains and throw them into a pit in the plain of Salsabíl. A holiday was declared by the governor for the people, all the shops were closed by his order, the city was illuminated at night, and festivities proclaimed the consummation of one of the most barbarous acts perpetrated in modern times.
Nor were the Jews and the Parsis who had been newly converted to the Faith, and were living, the former in Hamadán, and the latter in Yazd, immune to the assaults of enemies whose fury was exasperated by the evidences of the penetration of the light of the Faith in quarters they had fondly imagined to be beyond its reach. Even in the city of Ishqábád the newly established Shí'ah community, envious of the rising prestige of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh who were living in their midst, instigated two ruffians to assault the seventy-year old Hájí Muhammad-Ridáy-i-Isfahání, whom, in broad day and in the midst of the bazaar, they stabbed in no less than thirty-two places, exposing his liver, lacerating his stomach and tearing open his breast. A military court dispatched by the Czar to Ishqábád established, after prolonged investigation, the guilt of the
Shí'ahs, sentencing two to death and banishing six others--a sentence which neither Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, nor the `ulamás of Tihrán, of Mashhad and of Tabríz, who were appealed to, could mitigate, but which the representatives of the aggrieved community, through their magnanimous intercession which greatly surprised the Russian authorities, succeeded in having commuted to a lighter punishment.
Such are some typical examples of the treatment meted out by the adversaries of the Faith to the newly resurgent community of its followers during the period of Bahá'u'lláh's banishment to Akká--a treatment which it may be truly said testified alternately to "the callousness of the brute and the ingenuity of the fiend."
The "inquisition and appalling tortures," following the attempt on the life of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, had already, in the words of no less eminent an observer than Lord Curzon of Kedleston, imparted to the Faith "a vitality which no other impulse could have secured." This recrudescence of persecution, this fresh outpouring of the blood of martyrs, served to further enliven the roots which that holy Sapling had already struck in its native soil. Careless of the policy of fire and blood which aimed at their annihilation, undismayed by the tragic blows rained upon a Leader so far removed from their midst, uncorrupted by the foul and seditious acts perpetrated by the Arch-Breaker of the Báb's Covenant, the followers of Bahá'u'lláh were multiplying in number and silently gathering the necessary strength that was to enable them, at a later stage, to lift their heads in freedom, and rear the fabric of their institutions.
Soon after his visit to Persia in the autumn of 1889 Lord Curzon of Kedleston wrote, in the course of references designed to dispel the "great confusion" and "error" prevailing "among European and specially English writers" regarding the Faith, that "the Bahá'ís are now believed to comprise nineteen-twentieths of the Bábí persuasion." Count Gobineau, writing as far back as the year 1865, testified as follows: "L'opinion genérale est que les Bábís sont répandus dans toutes les classes de la population et parmi tous les religionnaires de la Perse, sauf les Nusayris et les Chrètiens; mais ce sont surtout les classes éclairées, les hommes pratiquant les sciences du pays, qui sont donnés comme très suspects. On pense, et avec raison, ce semble, que beaucoup de mullás, et parmi eux des mujtahids considèrables, des magistrats d'un rang élève, des hommes qui occupent a la cour des fonctions importantes et qui approchent de pres la personne du Roi, sont des Bábís. D'après un calcul fait rècemment, il y aurait a Tihrán cinq milles de ces religionnaires sur une population de quatre-vingt
milles âmes a peu pres." Furthermore: "...Le Bábisme a pris une action considèrable sur l'intelligence de la nation persane, et, se rependant même au délà des limites du territoire, il a débordé dans le pachalik de Baghdád, et passé aussi dans l'Inde." And again: "...Un mouvement religieux tout particulier dont l'Asie Centrale, c'est-à-dire la Perse, quelques points de l'Inde et une partie de la Turquie d'Asie, aux environs de Baghdád, est aujourd'hui vivement préoccupée, mouvement remarquable et digne d'être étudié a tous les titres. Il permet d'assister a des developments de faits, a des manifestations, a des catastrophes telles que l'on n'est pas habitué a les imaginer ailleurs que dans les temps réculés où se sont produites les grandes religions."
"These changes, however," Lord Curzon, alluding to the Declaration of the Mission of Bahá'u'lláh and the rebellion of Mírzá Yahyá, has, moreover written, "have in no wise impaired, but appear on the contrary, to have stimulated its propaganda, which has advanced with a rapidity inexplicable to those who can only see therein a crude form of political or even of metaphysical fermentation. The lowest estimate places the present number of Bábís in Persia at half a million. I am disposed to think, from conversations with persons well qualified to judge, that the total is nearer one million." "They are to be found," he adds, "in every walk of life, from the ministers and nobles of the Court to the scavenger or the groom, not the least arena of their activity being the Musulmán priesthood itself." "From the facts," is another testimony of his, "that Bábism in its earliest years found itself in conflict with the civil powers, and that an attempt was made by Bábís upon the life of the Sháh, it has been wrongly inferred that the movement was political in origin and Nihilist in character... At the present time the Bábís are equally loyal with any other subjects of the Crown. Nor does there appear to be any greater justice in the charges of socialism, communism and immorality that have so freely been levelled at the youthful persuasion ...The only communism known to and recommended by Him (the Báb) was that of the New Testament and the early Christian Church, viz., the sharing of goods in common by members of the Faith, and the exercise of alms-giving, and an ample charity. The charge of immorality seems to have arisen partly from the malignant inventions of opponents, partly from the much greater freedom claimed for women by the Báb, which in the oriental mind is scarcely dissociable from profligacy of conduct." And, finally, the following prognostication from his pen: "If Bábism continues to grow at its
present rate of progression, a time may conceivably come when it will oust Muhammadanism from the field in Persia. This, I think, it would be unlikely to do, did it appear upon the ground under the flag of a hostile faith. But since its recruits are won from the best soldiers of the garrison whom it is attacking, there is greater reason to believe that it may ultimately prevail."
Bahá'u'lláh's incarceration in the prison-fortress of Akká, the manifold tribulations He endured, the prolonged ordeal to which the community of His followers in Persia was being subjected, did not arrest, nor could they even impede, to the slightest degree, the mighty stream of Divine Revelation, which, without interruption, had been flowing from His pen, and on which the future orientation, the integrity, the expansion and the consolidation of His Faith directly depended. Indeed, in their scope and volume, His writings, during the years of His confinement in the Most Great Prison, surpassed the outpourings of His pen in either Adrianople or Baghdád. More remarkable than the radical transformation in the circumstances of His own life in Akká, more far-reaching in its spiritual consequences than the campaign of repression pursued so relentlessly by the enemies of His Faith in the land of His birth, this unprecedented extension in the range of His writings, during His exile in that Prison, must rank as one of the most vitalizing and fruitful stages in the evolution of His Faith.
The tempestuous winds that swept the Faith at the inception of His ministry and the wintry desolation that marked the beginnings of His prophetic career, soon after His banishment from Tihrán, were followed during the latter part of His sojourn in Baghdád, by what may be described as the vernal years of His Mission--years which witnessed the bursting into visible activity of the forces inherent in that Divine Seed that had lain dormant since the tragic removal of His Forerunner. With His arrival in Adrianople and the proclamation of His Mission the Orb of His Revelation climbed as it were to its zenith, and shone, as witnessed by the style and tone of His writings, in the plenitude of its summer glory. The period of His incarceration in Akká brought with it the ripening of a slowly maturing process, and was a period during which the choicest fruits of that mission were ultimately garnered.
The writings of Bahá'u'lláh during this period, as we survey the vast field which they embrace, seem to fall into three distinct categories. The first comprises those writings which constitute the sequel to the proclamation of His Mission in Adrianople. The second
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