Nor were these, preeminent though they were, the sole fruits garnered through the indefatigable efforts exerted so heroically by the Center of that Covenant. The progress and extension of His Father's Faith in the East; the initiation of activities and enterprises which may be said to signalize the beginnings of a future Administrative Order; the erection of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the Bahá'í world in the city of Ishqábád in Russian Turkistán; the expansion of Bahá'í literature; the revelation of the Tablets of the Divine Plan; and the introduction of the Faith in the Australian continent--these may be regarded as the outstanding achievements that have embellished the brilliant record of `Abdu'l-Bahá's unique ministry.
In Persia, the cradle of the Faith, despite the persecutions which, throughout the years of that ministry, persisted with unabated violence, a noticeable change, marking the gradual emergence of a proscribed community from its hitherto underground existence, could be clearly discerned. Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, four years after Bahá'u'lláh's ascension, had, on the eve of his jubilee, designed to mark a turning-point in the history of his country, met his death at the hands of an assassin, named Mírzá Ridá, a follower of the notorious Siyyid Jamálu'd-Dín-i-Afghání, an enemy of the Faith and one of the originators of the constitutional movement which, as it gathered momentum, during the reign of the Sháh's son and successor, Muzaffari'd-Dín, was destined to involve in further difficulties an already hounded and persecuted community. Even the Sháh's assassination had at first been laid at the door of that community, as evidenced by the cruel death suffered, immediately after the murder of the sovereign, by the renowned teacher and poet, Mírzá `Alí-Muhammad, surnamed "Varqá" (Dove) by Bahá'u'lláh, who, together with his twelve-year-old son, Rúhu'lláh, was inhumanly put to death in the prison of Tihrán, by the brutal Hajíbu'd-Dawlih, who, after thrusting his dagger into the belly of the father and cutting him into pieces, before the eyes of his son, adjured the boy to recant, and, meeting with a blunt refusal, strangled him with a rope.
Three years previously a youth, named Muhammad-Ridáy-i-Yazdí, was shot in Yazd, on the night of his wedding while proceeding from the public bath to his home, the first to suffer martyrdom during `Abdu'l-Bahá's ministry. In Turbát-i-Haydaríyyih, in consequence of the Sháh's assassination, five persons, known as the Shuhadáy-i-Khamsíh (Five Martyrs), were put to death. In Mashhad a well-known merchant, Hájí Muhammad-i-Tabrízí, was murdered and his corpse set on fire. An interview was granted by the new
sovereign and his Grand Vizir, the unprincipled and reactionary Mírzá `Alí-Asghar Khán, the Atábik-i-A'zam, to two representative followers of the Faith in Paris (1902), but it produced no real results whatever. On the contrary, a fresh storm of persecutions broke out a few years later, persecutions which, as the constitutional movement developed in that country, grew ever fiercer as reactionaries brought groundless accusations against the Bahá'ís, and publicly denounced them as supporters and inspirers of the nationalist cause.
A certain Muhammad-Javád was stripped naked in Isfahán, and was severely beaten with a whip of braided wires, while in Káshán the adherents of the Faith of Jewish extraction were fined, beaten and chained at the instigation of both the Muhammadan clergy and the Jewish doctors. It was, however, in Yazd and its environs that the most bloody outrages committed during `Abdu'l-Bahá's ministry occurred. In that city Hájí Mírzáy-i-Halabí-Sáz was so mercilessly flogged that his wife flung herself upon his body, and was in her turn severely beaten, after which his skull was lacerated by the cleaver of a butcher. His eleven-year-old son was pitilessly thrashed, stabbed with penknives and tortured to death. Within the space of half a day nine people met their death. A crowd of about six thousand people, of both sexes, vented their fury upon the helpless victims, a few going so far as to drink their blood. In some instances, as was the case with a man named Mírzá Asadu'lláh-i-Sabbágh, they plundered their property and fought over its possession. They evinced such cruelty that some of the government officials were moved to tears at the sight of the harrowing scenes in which the women of that city played a conspicuously shameful part.
In Taft several people were put to death, some of whom were shot and their bodies dragged through the streets. A newly converted eighteen-year-old youth, named Husayn, was denounced by his own father, and torn to pieces before the eyes of his mother, whilst Muhammad-Kamál was hacked into bits with knife, spade and pickaxe. In Manshad, where the persecutions lasted nineteen days, similar atrocities were perpetrated. An eighty-year-old man, named Siyyid Mírzá, was instantly killed in his sleep by two huge stones which were thrown on him; a Mírzá Sádiq, who asked for water, had a knife plunged into his breast, his executioner afterwards licking the blood from the blade, while Shátir-Hasan, one of the victims, was seen before his death distributing some candy in his possession among the executioners and dividing among them his clothing. A sixty-five year old woman, Khadíjih-Sultán, was hurled
from the roof of a house; a believer named Mírzá Muhammad was tied to a tree, made a target for hundreds of bullets and his body set on fire, whilst another, named Ustád Ridáy-i-Saffár, was seen to kiss the hand of his murderer, after which he was shot and his corpse heaped with insults.
In Banáduk, in Dih-Bálá, in Farásháh, in Abbás-Ábád, in Hanzá, in Ardikán, in Dawlat-Ábád and in Hamadán crimes of similar nature were committed, an outstanding case being that of a highly respected and courageous woman, named Fátimih-Bagum, who was ignominiously dragged from her house, her veil was torn from her head, her throat cut across, her belly ripped open; and having been beaten by the savage crowd with every weapon they could lay hands on, she was finally suspended from a tree and delivered to the flames.
In Sarí, in the days when the agitation for the constitution was moving towards a climax, five believers of recognized standing, known later as the Shuhadáy-i-Khamsíh (Five Martyrs), were done to death, whilst in Nayríz a ferocious assault, recalling that of Yazd, was launched by the enemy, in which nineteen lost their lives, among them the sixty-five year old Mullá `Abdu'l-Hamíd, a blind man who was shot and his body foully abused, and in the course of which a considerable amount of property was plundered, and numerous women and children had to flee for their lives, or seek refuge in mosques, or live in the ruins of their houses, or remain shelterless by the wayside.
In Sirján, in Dúgh-Ábád, in Tabríz, in Ávih, in Qum, in Najaf-Ábád, in Sangsar, in Sháhmírzád, in Isfahán, and in Jahrum redoubtable and remorseless enemies, both religious and political, continued, under various pretexts, and even after the signing of the Constitution by the Sháh in 1906, and during the reign of his successors, Muhammad-`Alí Sháh and Ahmad Sháh, to slay, torture, plunder and abuse the members of a community who resolutely refused to either recant or deviate a hair's breadth from the path laid down for them by their Leaders. Even during `Abdu'l-Bahá's journeys to the West, and after His return to the Holy Land, and indeed till the end of His life, He continued to receive distressing news of the martyrdom of His followers, and of the outrages perpetrated against them by an insatiable enemy. In Dawlat-Ábád, a prince of the royal blood, Habíbu'lláh Mírzá by name, a convert to the Faith who had consecrated his life to its service, was slain with a hatchet and his corpse set on fire. In Mashhad the learned and pious Shaykh
`Alí-Akbar-i-Quchání was shot to death. In Sultán-Ábád, Mírzá `Alí-Akbar and seven members of his family including a forty day old infant were barbarously massacred. Persecutions of varying degrees of severity broke out in Ná'in, in Sháhmírzád, in Bandar-i-Jaz and in Qamsar. In Kirmansháh, the martyr Mírzá Ya'qúb-i-Muttáhidih, the ardent twenty-five year old Jewish convert to the Faith, was the last to lay down his life during `Abdu'l-Bahá's ministry; and his mother, according to his own instructions, celebrated his martyrdom in Hamadán with exemplary fortitude. In every instance the conduct of the believers testified to the indomitable spirit and unyielding tenacity that continued to distinguish the lives and services of the Persian followers of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.
Despite these intermittent severe persecutions the Faith that had evoked in its heroes so rare a spirit of self-sacrifice was steadily and silently growing. Engulfed for a time and almost extinguished in the sombre days following the martyrdom of the Báb, driven underground throughout the period of Bahá'u'lláh's ministry, it began, after His ascension, under the unerring guidance, and as a result of the unfailing solicitude, of a wise, a vigilant and loving Master, to gather its forces, and gradually to erect the embryonic institutions which were to pave the way for the establishment, at a later period, of its Administrative Order. It was during this period that the number of its adherents rapidly multiplied, that its range, now embracing every province of that kingdom, steadily widened, and the rudimentary forms of its future Assemblies were inaugurated. It was during this period, at a time when state schools and colleges were practically non-existent in that country, and when the education given in existing religious institutions was lamentably defective, that its earliest schools were established, beginning with the Tarbíyat, schools in Tihrán for both boys and girls, and followed by the Ta'yíd and Mawhibat schools in Hamadán, the Vahdat-i-Bashar school in Káshán and other similar educational institutions in Barfurúsh and Qazvín. It was during these years that concrete and effectual assistance, both spiritual and material, in the form of visiting teachers from both Europe and America, of nurses, instructors, and physicians, was first extended to the Bahá'í community in that land, these workers constituting the vanguard of that host of helpers which `Abdu'l-Bahá promised would arise in time to further the interests of the Faith as well as those of the country in which it was born. It was in the course of these years that the term Bábí, as an appellation, designating the followers of Bahá'u'lláh in that country, was universally
discarded by the masses in favor of the word Bahá'í, the former henceforth being exclusively applied to the fast dwindling number of the followers of Mírzá Yahyá. During this period, moreover, the first systematic attempts were made to organize and stimulate the teaching work undertaken by the Persian believers, attempts which, apart from reinforcing the foundations of the community, were instrumental in attracting to its cause several outstanding figures in the public life of that country, not excluding certain prominent members of the Shí'ah sacerdotal order, and even descendants of some of the worst persecutors of the Faith. It was during the years of that ministry that the House of the Báb in Shíráz, ordained by Bahá'u'lláh as a center of pilgrimage for His followers, and now so recognized, was by order of `Abdu'l-Bahá and through His assistance, restored, and that it became increasingly a focus of Bahá'í life and activity for those who were deprived by circumstances of visiting either the Most Great House in Baghdád or the Most Holy Tomb in Akká.
More conspicuous than any of these undertakings, however, was the erection of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the Bahá'í world in the city of Ishqábád, a center founded in the days of Bahá'u'lláh, where the initial steps preparatory to its construction, had been already undertaken during His lifetime. Initiated at about the close of the first decade of `Abdu'l-Bahá's ministry (1902); fostered by Him at every stage in its development; personally supervised by the venerable Hájí Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí, the Vakílu'd-Dawlih, a cousin of the Báb, who dedicated his entire resources to its establishment, and whose dust now reposes at the foot of Mt. Carmel under the shadow of the Tomb of his beloved Kinsman; carried out according to the directions laid down by the Center of the Covenant Himself; a lasting witness to the fervor and the self-sacrifice of the Oriental believers who were resolved to execute the bidding of Bahá'u'lláh as revealed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, this enterprise must rank not only as the first major undertaking launched through the concerted efforts of His followers in the Heroic Age of His Faith, but as one of the most brilliant and enduring achievements in the history of the first Bahá'í century.
The edifice itself, the foundation stone of which was laid in the presence of General Krupatkin, the governor-general of Turkistán, who had been delegated by the Czar to represent him at the ceremony, has thus been minutely described by a Bahá'í visitor from the West: "The Mashriqu'l-Adhkár stands in the heart of the city; its high dome standing out above the trees and house tops being visible for
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